A number of fatal fires in Staffordshire have involved hoarders.
Compulsive hoarding is a debilitating psychological condition that was officially recognised in May 2013.
A very basic description of a compulsive hoarder is someone unable to dispose of excess or unused things to the point where their belongings are clogging their living space.
Making a cup of tea, or sleeping in their own bed becomes impossible because the spaces designed for living in have become storehouses.
Fire Safety Tips
If you are concerned about someone that hoards items please help them by offering the following home safety advice:
- Help them to plan and practice the escape from their home in the case of a fire. Encourage them to keep their escape route clear of possessions.
- Advise them that in the event of a fire, they must not attempt to put it out themselves. They need to get out, stay out and call 999.
- They must not stop on their way out to collect possessions.
- Whether they use a traditional oven/hob, or other methods of cooking like a portable stove, encourage them to make it a priority to keep the cooking area clear.
- They must not place items on, or close to heaters, lamps or other electrical equipment.
- They must not store cylinders in their home as they are a serious hazard during a fire. If they have a medical need for cylinders, they should be kept upright and outdoors where possible – cylinders must not be stored in basements, under stairs or in cupboards with electric meters/equipment.
- If they smoke, make sure they use a proper ashtray that won’t burn and that it is placed on a flat, stable surface so that it can’t tip over easily. They must not leave lit cigarettes unattended.
- Newspapers and mail stored in bulk are highly combustible and will cause a fire to spread rapidly. Encourage them to sort mail and newspapers on the day they receive them and recycle them on a regular basis.
- Check whether possessions are stored on stable surfaces and that items aren’t stacked to a height that they become unstable – they could fall over blocking their escape.
- Push the Button! – Make sure they have working smoke alarms and that they test them every week. We can fit them where required.
- If they use candles/tea lights ensure that they use heat resistant holders that hold them firmly and that they are placed on a flat, stable, heat resistant surface. They must keep candles/tea lights away from anything that can catch fire, and never leave them unattended.