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We have just “dealt” with the challenges and continued on our way. Many different theories exist on why we are seeing an increase in the number of compulsive hoarders, but without a doubt emergency responders are seeing an, almost, epidemic level of responses inside hoarding conditions.

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How does this disorder directly affect the first responders?

As the accumulation of belongings start the dangers to the occupants and first responders begin to pile up, just like the stacks of stuff.  The challenging environment that follows offers challenges with entry, exit, and an increase in available fuel for a fire.  Along with these challenges firs responders can be faced with multiple biological dangers caused from rodents, human, and animal waste.  Each one of these dangers is major challenges for first responders.

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Who discover these environments? People that are afflicted with compulsive hoarding disorder are very reclusive and often do not allow people to enter their homes.  Many of these folks feel “embarrassed” or “ashamed” as they are aware of how their disorder is seen by people.  If no one is allowed to enter their home it is common for the first responders to be the first people to discover the conditions. They will keep to themselves until they have a medical emergency, fire, or experience a need to call 911. This call brings the local responders to the environment, often unprepared for what they find.

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What are the Cues and Clues that hoarding is Present?

  • One of the most common questions asked: “Can you tell from the outside of a house that Hoarding conditions exist?”  The answer is, YES.  While it is not a 100% certainty there are some common clues that can lead you to assume that the home is filled with belongings.
  • View inside
  • Piles of belongings
  • Odor
  • Back yard
  • Inside the car