Hoarding is highly prevalent (approximately 2-5% of the population – potentially over 1.2 million people in the UK alone)
Like most human behaviours, saving and collecting possessions can range from being totally normal to excessive or pathological. Most children have collections at some point and approximately 30% of British adults define themselves as collectors.
Hoarding and Compulsive Hoarding are some of the more commonly used terms to refer to an excessive and problematic form of ‘collectionism’.
In May 2013 Hoarding Disorder was officially recognised. The NHS has published a page on Hoarding, click here for more details.
Your GP is your first point of contact. Take a trusted friend with you to help explain the situation, you could even take photographs or ask for a home visit.
Helping hoarders reduce the risk of fire – top tips
If you store large amounts of possessions in and around your home, you can help keep yourself safe from fire by following the advice below. Our ‘top tips’ are small, simple steps that can easily be included in your regular weekly/daily clearance sessions.
- Make sure you have a working smoke alarm and test it as part of your regular clearance sessions. You can contact your local fire service for advice.
- Make it a priority to keep the cooking area clear.
- Do not place items on or close to heaters, lamps or other electrical equipment.
- Do not store cylinders in your home as they are a serious hazard during a fire.
- Put ashtrays on flat, stable surfaces so that they can’t tip over easily. Don’t leave lit cigarettes unattended.
- Put candles/tea lights in heat resistant holders that hold the candle/tea light firmly and ensure it is placed on a flat, stable, heat resistant surface.
- Keep candles/tea lights away from anything that can catch fire, and never leave them unattended.
- Plan and practise how to escape from your home if there were a fire. Choose an escape route and keep it clear.
- Ensure possessions are stored on stable surfaces and do not stack items to a height that they become unstable.
- Newspapers and mail stored in bulk are highly combustible and will cause a fire to spread rapidly.
- In the event of a fire, do not attempt to put it out yourself – leave your home straight away and call the fire brigade 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.
- If you feel that you need some help or assistance with the above, there are many organisations that will support you through the process free of charge.
To help individuals find a qualified counsellor or psychotherapist in their local area, Counselling Directory provides a confidential service that encourages those in distress to seek help. The directory contains information on many different types of distress, as well as articles, news, and events. Click here to visit this website.
All the information on this page is available on www.helpforhoarders.co.uk