HOARDERS have been warned by Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service about the potential hazards they are posing to themselves by keeping clutter in their homes.

The warnings come as part of this week's first UK Hoarding Awareness Week.

Adrian Elliott, Group Commander of the fire and rescue service’s community safety department, said: “Fires in properties where individuals have a tendency to hoard create very specific risks and hazards and can create significant risks to individuals, the community and our fire crews.

“Fire crews are visiting more and more properties where hoarding is an issue and it is important to make people aware of what the risks involved are.

“If you know someone who stores large amounts of possessions in and around their home and you feel that they may benefit from help, there are many organisations that will support this process.”

The main warning from the fire service to hoarders is to avoid newspaper and mail being stored in bulk as they will cause a fire to spread rapidly and to make sure they have planned an escape route if an emergency should arise.

Mr Elliott also urged people to take necessary precautions to keep themselves as well as vulnerable individuals safe from danger, including fitting smoke alarms on every level of their homes and testing the batteries in the alarms every week.

Other advice from Mr Elliott includes closing inside doors at night to stop fires from spreading, unplugging appliances when they are not in use, stubbing cigarettes out properly and disposing of them carefully and making sure candles are secured and away from materials that may catch fire.