Hoarders are being warned to be aware of the dangers posed by fire by the Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service.
The warning comes as part of the UK’s fifth annual Hoarding Awareness Week, which started on Monday 14th May 2018.
Estimates suggest that more than a million people may have hoarding issues in the UK. Hoarders are typically people who are unable to dispose of excess or unused belongings to the point where they are storing so many items that their living space becomes cramped.
Karen Lock, from Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service’s community safety team, said: ‘Hoarding can create significant risks to the individual, the community and the emergency services.
Hoarders often store large quantities of combustible items such as books, newspapers, magazines and wood. High levels of clutter in the home make it much easier for a fire to start, and increase the risk of it spreading quickly, cutting off your escape routes
We are also asking people whose homes are untidy or cluttered, or who have a ‘junk room’ or a blocked back door, to make sure they are not putting their safety, and the safety of the people around them, at risk.‘
The following fire safety tips have been issued for people with hoarding issues:
- Newspapers and mail stored in bulk will cause a fire to spread rapidly. Sort them on the day you receive them and recycle regularly.
- Keep cooking areas clear and switch the cooker off when leaving the room.
- Do not place items on, or close to, heaters, lamps or other electrical equipment.
- Gas cylinders in your home are a serious hazard during a fire. If you have a medical need for them they should be kept upright and outdoors where possible.
- Do not leave lit cigarettes unattended. Use an ashtray placed on a flat, stable surface so that it can’t fall over easily.
- Test your smoke alarms monthly and replace them if necessary.
- Choose an escape route to keep clear and plan and practise how to escape from your home in the event of an emergency.
- Don’t have wires trailing across floors, and don’t overload electrical sockets and adapters.
If fire does break out 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.
A hoarding support group, run by Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service, Vale of Aylesbury Housing and Aylesbury Vale District Council, meets on a monthly basis at Unit 7, Aylesbury Fire Station. The group brings hoarders, their friends and families together within a safe, caring and supportive environment to share experiences and to offer advice and support.
The next meeting of the hoarding support group is on Thursday 17th May 2018 from 5.30pm to 7.30pm. At the meeting a firefighter will talk about the hazards of hoarding behaviours and how people can reduce the risk of fires in their homes. Further information about the group can be found on the Vale of Aylesbury Housing website or by contacting Karen Lock at [email protected].
Additional information on hoarding in general is available on the Hoarding Disorders UK website.