Public Safety & Health Risks

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703-324-1300, TTY 711

Monday - Thursday:  8 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Friday:  9:15 a.m. - 4 p.m.

12055 Government Center Parkway
Suite 1016
Fairfax, VA 22035

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HoardingHoarding creates hazardous conditions that can increase the risk of fire; structural damage to the home; and disease or injury to the hoarder, other household members, neighbors and the community. Extensive storage of items in the home severely limits the hoarder's day-to-day functioning.

Increased Risk of Fire

The accumulation of combustible materials, such as newspapers, clothing and rubbish, can pose a severe fire hazard.

  • The amount of combustible materials, when ignited, creates an extremely hot, fast-spreading fire that is difficult to suppress.

  • Escaping the home in a fire can be impossible due to blocked hallways, doorways and windows.

  • Public safety personnels' access to the home can be hampered or blocked.

Homes with severe hoarding suffer more extensive damage during a fire emergency because of the amount of combustible material inside and a delay in firefighting due to obstructed windows and doorways.

Increased Risk of Structural Damage

Structural damage The volume of hoarded items, often stacked from floor to ceiling, is extremely heavy and imposes structural loads up to 500 percent above the minimum design load. Structural damage threatens the occupants, public safety personnel and adjacent buildings or townhouses.

Overloaded floors or attics can cause permant structural damage such as

  • Sagging floors and ceilings,

  • Cracked floor joists or roof trusses,

  • Compromised bearing walls and

  • In extreme cases, partial collapse of the structure.

Increased Risk of Disease, Injury and Infestation

Disease and Injury riskThe storage of hoarded items makes cleaning nearly impossible, which can lead to unsanitary living conditions and increases the risk of disease.

  • The lack of regular home maintenance can result in the loss of running water, heat or refrigeration.

  • Toilets and sinks may be unusable or inaccessible.

  • Stacked items are a falling or tripping hazard which can cause injury to the occupants or public safety personnel.

  • Accumulated garbage can lead to rat and insect infestations.


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