Hoarding kindling

House FireNo, people aren’t hoarding small pieces of dry wood for starting a fire, but a person who is hoarding has definitely created a fire hazard. In this Omaha World Herald article, the dangers of hoarding and fire safety are examined. From the article:

When clutter becomes serious hoarding, though, dwellings become difficult to navigate. It raises mental health and public health issues and becomes a potential nightmare for firefighters.

“We do encounter hoarding on occasion,” Giles said, “and it may not be evident from the street,” where the fire crew assesses the location of the flames and rescue needs.

A fire blamed on faulty wiring killed three people in Fremont, Neb., last week. And clutter hampered firefighters from the moment they arrived, just minutes after receiving the alarm.

Hoarding has negative effects on a person’s emotional well-being, but it may also wind up having a very dire physical toll. Not only to the hoarder, but to firefighters trying to navigate through a maze of trash. The hoarded mess also adds fuel to the fire. Boxes stacked to the ceiling packed full of clothes aren’t exactly deterrents for a spreading inferno.

Succumbing to a fiery end in the middle of a hoarded mess of clutter, may be one of the worst ways to leave this world. If you know of anyone who has a hoarding problem, please try and get them professional psychological treatment. You may very well be saving their life.

10 Comments for “Hoarding kindling”

  1. posted by Canadian Coco on

    Good hoarding documentary
    http://www.vimeo.com/603058

  2. posted by Sonia on

    My hubby is a firefighter in our small town of 10,000. They had a fire in January of this kind. The man was able to lower himself out a 2nd story window by tying sheets together, but they had difficulty in every room he had so much stuff. Hubby actually wondered if the resident might suffer from one of those diseases where people can’t throw stuff away, one room had a tiny path thru it (not wide enough for a fireman in full gear) and all that was in the room was stacks of newspapers and old magazines dating back at least 30 years. Fire fuel if ever there was some!

  3. posted by supersocco on

    This post immediately reminded me of this old video: http://youtube.com/watch?v=-t_5wthG0Wc . A neglected messy house will burn first in an atomic explosion.

  4. posted by Sue on

    (That’s OK, super–we would’ve died under our little plastic desks earlier.)

    The danger of clutter would also attract insects, brown recluse spiders, rodents and mold.

  5. posted by Empress Juju on

    My grandmother was a hoarder. There was, in fact, a house fire before I was born, but that didn’t stop her from amassing FIVE HOUSES packed to the rafters with found “treasures.”

    When she died, we pulled the dumpsters right up to the windows and threw out every last bit of moldy, worthless stuff that had been damaged by neglect and, you guessed it, rodents and insects. Very little was salvageable.

    I loved her very much, but most of her life, and all of her money were lost to hoarding.

  6. posted by Hayden Tompkins on

    Imagine living in a home like that. I hated it; absolutely every second of it. I remember one time, when I was six, my father was yelling at me and my brother. He called us pigs because we hadn’t cleaned up our room yet (regular kid mess). Meanwhile the rest of the house was absolutely unlivable because of his hoarding.

    I still get steamed if I think about it.

  7. posted by Adrienne on

    My husband grew up in a home like Sonia described. His Mom saved EVERTHING. There was but a tiny path through the stuff in every room of the house. Scary!! His Dad??? A fireman. Go figure.

  8. posted by Jen on

    When I first saw my house, it was full of the previous owner’s stuff. I didn’t even realize there was a radiator in the bay window until I moved in. About four thousand books, all stacked everywhere, enough furniture to outfit three houses, dust (she was elderly, and did not clean) and filth. She had an auction, but still managed to fill up her new garage with boxes of stuff she kept. (She didn’t read the books; she just thought “they were nice to have.”)

    I found a bone from her dog who had died three years before on the carpet when she moved out. The carpet had been there since before 1978–probably for about 30 years. She’s still mad at me for taking out the carpet.

  9. posted by Susan on

    In MPH program, we actually covered hoarding and the elderly in one of my classes- it’s a HUGE problem, and if you live in a larger urban area, you can call Health and Human Services and ask for a referral to get your family member help. Bu tit’s really tough to help an older relative change their ways.
    My dad has helped my Mom change her hoarding ways since he had to help clean out a the home of a hoarding buddy who passed away. And I think it helped spur things along when he found out that if he passed away and left Mom to just keep hoarding on her own (it would get worse) that his kids could be charged with elder neglect if the neighbors or a social worker noticed and filed a report.

  10. posted by Thomas on

    Yeah….I’m a firefighter, who can relate to this. We run into the phenomenon with a good bit of regularity. A couple of weeks ago, a retired firefighter from my department died in his own house the same way. He was found laying in front of his door, which he had locked with 5 locks….keys neatly lined up on a table by the door….and the fire in several places where he had apparently started it, trying to carry whatever was burning outside. He had the typical paths through all his accumulated junk.

    I can also relate because I have some of the same tendencies myself. Fortunately, my wife does not, and assists me in regularly clearing out the “good stuff” I have accumulated and we have a couple garage sales a year. They don’t really make enough money to justify it…but, are a great excuse to have a yard party with friends and family, and usually covers the beer. I’ve gotten much better at not gathering stuff to begin with. But, this is only within the last five years or so, and I’m nearly fifty. Replacing the emotional satisfaction of finding something that seems cool or useful or whatever, with the emotional satisfaction of clearing out some space and getting rid of tuff, seems to be working for me. Another good tip I’ve found, is to instruct someone close to you…ie spouse…to simply get rid of anything that is in the way, unless you have specifically told them not to for some GOOD reason (ie it is actually a part for something you still own and use)…but this is key. DO NOT TELL ME! Don’t “ask” me if I still need this thing. Just hide it in the trash while I’m at work or something! If you don’t remind me, I’ll most likely never miss it. If you bring it to my attention, you set off that deeply seated emotional thingy that caused me to collect it in the first place.

    Okey Dokey. That was therapeutic!

    Thomas the borderline pack-ratite

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