Hoarding can be very dangerous to your health, mental state, and your home. Hoarding dangers can include: mold growth, bug infestations, structural damage, and tripping hazards. Hoarding has been known to also overwhelm the mind, cause stress, anxiety, and drain energy levels. If you are going to clean a hoarding situation there are a few things you should be aware of.
Hoarding can cause health issues. Mold can grow in areas unable to be seen. Mold spores are dangerous to those allergic, and to those who aren’t, still cause breathing problems. Bug infestations can be very dangerous to your health. Some bugs are dangerous just by their bite, such as the West Nile virus from mosquitos, and Lyme disease from ticks, other bugs can carry and spread bacteria such as E. coli and Salmonella. Cockroaches can contribute to childhood asthma and allergies, spread bacteria, and grow in population rapidly. Hoarding can also bring infestations of rodents such as mice and rats that can also bring bacteria, diseases, and viruses such as the Hantavirus which can be fatal. Unsanitary conditions can be particularly dangerous for immunocompromised individuals, as human or animal feces can spread airborne bacteria. Urine can raise ammonia levels to dangerous exposure levels and be harmful to those with cardiac or respiratory conditions. The much more common problems with hoarding are the tripping hazards which can cause broken bones and fracture hips especially in the elderly. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2013, 25,500 older adults died from unintentional falls.
Hazardous to Those That Help
Hoarding can also be harmful to those who are trying to help. Emergency workers have been injured trying to help the hoarder during lifesaving emergencies and there have been a few cases of firefighters dying after being trapped by the clutter.
Clutter can be a Deathtrap
Aside from the tripping hazards, clutter can be a deathtrap. Clutter piles can fall and block paths to get around the house or block airflow causing either low levels of oxygen or cool air on hot days. Clutter can fall on vents or block other airways, causing a lack of oxygen and raising carbon dioxide levels. This can be very dangerous as the hoarder might not notice difficulty in breathing until it is too late. Heavier clutter can also fall on the hoarder and potentially injure them or trap them under the pile of clutter.
The cleaning process can also be dangerous and proper planning should be considered. Mold spores may be released into the air and breathed in. Bugs can scatter if their habitats are disturbed, and can bite the one who disturbed them or those nearby. Bug bites can contain either venom or harmful bacteria, and also carries the danger of becoming infected. There is a risk that mold or water damage may have weakened the structure and as the area is cleaned could collapse. Cleaners can be hazardous if there isn’t enough airflow to carry the noxious fumes away. For this reason, it’s a good idea to have professionals help with the cleaning process. Professionals such as exterminators, pest control, and contractors (if you suspect mold or structural damage) should be consulted to assess any potential dangers before the cleaning project begins. Hoarding cleaning companies are trained with cleaning hoarding situations and have experience with all the dangers associated with hoarding. Hoarding cleaning companies can assess the situation and will know if a professional such as a contractor, pest control, or an exterminator is necessary in the cleanup process. The cleaning process can be dangerous and should be carefully planned out regarding the dangers listed above.