Hoarders can be at a higher risk of fire. The number of possessions can also lead to exit routes becoming blocked, making safe evacuation more difficult. Fires spread much faster, especially if doors cannot be closed and where there are flammable items such as newspapers or cardboard lying around.

This page will give you guidance on how to help someone who's hoarding and reduce their risk of fire.

What you can do

  • If you know a friend, family member, or someone you care for is hoarding, talk to them about our free home safety visit service. 
  • A friendly fire safety technician will visit them in their home to give advice and guidance without judgement or embarrassment. 
  • If someone wants to get rid of items, professional help is available. There is a register of professional declutterers who can work with people to support them to remove excess belongings.

Safety tips to prevent a fire in a hoarder’s home

If someone you know lives in a home that is full of belongings, help them to live more safely by:

  • helping them to plan and practise a fire escape plan. Stress the importance of clear routes and exits in case of a fire. Practise the plan often. Exit routes may change as new items are brought into the home.
  • installing working smoke alarms in the home. Test them every week (or at least once a month).
  • making sure flammable items (such as tea towels, dishcloths and clothes) are kept away from portable heaters, the stove or the oven
  • checking electrical wiring - it may be old or worn from the weight of their possessions. Pests can chew on wires. Damaged wires can start fires.
  • helping them to manage their paperwork - newspapers and mail are particularly flammable. Recycle newspapers and post as soon as it is finished with. In the event of a fire, they would cause it to spread rapidly.
  • encouraging safer smoking habits such as smoking outside, discarding cigarettes in a suitable ashtray, and regularly emptying ashtrays. Find out more about how to support a friend who is a smoker

Book a home safety visit and we’ll install free smoke alarms and specialist equipment and have a conversation with the person about keeping safe in their home.

More advice