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 moulds 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 occupant(s)
- 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 Responders
- 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.