We are here to help - and not to judge - so please get in touch if you or someone you know needs support.
What is hoarding disorder?
The NHS summarises the problem well: "A hoarding disorder is where someone acquires an excessive number of items and stores them in a chaotic manner. The items can be of little or no monetary value and usually result in unmanageable amounts of clutter."
How can you reduce fire risks if you or someone you know is a hoarder?
Because of the amount of possessions, exit routes can become blocked, making it harder to get out safely in an emergency or for our firefighters to get in. Fires can also spread much faster, especially where there are flammable items such as newspapers or cardboard.
Understand the risks
Hoarded materials can easily catch alight if they come into contact with heat sources such as overloaded extension leads, the kitchen hob or naked flames like candles or cigarettes. Because of the amount of possessions, fires will also spread much faster.
Fire safety suggestions
If you or someone you care for lives in a home that has become hoarded, you can help by:
- Switch from candles or tea lights to a safer option, such as LED flameless candles.
- Ensuring there is appropriate heating so that portable heaters, candles or gas hobs are not used to heat the home. If using portable heaters, ensuring that items aren't placed on top of, or too close to them.
- Suggest – or if you can, make sure – that you/they smoke outside if you/they are a smoker, never smoking in bed or where you/they could fall asleep, and that proper ashtrays are used and emptied regularly.
- Contacting the Local Authority to discuss options for support to clear some of the belongings.
More than just clutter?
Getting extra help
If hoarding or clutter has become a problem, you can get help and advice from:
- Adult Social Care (East Sussex) – 0345 608 0191
- Access Point (Brighton & Hove) – 01273 295 5555
Cloud’s End CIC - www.cloudsend.org.uk
Resources to help hoarders and housing associations dealing with hoarding.
Help for Hoarders - www.helpforhoarders.co.uk
Information support and advice for hoarders and their families. Including and an online support forum.
OCD UK - www.ocduk.org/hoarding
Information and support about Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, which includes hoarding.
Hoarding UK - www.hoardinguk.org
Information and support for hoarders and agencies, including local support groups.