What is hoarding?
Hoarding is a psychological disorder characterized by an inability to throw
things away or the obsession with continuously acquiring things. Some
people may become obsessed with one item, while others become obsessed with
having as many things as possible.
Why is hoarding a problem?
Compulsive hoarding may result in numerous problems, some of them life
threatening. Some of the issues may include:
- The sheer amount of accumulated items may impair mobility and interfere with
basic activities including cooking, cleaning, showering and sleeping and using
sanitary facilities in the home
- Lack of cleaning may result in dusts and molds accumulating in the home
- Animals and rodents may leave fecal and urine deposits within the materials
- Lack of pathways throughout the residence can present a trip hazard to the
- High piles may topple trapping the occupant beneath them
- The weight of accumulated items can cause structural damage to the building
- Materials piled against electrical outlets, heating equipment or cooking
equipment could cause a fire
- Lack of pathways and high piles present a hazard and an impediment to Emergency
The volume of accumulation may present an unsafe fire load. A fire
starting in such a property would quickly overwhelm attempts to extinguish it
and consume the building quickly. Not only does this present a risk to the
occupant, it also jeopardizes the safety of Emergency Responders and potentially
other occupants in a multi unit property.
How can we help?
The London Fire Department is an active partner in the London Community
Response to Hoarding Coalition. The Coalition brings together numerous agencies in the City of
London that work together to address the cause of hoarding as well as the risks
this disorder presents. If you have concerns about a friend or family
member, we can arrange for an Inspector to visit the premises and do an
assessment. Each case is dealt with on an individual basis and any actions
taken will depend on the risks involved.
For more information, please
Inspector James Hind