Imagine going into a smoke-filled home with boxes and papers stacked from floor to ceiling. You can’t see anything and getting through the house is almost impossible. That is the type of situation the Tempe Fire Department encounters all too often. Hoarding makes it difficult for first responders to help in the event of an emergency. It’s a dangerous problem all around the Valley and in Tempe, but help is available.
Tempe firefighters have encountered many cases of hoarding. It’s a dangerous trend that risks the lives of firefighters and residents alike. According to Hartford Hospital, compulsive hoarding may affect up to two million people in the United States. Obsessive hoarding can cost thousands of dollars and isolate people from their friends and family.
Animal hoarding can be just as dangerous as hoarding material objects. Early intervention is the key to preventing the suffering caused by animal hoarding. Thousands of animals suffer and some die in due to unsafe surroundings. Often times, the homeowner is living in feces while breathing acrid ammonia.
There are ways to control hoarding behaviors.
Tips to stop mild hoarding include:
• Putting items into piles.
• Having more possessions is not necessarily better.
• Learning to get past your imperfections; it's okay to make mistakes
• Understanding what you're afraid of and recognize when your fears are irrational.
• Being patient and persistent.
• Recognizing that the clean-up effort won’t happen overnight.
• Knowing when to ask for help.
People with friends or loved ones who may have a problem with hoarding can seek help from the Arizona Hoarding Task Force at www.azhoarding.com. Arizona Hoarding Task Force provides guidance in finding support groups and personal organization services. Tempe residents also can find help through CARE 7 – City of Tempe Crisis Response Team at 480-350-8004. Download the Care 7 hoarding brochure.
If you have an emergency call 9-1-1. For non-emergencies, call the Tempe Fire Department at 480-858-7200.