In many hoarder houses, safety is a major area of concern. Here are some tips to help a hoarder to help clean a hoarder’s house.
In most homes, stoves are one of the most used appliances to prepare meals. In houses affected by hoarding, though, stoves can pose a major risk to the resident and neighbors. When clutter is too close to the eye of a stove (especially the pilot light in a gas stove), the risk of starting a fire skyrockets. Debris can easily fall onto the stove, causing an item to catch on fire. When an item catches on fire in a hoarding environment, the results can be catastrophic, as the clutter can act as an accelerant, giving your loved one less time to put out the fire or get out safely. When trying to clean a hoarder’s house, make sure the stove is an area to clear.
Tripping hazards are a major concern in hoarder houses. The accumulation of debris on floors throughout the house raise the risk of the resident tripping and possibly falling. However, when clutter and debris is left on the stairs, that risk is multiplied, especially when the resident is using a cane, walker, or other walking aid. When clutter is accumulated on the stairs, the use of the handrail is limited, and items on the stairs are difficult to see, which makes safely using the stairs less effective. When forming a harm reduction plan, be sure to include keeping the stairs clear to help your loved one remain safe.
In many areas of the house, clutter can be inconvenient, even a nuisance. However, when excessive clutter is present near entry and exit doors, the resident’s risk of exiting a house quickly is greatly increased. All entry and exit doors should be kept clear of clutter to enable the resident to exit quickly and safely, but also to allow EMT workers and firefighters easy access to the home. You can try to convince the resident to move the clutter by the door to another area of the house, if you can’t convince them to remove it completely.
Space heaters have a reputation for being prone to ignite fires, but when placed in a hoarding environment, where clutter and debris are excessive, there is a much greater risk of fire. If any paperwork, plastic, or other flammable items come in contact with the heat source, a fire will occur and the resident may not have time to exit the home. When working with a hoarder, make sure to stress the importance of keeping the areas directly around a space heater clear of debris.
In many homes, extension cords are used to allow appliances and other electronics to be used safely in areas away from the wall outlets. In hoarding environments, many of the outlets will be inaccessible due to clutter, so the resident may use extension cords that originate in other rooms. When these cords are repeated pinched in doors and/or windows, the wires may eventually touch, which could start a fire. Make sure when you are conducting an inspection of a hoarder’s house that you look for extension cords that are not being used properly. You may recommend clearing out a small area in front of an outlet blocked by clutter to help the resident use electronics in a safe manner.
Although there are many other areas for safety concern when you clean a hoarder’s house, the above list represents many of the major risks. When performing a hoarding cleanup, these areas should be addressed to keep him/her safe. Learning to identify major safety concerns in cluttered environments can help reduce risk the resident, as well as neighbors, EMT workers, police officers, fire fighters, etc.
For a list of advanced biohazard remediation companies that can help clean a hoarder’s house, visit ABRA at https://www.americanbiorecovery.org/. To find advanced biohazard remediation companies that can clean a hoarder’s house in Columbia, South Carolina, visit Palmetto Commercial Services at https://www.palmettocommercialservices.com.
Mike Young owns Palmetto Commercial Services in Columbia, South Carolina. PCS has cleaned over 725 hoarded homes and actively works to ensure compliance with Department of Social Services inspections. PCS offers harm-reduction approaches for hoarded environments, as well as a full like of removal, cleaning and decontamination services. PCS has won multiple cleaning awards, including Best of the State Cleaning Service 2017 – 2021, Post and Courier/Free Times Best Cleaning Company 2019 – 2021, Lexington Life Best Restoration Service 2021 & 2022, Columbia Metropolitan Magazine Best commercial cleaning Service 2019 – 2022, Better Business Bureau Torch Award for Business Ethics 2017, Top Rated Local Best Janitorial Service in the state 2019 – 2021, and SC Best in Business Best Janitorial Service in South Carolina, Best Floor Cleaning Service in South Carolina and runner up for Company of the Year 2021. Mike currently helps other cleaning companies by writing cleaning service SEO blogs to help them rank online.