A hoarding incident can be just as severe as a violent crime scene, or even worse in some cases. With the presence of animals, a distinct possibility there is the danger of disease, and there are also dangerous objects to be found such as broken glass, machinery and rusted nails.
That is why in serious cases a professional team is usually brought in with specialized training, methods and equipment. This team comes from a crime scene cleanup company because both situations require the same set of skills and knowledge. The hoarding cleanup process is a standardized procedure designed to be safe and thorough.
A Step by Step Process: First Things First
There are several stages involved and factors at work. Before the team gets to work, however, they must make an assessment.
- The first thing the team does is investigate the situation and take note of the scope of the project and more importantly, the dangers that they might face. These risks can include animals alive or dead, fecal matter, mold, damaged items or structural weaknesses. The team needs to know if they are at risk of injury or, more likely, disease.
- Next, the clutter cleanup team makes the appropriate preparations. They will don the various parts of their hazmat suit and safety gear. Then, the cleanup site will usually be prepared by positioning dumpsters and storage containers outside.
- The team will also research local laws and ordinances regarding waste disposal. These vary from state to county to even town so the appropriate precautions must be taken.
Sorting and Removal
Next, comes the task of removing the items from the structure. Great care is taken to respect the mental illness that causes hoarding and the value these items may hold for owners.
- First, the team works with the hoarder or the family of the hoarder in the case of there being an unattended death. They decide with the client which items to keep and which items to remove. The team will help the hoarder and their family by making categories for items which commonly consist of “keep,” “donate” and “dispose of.”
- In the case of “keep,” the cleanup company team will help with choosing a preferred storage method and implementing that plan. In the case of “donate” the team likely has knowledge of organizations that will accept items. For “dispose of,” teams will comply with laws and regulations regarding the disposal of hazardous materials.
- In most cases of hoarding, there are non-standard waste items that must be disposed of in particular ways such as batteries, paints and solvents or medications. The team will transport these items to the appropriate waste disposal facilities.
- For all standard waste, the cleanup company will employ their privately-owned dumpsters. Alternatively, they may procure or help secure one.
Finally, the team cleans and treats the structure with necessary procedures. The final step can be a simple clean up or intensive remediation involving bacteria, animal waste or mold depending on the situation. This process must be detail oriented to prevent the lingering of contaminants and the spread of disease.
Hoarding cleanup teams are not just movers; great care goes into what and how they remove things. Professional clutter cleanup requires expertise, compassion and respect.