What to Do If You Encounter an Unattended Death
Discovering the remains of someone who has passed away unattended is an overwhelming experience. The unexpected death may be due to various reasons, including suicide, homicide accident or natural causes. Whatever caused a person’s death, encountering a lifeless body is more than likely to be a shocking moment.
An unattended death, specifically, describes a scenario when an individual passes away and is not found for a period of time. Hours, days, weeks or even months may pass without anyone realizing the occurrence of death. Individuals who live alone or who experience sudden health conditions, like a heart attack or stroke, are commonly susceptible to dying alone.
Steps must be taken to appropriately handle the remains of the deceased when you come across an unattended death. The deceased’s body exposes the surrounding life to harmful pathogens and possibly disease. Plus, proper procedures should be followed, which are detailed here:
Contact authorities. Call 911 when you discover the individual’s body. Report the situation to police, who will arrive at the scene. Even if the deceased passed due to natural causes, it’s important that a professional determines the exact cause of death. A local coroner’s office will confirm the cause of death. In most circumstances, the remains will be transported to the coroner’s office.
Arrange to transport the body. The deceased must be transported to a mortuary or crematorium. If the Medical Examiner’s office determines foul play is not involved and an investigation is unnecessary, the closest kin is responsible for transferring the body. You may wish to keep on hand the contact information of preferred funeral homes.
Reach out to friends and family. Notify friends and family of the individual’s unattended passing. Affiliates of the individual’s church, business associates and other members of the deceased’s social circle should be alerted. Social media is helpful to convey the passing. You’ll find a valuable support system in these contacts, as well.
Refrain from a do-it-yourself cleanup. Biohazard cleanup is a dangerous job. Airborne pathogens circulate and harmful bacteria are unleashed during the body’s decomposition process. Don’t risk your health by attempting to clean the area. You could end up exposing yourself to serious illness.
Contact a professional cleanup service. When a person unexpectedly dies alone, the remains begin to decompose within hours. Bodily fluids leak into carpets, flooring and bedding. The decay process is rapid. Harmful pathogens release into the environment as a result of the decomposition.
Even if the death is due to natural causes and the body has been left for only a few hours, the surroundings require critical, swift and professional cleaning.
If violence was involved in the death, blood may be splattered along the walls, bodily fluids may contaminate the property and dangerous bacteria likely soil the area. Foul odors will linger and need to be addressed.
A professional biohazard cleaning service should be contacted immediately to start the cleanup process. Biohazard cleaning technicians wear protective gear and have specialized training to clean unattended death scenes. The expertise of cleanup specialists is critical to prevent those living in the home from being exposed to dangerous pathogens.
The property itself can be uninhabitable and unsafe for a length of time until professional cleanup services address the home. Included in the aftermath of an unattended death cleanup are sanitization of the area, deodorization and restoration of the scene.
Begin the insurance process. Getting started on insurance paperwork during this difficult time is the last item on your agenda of things to do after encountering an unattended death. However, your cleanup team will help you get started on filing a claim with your homeowner’s insurance to cover the cost of the cleaning. A reputable cleaning company will take you step by step through the insurance paperwork.
Seek counseling. Coming across the scene of an unattended death is devastating. Whether the deceased was a family member, friend or even a criminal inside your home, professional counselors and psychologists can help guide you through the difficult emotions.
Reduce the chances of an unattended death. As summer approaches, the elderly who live alone are vulnerable to numerous risks associated with the intense, scorching temperatures. Heat stress can be fatal. Variations of heat stress include heat stroke, heat exhaustion and even water intoxication. Families can prevent medical emergencies and unattended deaths during these hot, dry months. Moving seniors to cooler locations can help avoid heat exhaustion. Heat stroke, which shortly follows heat exhaustion, can damage the brain or lead to death. The rapid intake of water can lead to water intoxication, seizures, coma and eventual death. Be sure that susceptible individuals hydrate adequately and do not overdo their water intake.
Keep handy the company contact information of a trusted, local biohazard cleaning company, like ServiceMaster First Response. When the unexpected occurs, you’ll be prepared. The skilled technicians at ServiceMaster First Response follow Occupational Health and Safety Administration regulations to properly clean a home after the unattended death scene is discovered. Plus, the company follows all local, state and federal safety standards. Proper disposal of biohazard materials is included in the service. The ServiceMaster First Response specialists use advanced cleaning methods and wear personal protective equipment to stay safe while cleaning the affected areas.
ServiceMaster First Response is highly experienced in all facets of biohazard cleaning. The team has the skills to work with law enforcement agencies and avoid compromising a crime scene during an investigation. Plus, throughout the trauma scene cleanup process, the company’s certified technicians are trained to offer sensitivity and compassion to families who are grieving as a result of the unexpected loss.
ServiceMaster First Response serves the Reno, NV community of residential homes. The team of specialists are available 24 hours a day to take your emergency call. Trust ServiceMaster First Response to swiftly clean, sanitize and thoroughly restore your home so that it is safe to inhabit once again.