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Crime Scene Cleanup: Debunking The Myths

Updated: May 29

Crime Scene Cleanup - Debunking The Myths

Whether it's a case of homicide, suicide, or an unfortunate accident, there are many misconceptions when it comes to crime scene cleanup.

Many people don't realize the emotional and psychological effects crimes have on those involved, especially when a death occurs. Restoring the property and cleaning up the scene of the incident needs to be done quickly (and compassionately!), for victims to resume any level of normalcy.

The cleanup process involves the removal of biohazards, such as bloodborne pathogens and bodily fluids, and restoring the property to a safe and habitable condition.

Professional biohazard remediation services understand how to handle the affected areas safely and the compassion needed when dealing with emotionally vulnerable individuals.

The stark reality of criminal investigation cleanups is very different from what is portrayed on TV shows and movies.

In this article, we'll debunk common misconceptions and myths surrounding this sensitive yet essential service. We will provide you with accurate information based on facts regarding professional biohazard cleaning services and proper disposal. This includes who's responsible for the cleaning process and if an insurance policy covers the cost of crime scene cleaners - and more!

9 Common Myths About Crime Scene Cleanup

Let's debunk various crime scene cleanup myths:

Myth 1: You can clean up crime scenes yourself

This is probably the most common misconception about crime scene cleaning.

Often, the general public assumes it's "fine" to clean up blood and other bodily fluids (with a bit of bleach) themselves.

This couldn't be more wrong.

Crime scene cleanup is nothing like "regular cleaning". It requires a meticulous approach, personal protective equipment (PPE), and extensive training in handling biohazardous material and safe disposal practices.

Attempting to clean up the scene of a crime is very dangerous for the "average Joe". Biohazardous materials - such as blood, semen, feces, discarded needles or sharp objects, human tissue, etc. - contain harmful pathogens that can transmit serious illnesses such as HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis A, B, or C. These diseases can be fatal if not treated correctly.

Debunking: Crime scene cleaners have the necessary training, PPE, cleaning agents, and specialized equipment to clean the affected area(s) thoroughly. They adhere to strict safety protocols and legal regulations to ensure the well-being of everyone involved.

Myth 2: Law enforcement cleans up crime scenes

Another misconception about crime scene cleanups is that law enforcement or emergency medical responders are responsible for the task.

Again, this is not true.

While we can assume these professionals offer such services, they rarely have the required training and expertise to handle cleanup scenarios efficiently. Medical responders are there to offer immediate medical attention to individuals at the scene. Law enforcement covers the legality of reporting, investigating, and documenting the incident.

Biohazard cleanup, as mentioned, requires specialized training and equipment to remove contaminated items from the crime scene safely.

Debunking: Wherever the crime was committed, the property owner is responsible for the biohazard cleanup. For instance, if the incident happened in a restaurant, the restaurant owner must pay the bill. Similarly, if a homicide or suicide occurred at a residential property, the property owner or next of kin is liable for all costs involved.

Law enforcement personnel can provide guidance on which biohazard remediation companies to use, ensuring proper disposal and handling of the aftermath.

Myth 3: Biohazard cleanup services are only necessary when blood is present

Not all biohazardous materials are visible to the naked eye.

While blood is an "obvious" indicator, microscopic bloodborne pathogens can splatter widely around the scene. Other bodily fluids, tissues, animal waste, needles, and weapons also pose significant health risks if not handled properly.

Debunking: Professional cleaners are trained to identify and remove a wide range of biohazards. This ensures the complete decontamination of the property and safe disposal of hazardous materials. Bacteria and viruses pose a safety threat, even to the healthiest individuals, especially when decomposition or an unattended death has occurred.

Myth 4: Only violent crimes require cleanup services

It's common to think crime scene cleaning is only necessary when a violent death has occurred, but it is not limited to violent situations.

Infectious materials can be present in various scenarios, including unattended deaths, suicides, accidents, and non-violent crime scenes.

Debunking: Toxic materials, apart from blood, human tissue, and bodily fluids, include weapons, broken glass, chemicals, medications, and discarded needles. All of these items pose a safety risk and need trained technicians to safely remove them.

Myth 5: Insurance covers biohazard cleanup

While many insurance companies do offer death cleanup coverage, there are limitations to what is and isn't covered.

Debunking: The cost of crime scene cleanup does not solely lie on an insurance company's shoulders. It's best to speak with your broker to verify the specifications of the biohazard remediation cover. In some cases, insurance might cover a portion of expenses whereby you are liable for the balance. Consider looking into payment plans or finance options.

Myth 6: Death cleanup is emotionally easy and quick to do

Contrary to common belief, trauma cleaning is neither quick nor emotionally easy.

The aftermath of any crime is emotionally and psychologically taxing on everyone involved - including crime scene cleaners.

Debunking: The process requires a meticulous approach which is time-consuming, methodical, and potentially dangerous. Technicians need the skills, compassion, and sensitivity to remove biohazardous materials and deodorize, sanitize, and restore the affected area(s).

Myth 7: Crime scene cleanup is a low-skilled job

While this is not a regulated industry, employees of crime scene cleanup companies do undergo rigorous training.

It's worth mentioning that cleanup crews and crime scene investigators are two different professions. Investigators analyze the scene of an incident to file a report, while cleaners decontaminate and restore the area.

Debunking: In most cases, reputable crime scene cleaning companies are required to have certain certificates, permits, and licenses (e.g. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), state and local licensing, etc.). This ensures they are compliant and authorized to handle, transport, and remove biohazard waste from crime scenes.

Myth 8: Crime scene cleanup is not necessary

Some may question if trauma cleanups are a necessity.

Debunking: An uncleaned crime scene poses significant health risks. From the spreading of infection to unsanitary conditions and potentially fatal outcomes when not handled correctly, crime scene cleaners are a must!

These professionals are trained to remove biohazardous waste, fluids, and debris. They're equipped with PPE gear (e.g. hazmat suits, safety goggles, gloves, etc.), specialized equipment, and unique cleaning products to decontaminate crime scenes safely and responsibly.

Myth 9: Victims are disrespected by cleanup crews

It's common to think scenes of crimes are cold and insensitive, and that this is just "part of the job". However, this couldn't be further from the truth!

Debunking: Crime scene cleanup companies show the utmost respect to the victims involved and work carefully not to damage the property and surrounding areas.

What Should You Do In The Aftermath Of A Crime?

Here's a quick guide:

  • Do not enter the scene of a crime or incident to avoid disrupting forensic evidence.

  • Call the police immediately and wait outside until they arrive. They will most likely ask you a few questions about what has occurred. You may also have to call an ambulance.

  • Contact your insurance company to report the incident and verify your biohazard cleanup cover.

  • When police and crime scene investigators inform you that they have finished, contact a reputable biohazard decontamination company. Chore-ology is the industry leader in biohazard decontamination in the greater Seattle region. Our highly skilled teams have the expertise, knowledge, and sensitivity to handle difficult biohazardous cleanups.

  • Contact a psychologist or grief counselor to help you cope with the loss of a loved one and the impact a violent crime scene has on your psyche.

  • Take some time to process the traumatic incident and allow yourself to heal.

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