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What to Do If you Encounter an Unattended Death

If an unattended death has taken place on your property, you may feel overwhelmed, unprepared or unsure what to do next.  An unattended death can be especially shocking when it involves a suicide or the violent death of a loved one.  While the initial discovery may be difficult, you must remember that scenes like this are hazardous to your safety.  It is important that you react with extreme caution and call the right professionals to respond to the scene.

Review the following to learn more about the recommended steps to take following an unattended death to help you navigate this difficult and often traumatic experience.

  1. Contact the Police

When a death has taken place, the police need to be informed.  If a suicide or homicide has occurred, local authorities will treat the place of death as a crime scene.  If you have discovered an unattended death and are fairly certain it has resulted from natural causes, you should still contact local authorities to help determine cause of death.

  1. Make Transportation Arrangements

It is often unclear as to who is responsible for removing the body.  Is the family or property owner responsible?  This will basically depend on the way in which the person died.  If the death was due to natural causes, a funeral home of the family’s choice will enter the home and remove the body.  If a funeral home has not yet been selected, a body is discovered outside a person’s home, or it is suspected that a body inside a home died due to suspicious causes, a coroner is responsible for the body.  The coroner’s responsibility is to identify the body, determine the cause of death, remove the body and notify any relatives.

  1. Contact a Professional Cleanup Company

What to Do If you Encounter an Unattended Death

ServiceMaster by Disaster Recon provides trauma and crime scene cleaning services to effectively remove biohazard materials from the scene of an accident

Deceased bodies contain potentially harmful pathogens and if the cause of death left behind a mess to clean up, anyone inside the home could be exposed to infection or diseases, especially if it has taken an extended period of time for the body to be discovered.  Once the body has been removed, the unpleasant task of cleaning up the site must begin.  It is best to leave any crime scene cleaning, biohazard cleaning or trauma cleanup to the professionals.  Blood and bodily fluids present in flooring, walls, ceilings, and furniture can expose residents of the home to blood borne pathogens following an unattended death for quite some time.

Why is it important to hire a professional Trauma and Crime Scene Cleaning Service?

Dangerous biohazards such as blood and bodily fluids are often found on a crime or trauma scene and require immediate attention.  If biohazard cleaning is not done properly, it can lead to the spread of infection or diseases.  It is also easy to unintentionally cross-contaminate your home especially if the cleaning does not commence immediately. 

ServiceMaster by Disaster Recon provides trauma and crime scene cleaning services to effectively remove biohazard materials from the scene of an accident or violent crime in an effort to fully and promptly restore your home.  Certified technicians handle the removal of biohazard materials and use hospital grade cleaning solutions to ensure the scene is thoroughly cleaned and disinfected.  Biohazard materials are safely transported and disposed at a licensed medical waste facility. ServiceMaster by Disaster Recon technicians are trained to work with law enforcement professionals to avoid jeopardizing the crime scene investigation.  We approach a trauma scene with a sense of compassion to help ease the emotional burden of friends and family of the victim.

  1. Contact Family and Friends

Begin reaching out to friends and family for help contacting those who need to be informed of the death.  Ask others for help making phone calls or sending out appropriate communication.  In cases of suicide or homicide, you may need to clarify how you want communication to be handled.

  1. Arrange for a Place to Stay

Often times the process involved in cleaning your home may take some time.  Arrange to stay with family or friends during the cleaning process to provide you with some distance from the scene. This will also help prevent any cross-contamination that is likely to occur in your home before all biohazard cleaning is complete.

  1. Gather Documents

You may be the person responsible for getting your loved one’s affairs in order.  This can be an overwhelming task but there are resources out there to help provide some initial direction and a starting point of a list of items you will need to collect.

  1. Get the Support you Need

Make sure to reach out to others about your feelings as you begin the healing process.  If you have experienced the suicide of a loved one, resources such as Alliance of Hope can help.  You can also contact your local hospice or medical provider to find out about local grief support groups or conduct a search online for grief counseling services located near you. There is support available when you are ready.

  1. Ask for Help

It is understandable to feel overwhelmed and you will require time to process what has taken place.  You will likely be faced with a list of tasks following the death of a loved one.  Do not hesitate to ask others for help.  One task that will likely need to be done is contacting your homeowner’s insurance provider to make a claim to cover the cleanup costs following an unattended death.  Ask your professional cleaning contractor for assistance in navigating the claims process and remember not to take on too many responsibilities on your own during this difficult time.

The scene of an unattended death is a traumatic experience.  Contact ServiceMaster by Disaster Recon for professional crime and trauma scene cleaning services once you have reached out to the authorities.  You can count on our team to effectively remove dangerous biohazard materials from crime and trauma scenes while taking a compassionate approach to provide peace of mind for those involved.  You can reach us 24 hours a day at (440) 799-6661 for emergency trauma scene cleaning services in Cleveland, OH.

About the author

Luke Armstrong

Expert in emergency fire and water restoration services, fire cleanup and water damage cleanup, mold removal, as well as commercial and residential cleaning services, including carpet, upholstery and furniture cleaning. Contributor to several restoration and cleaning blogs.

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