We’ve all read about hoarders and the catastrophe they leave behind. But who cleans up all that stuff? Due in part the lifestyle of a hoarder their homes present a significant health risk for anyone tasked with cleanup. American Hometown Services present some of the dangers of hoarder clean up.
Dangers, Mold, Pests & Other Negative Effects Caused By Hoarding
• Mold growth in hidden areas. Mold is major allergen and can lead to infections. Also mold grows in moisture laden areas and water and mold contribute to structural damage.
• Pest infestations and disease including bugs in carpets and boxes. Hording provides a lot of areas for the breeding of disease organisms, both virus and bacterial. With rodent infestation hantavirus and other rodent borne diseases become a possibility. Pet and pest feces dry and become airborne spreading infectious organisms. Urine can raise ammonia levels to unhealthy and dangerous levels harmful to those with cardiac or respiratory disease and those with compromised immune systems. The lowly roach carries diseases and contributes to childhood asthma and breed large populations rapidly, dust mites and others are or carry allergens. Ticks, are good for Lyme Disease and mosquitos are good for West Nile virus. Some insects carry bacterial diseases like Salmonella and E. coli.
• Structural damage and falling hazards due to the spreading of material stacks. Tripping hazards can cause damage to bones and hips, with the elderly being very susceptible to such injuries. Building maintenance suffers due to access restrictions. Water damage and mold growth are common in hoarder homes along with structural damage due to insect and rodent infestation. Walls and floor can fail under the weight of accumulated stacks of the hoarder.
• Clutter stacks can fall blocking air circulation or across passages cutting travel.
• Fire hazards – much of the clutter encountered consists of flammable materials like paper, clothing, dried food, dried animal feces and others. This debris when in close proximity to stoves, heaters and in older homes incandescent bulbs increase the likelihood of fire. Wiring can be damaged by rodents chewing through the wire and a heat vent maybe covered with flammable materials. Faulty appliances and non-functional gas or electrical systems are typically found in a hoarder’s home. With all these combustibles just lying around any fire will spread quickly. Another hazard is that smoke is generated quickly and in large volumes. The hoarding piles makes searching for occupants problematical. Clutter blocks doors and windows making it difficult to negotiate through the stuff for residents and rescue workers.
• Socio-psychological problems. Many hoarders experience social withdrawal retreating from friends and neighbors because of their living conditions and lifestyle. The tend to avoid all social interaction.
o Depression – hoarding is often triggered by a stressful or traumatic experience involving a bitter loss or a serious disruption of the normal lifestyle. This hoarder’s mental disorder is accompanied by severe depression, anxiety and stress. This is a vicious cycle the feeds on itself and progressively gets worse and leads to serious mental illness and social problems.
o Hoarders have an emotional attachment to belongings and lack the ability to set priorities or even make an informed decision.
Cleanup hazards include disturbing bug populations. Where there is prey, there will be predators. Most predatory organisms are equipped with fangs and stings that can inject venom or bacterial organisms that can cause disease or major reactions in humans. Bites can cause infections. Mold or water damage may have weakened the structure.
How to Clean a Hoarder’s House Safely
Cleaning has its own hazards as well with the fumes of most of the powerful cleaning agents requiring good ventilation or some sort of protection for the cleanup crew.
The cleanup requires:
• Assessment and creating a cleanup plan.
• Earn the trust of the affect individual, remember they have an attachment to all that junk.
• Safety and efficiency require wearing protective gear for the workers like disposable gloves, dust masks and goggles. Equipment like fire extinguishers, bug repellants, flashlights and first aid kits. Also needed are the required cleaning supplies like heavy duty trash bags, empty boxes, buckets, brushes, sponges, mops, commercial grade vacuum cleaners air scrubbers and disinfectants.
• Staging a dumpster to dispose of accumulated debris.
• Removing clutter
• Sorting hoarded items as some items may even be salvageable after being cleaned and disinfected.
• Restoring the home – a contractor repairs damage, makes sure the appliances are working and everything is cleaned up.
• Organization of the home’s contents stressing neatness and a easy to follow plan of organization and maintenance.
• Paperwork includes insurance, legal, trusts and governing agencies.
Hoarder Cleanup, Mold Remediation & More in Quincy, Macomb, Hamilton, Warsaw & East Alton Illinois | Hannibal, Missouri
There is a process and hiring a pro can circumvent health issues, legal, safety and other intricacies associated with a hoarder cleanup. American Hometown Services has the experienced technicians to tackle hoarder cleanup. Contact us today!