Hoarding almost cost a Melbourne woman her life last night, after her 3rd story apartment full of stuff caught on fire. When fire crews arrived, they struggled to get inside and find the woman, simply because there was so much clutter.
It's prompted a serious warning from authorities about the dangers of hoarding and what to do if you think it's becoming a problem.
So what is hoarding?
It's the persistent accumulation and lack of ability to relinquish large numbers of objects or animals. It is a progressive and chronic condition.
Why is it dangerous?
Hoarding creates a high fuel load that increases the risk to the occupants, firefighters and neighbouring properties. It provides increased opportunity for a fire to ignite. It also leads to blocked exits and narrow pathways making it hard to get out quickly.
Fire experts say the home of hoarders take a lot more resources to extinguish if they go up in flames, not to mention the bigger damage bill because there's a whole lot more property to be destroyed.
So what to do if you're a hoarder?
Lets start with making sure there are enough smoke alarms installed in your home, and make sure they're working. Clear away things which block your pathways and exits.
Finally, make sure the areas with the greatest risk are clear. That means cleaning your cooking areas and items away from heaters. Most house fires start in the kitchens or with items left next to a heater.