Compulsive hoarding is a debilitating psychological condition that is only just beginning to be recognised.

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.

Clutter can make it very difficult to escape

High levels of clutter make it much easier for a fire to start and create a greater risk of fire spreading, increasing the risk of injury and death.

It can also makes it very difficult to escape and can lead to difficulties for firefighters tackling the blaze

We’re asking for people with hoarding tendencies; their friends and family to get in contact and arrange a home fire safety check.

The visit will give fire service staff a chance to work with a person who might have a dangerous amount of clutter in their home and make sure they know what to do if there is a fire and how to escape.

Fire Safety Tips

If you do store large amounts of possessions in and around your home, you can help keep yourself safe from fire by following the advice below. These small, simple steps can easily be included in your regular weekly/daily clearance sessions.

  • Whether you use a traditional oven and hob, or other methods of cooking like a portable stove, make it a priority to keep the cooking area clear.
  • Do not place items on, or close to heaters, lamps, or other electrical equipment.
  • Do not store gas cylinders in your home as they are a serious hazard during a fire. If you have a medical need for gas cylinders, you require oxygen for example, they should be kept upright and outdoors where possible. Do not store cylinders in basements, under stairs or in cupboards with electric meters/equipment.
  • If you smoke, use a proper ashtray that won't burn and put it on a flat, stable surface so that it can't fall over easily. Do not leave lit cigarettes unattended.
  • Put candles or tea lights in heat resistant holders that hold the candle or tea light firmly. Ensure the holder is placed on a flat, stable, heat resistant surface. Keep candles and tea lights away from anything that can catch fire, and never leave them unattended.
  • Make sure you have a working smoke alarm and test it as part of your regular clearance sessions.
  • Plan and practise how to escape from your home if there were a fire. Choose an escape route and keep it clear of possessions - in the event of a fire this will help you to escape quickly or allow firefighters to reach you if you are unable to escape.
  • Ensure possessions are stored on stable surfaces and do not stack items to a height that they become unstable - they could fall over blocking your escape.
  • Newspapers and mail stored in bulk are highly combustible and will cause a fire to spread rapidly. Sort mail and newspapers on the day you receive them and recycle them on a regular basis.

In the event of a fire, do not attempt to put it out yourself - leave your home straight away and call the fire and rescue service once you are safely outside. Do not stop on your way out to collect possessions and do not go back inside once you have escaped.