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Hoarding Help Message Boards : Hoarding Safety : Fire Dangers in Hoarding Homes
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Fire Dangers in Hoarding Homes

Sue H
Posted: 06 October 2017 - 08:04 AM
Hi. The American Red Cross is currently operating a Home Fire Safety Campaign across the USA. It includes visits to homes by trained volunteers to educate about home fire safety. During the visit the volunteers can assess your need for Smoke Detectors and install as many as are needed for your safety FREE OF CHARGE. These are top quality state-of-the-art smoke alarms. The ARC will install them for homeowners and renters alike. Just call your local chapter of the American Red Cross and ask.
Posted: 31 December 2015 - 11:18 PM
Thank You! Sue :D
Posted: 08 March 2015 - 10:59 AM
ehow video

Dave, hope this answers your question. :)
dave - Cory Fire EXt ?
Posted: 08 March 2015 - 10:22 AM
cluttered home, electric range and carpeted kitchen floor. (Floor is clear of obstacles in the sink, stove, refrig triangle.)

Range is 4 burner. right side a large and small burner. counter to right of range has toaster and coffee maker.

What sort of fire extinguisher should one have around to deal with a skillet based olive or canola oil fire on a right side burner in the event it "jumps"?
Posted: 25 July 2014 - 11:18 AM
Here is an URL to an article from nfpa about fire dangers in hoarding households. Many dangerous things are not so obvious as the following excerpts show.
."a compulsive hoarder's home is often chaotic, Concha said, with heaps of material in no discernable order. In extreme cases, doors and windows are blocked, impeding entrance or exit in an emergency."

"The greatest risk, however, may be the fuel load itself .due to increased use of plastics and synthetics in clothing, furniture, and other household items ? including those gathered as part of a hoarding trove ? the flashover point may occur in as little as three minutes, he said. When faced with a hoarding situation where access to a home is difficult because there's so much stuff inside, an incident commander must weigh the added risk when considering whether to send firefighters in. That added caution could mean anyone trapped inside stands a lesser chance of rescue or survival."
Posted: 24 January 2014 - 08:54 AM
I wanted to further comment about training my daughter to lower her pups first. Even full grown they are only about 7 pounds each (2 Chi's). I trained her to keep them in a small crate at night and lower the crate first because I calculated that in the event of fire she would lose more of her own survival time stressing over their suffering in the smoke and flames, than a well trained response to lower them first. Strapping the rope and lowering them during our drills took less than 20 seconds since their crate and the rope is kept right beneath the fire escape window. In a real fire, Her crying, delaying, wanting to say goodbye to her beloved pups could cost her life. Also, my guess (and knowing her personality) is that her focus to save them and follow the drill could keep her from being distracted into trying to find me or talk to me through the door (which would put her in more danger). I can't speak to this with Cory's expertise... just that of a mom.
Posted: 29 February 2012 - 05:46 PM
Corey,Thank you very much for your expert input. I never had heard about changing the battery in the smoke detector on daylight savings day.
To the woman who was critical of your lack of detail-first,his comments were the only in that category at that time,and although we all love our pets-teaching a child to be the one to lower growing animals out the window before leaving the house herself might not be the greatest of ideas.
Sorry if you take this the wrong way but critisizing a man who simply took a little time to express a few thoughts that were meant to be helpful
probably wasn't the nicest thing to do. thank you both however for informing me of many things i never would have considered,as i do have a family member with hoarding issues.
Posted: 09 August 2011 - 12:54 PM
Excuse me, i'm hoping some one can help me.
there is an older woman who is squatting /living in a garage packed to the gills with stuff, the garage is on my rental property, i believe sh is mentally ill and is a danger to herself and others- what do i , can i do??????

please advise....
Posted: 14 April 2011 - 07:53 AM
**PLEASE NOTE*** Any safety products listed here are for reference only. Neither the contributor(s) nor the owner of this site (nor the affiliates, assigns, etc.) are endorsing any particular safety products. Those listed here are provided only as a possible product that MAY fit your situation. Whenever purchasing/employing any safety device, DO YOUR HOMEWORK and follow the manufacturer's instructions thoroughly.
Cory Chalmers
Posted: 13 April 2011 - 03:49 PM
Very good points you have made. EVERY multi story home with windows that do not have a roof under them should have a fire escape ladder. Being a firefighter I have seen people jump and while they do not die, they do suffer from broken legs and other bones and it is just not necessary. Fire escape ladders are inexpensive and can save lives or at least limbs :)

I can't tell you how many homes I go into and find either no smoke detectors or non working detectors. Again, this is an inexpensive piece of equipment that is easily installed. And if it is just a dead battery??? Come on, we all know that at day light savings time we are supposed to replace the batteries in them. Save your life as well as your loved ones and inspect your detectors regularly.

Finally, have a plan in case of a fire. Like Darci, actually have a fire drill annually so everyone knows what to do. In the "heat" of the moment with all the stress you WILL panic, it is human nature. Anything we practice regularly becomes second nature to us and we will still do our part even when stressed. Stay fire safe even in a hoarded home...that is while you are working to de-clutter it!
Posted: 13 April 2011 - 12:18 PM
Cory... Wow! Thanks for taking the time to prevent that much detail.

On a personal note, I have a 13 year old. About a month ago, a 13 year old passed away from smoke inhalation in a fire. While not official information, someone who knew the family told me that the little girl was afraid to jump and tried to go back into the home when she was consumed with toxic gases.

But there IS something each of us with multiple story homes can do. We bought ourselves a Werner fire ladder from Home Depot that can be recessed in your wall beneath a window is less than an hour.

We stress tested it and did a fire drill and learned that our daughter could not exit the window with her puppies in her backpack as we had planned. Because of this fire drill, the pups now sleep in a crate and we keep rope next to the crate to lower the rope.

We reviewed "the plan" over and over. Don't look for mom and dad. Don't open the door. Open the window, deploy the ladder, lower the pups, then lower you. We are working to get the timing on this down to 60 seconds.

Another thing is GET MORE SMOKE & CARBON MONOIXIDE DETECTORS. Put one is each room. Our next purchase is to get a detector with WIFI that will actually text an alert to our local dispatcher... that way we don't have to worry about finding our phone in the dark.

I will look for other checklists and sources and will post them here. Please, please.... even before you are able to clean up any clutter, get these safety measures in place.
Cory Chalmers
Posted: 13 April 2011 - 08:41 AM
During my 16 years as a hoarding cleanup expert, I have literaly seen inside thousands of hoarding homes. With my 15 years as a fire department captain, I am amazed that more of these homes do not go up in flames. Here are the most common findings for fire danger that I see when assessing a hoarding home.
1) Water Heater - Remember, water heaters have a very hot, open flame under them and items cannot be stored right up against them. Obviously in a hoarding home, they run out of space so the clutter and trash get pushed right up against the water heater.
2) Eltrical - Many hoarded homes get so full that outlets are not visible or able to be found. Because of this, hoarders often will overload the one or two outlets that they can find and plug as many things into them as they can. Electrical extension cords are not made to handle this much power flowing through them and they will overheat causing a fire.
3) Gas Ranges and Cooktops - Gas ranges and built in cooktops have pilot lights. When a house becomes hoarded, countertops are usually one of the first surfaces to fill up. This clutter often spills over onto the cooking surfaces and right next to or on top of a pilot light. I can't tell you how many of these fires I have seen.
4) - Space Heaters - Many hoarding homes do not have heat so space heaters are utilized in winter months. Space Heaters, especially the older type (often picked up at garage sales), can get very hot to the touch and they put out tremendous radiant heat. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that this heat source next to combustibles will cause a fire.
The problem is the large piles of clutter will shift and often fall so even when a hoarder thinks the clutter is a safe distance from heat sources, it may not stay that way for long. The hoarder can be sleeping or away from the home when the fire starts. As a veteran of a pretty busy Orange County Fire Department, I can tell you when a hoarding house catches on fire, it is next to impossible for the hoarder to get out, and even more so for us to get in. Please take this information and go through your home, or your loved ones home and eliminate these dangers. Thanks for reading!
Cory Chalmers
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