It would be pointless to say that death is a regular part of life. While ostensibly true, the concept of death typically exists in a vague and nebulous way for most people. Rarely do we have to confront the concept directly and even rarer is a physical confrontation with a dead body. However, countless individuals every year walk into a room only to find what is defined as an unattended death. When this situation happens, as it has so many times before, few people are ready to handle it. Today, we are going to guide you through the process of dealing with an unattended death from discovery to transportation and all the way back to biohazard remediation.
What Is An Unattended Death?
An unattended death, simply put, is an event where an individual dies and their body is left undiscovered for days, weeks, or even months. An unexpected death can be due to trauma, accident, or even crime.
During this time, there are several events that begin happening. Depending on the climate that the body was left in, and the environmental factors of the room itself, the rate of decomposition can have startling effects on the surrounding area. As bodily fluids begin to secrete and the process of decomposition hits full swing, serious issues can begin to manifest. We’ll dig deep into this topic during our discussion on biohazard remediation.
Unattended Death Checklist
Let’s say that you are a landlord and you have rented property to someone named John. When June 1st rolls around, you notice that their rent check has not appeared. You give John another couple of days before you begin to hound him. Only, after a few days, you realize that he is not answering your calls. Worried that he could be avoiding you, you decide to head over to the property to confront him yourself. Only, when you arrive, nobody answers the door. Using your key, you enter the property to find that John has passed away. This is a nightmarish situation and one that few people are ready to handle. What do you do in this situation?
1) Offer Aid, If Possible
If there is even a possibility that John is still alive, your first act should be to offer aid. Since this is an unattended death checklist, we’ll skip past this part.
2) Immediately Notify Law Enforcement
You are not a detective and as such, you should not even attempt to contaminate the scene in order to figure out ‘what happened’. Your first task is to alert the authorities that there has been a death. Immediately call your local law enforcement and describe the situation in as full detail as you can.
3) Contact Verified Relatives
After law enforcement officials have arrived, your time on the scene of the incident has come to an end — at least for now. During this phase, as the medical examiner does their job in order to determine foul play, you must contact the immediate family members of the deceased individual. Verify that you are speaking with an actual family member before releasing any information regarding the death.
4) Arrange Transportation
If the medical examiner decides that there is no foul play, it will fall to you to arrange transportation of the body. Contact local crematoriums or mortuaries in order to get the deceased individual to a place where they can be prepared for whatever their family members have in mind in terms of funerary service.
5) Begin Biohazard Remediation
It stands to reason that you are probably not a biohazard cleanup expert. In the interest of safety, it is now time for you to call upon a biohazard remediation team in order to clean, sanitize and make whole the residence once again. This is where the work truly begins.
6) Make An Insurance Claim
After biohazard remediation efforts have been made, it is time to put in a claim with your insurance provider. Use documents supplied by local law enforcement as well as your biohazard cleanup team in order to verify the authenticity of your claim.
Unattended Death Cleanup: Biohazard Remediation
In the wake of an unattended death, there are going to be several environmental factors that come into play which could put you and your neighbors at risk. As we began discussing above, the decomposition of a body can lead directly to severely problematic results. As the decomposition of a body begins, the reality of deadly pathogens begins to present itself in a few key ways:
- Bloodborne Pathogens
- Bodily Fluids
- Sharp Items (Knives, Needles, etc)
These pathogens could lead directly to the spread of serious diseases such as Legionnaires, HIV, Hep C and more. Particularly problematic is the fact that these pathogens can spread to every surface in the room: carpet, tile, wood, furniture and more. Due to the danger involved in these pathogens, all cleaning must be done by a certified biohazard remediation team. Listed below, you’ll find the typical cleanup process.
Arrival & Cleanup – A professional remediation team will arrive at your premises in an unmarked vehicle for the sake of your privacy. The room in question will be inspected before initial cleanup services begin.
Sanitization – Once the initial cleanup process has finished, biohazard remediation professionals armed with industry quality PPE (personal protective equipment) will begin to make your property safe and sanitary once again. This process includes a thorough deodorization to ensure that your property is restored to some semblance of normalcy.
Biohazard Disposal – Once cleanup and sanitization services are done, all hazardous materials will be disposed of according to state and federal guidelines. This is an important step to ensure the continued safety of individuals using the property. After this step, your property is safe to use again but you will still need to restore it to its prior level.
Dealing With the Unattended Death of a Loved One
In our initial example, we followed the path of a landlord dealing with the unexpected and unattended death of a loved one. While this is a possible situation, one that happens all of the time throughout the world, it isn’t the only form of unattended death that is being dealt with.
Sometimes, people will be forced to deal with the unexpected and unattended death of a loved one. While the checklist that you follow is still going to be the same, the emotional devastation is going to be quite different. In the event that you have to deal with the unattended death of a loved one, there are a few additional steps you should consider taking.
1) Lean On Your Support System
As you deal with loss and grief, you need to begin leaning on your support system. Whether you turn to family or friends, it is of the utmost importance that you find solace where you can. Do not feel compelled to deal with your grief alone.
2) Pursue Grief Counseling
In the same way that talking to a friend can help, pursuing grief counseling from a certified therapist can be even more beneficial. Grief makes us act irrationally and many tragic deaths are followed by mental and emotional breakdowns due to a lack of supportive counseling. While your feelings are valid, pursuing assistance from a counselor can help to cushion the impact.
At the end of the day, death is as normal a part of the human experience as life itself. Still, that doesn’t mean that we are always prepared to handle it. Use our checklist and the information above in order to help better prepare yourself during your time of need.