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How To Clean Up After An Unattended Death

Updated: 5 days ago

How To Clean Up After An Unattended Death

An unattended death occurs when someone dies alone and the body is left for a certain period of time (from days to months). It is a common occurrence in older adults who live alone.

The unattended death cleanup process (also called biohazard remediation) is different from more common crime scene cleanups, as the body has often decomposed, making the process much more challenging.

This article will discuss the cleanup process of an unattended death and the associated biohazards.

The Unattended Death Cleanup Process

The process of an unattended death cleanup is no easy task. When a person dies and their body is not discovered immediately, it will start decomposing, releasing gases and contaminating the area.

Decomposing bodies and body fluids can contain pathogens that pose additional risks to cleaners.

1. Preparing for the biohazard cleanup

Cleaners must be properly trained to deal with human decomposition. Personal protective equipment (PPE) must be worn to protect the cleaner from hazardous materials and to prevent further contamination of the scene.

PPE worn for unattended death cleaning includes:

  • Protective full-body suit

  • Gloves

  • Respirator or mask (often full-face covering)

  • Chemical spill boots or protective shoe coverings (called booties).

2. Removal and cleaning

Firstly, the dead body must be removed from the site to prevent any further contamination. This will be done by first responders or a medical team.

Next, the team of cleaners will thoroughly clean and disinfect the area.

This includes removing any bodily fluids and contaminated items, like upholstery or carpets. Professional cleanup services will remove all physical and microbial signs of blood, bloodborne pathogens, body fluids, and any other biohazards.

Surfaces will be treated with an enzyme solvent that breaks down biological material as well as disinfectants. The purpose of this step is to kill any bacteria, viruses, or other pathogens.

Deodorizers, such as fogger machines, are deployed to get rid of any lingering odors commonly associated with an unattended death scene.

3. Properly dispose of hazardous materials

The next step of unattended death cleanup is to dispose of the hazardous materials collected at the site. Any medical waste, contaminated biohazard materials, and bodily fluids must be disposed of in accordance with local laws.

While most surfaces can be cleaned and disinfected, some materials, like carpets or upholstery, will have to be cut out and removed.

These materials can't simply be placed in normal household trash as it would lead to contamination and the spread of disease.

4. Certificate issuing

If required, a cleanup company can issue the property owner a certificate that the property has been cleaned and is safe for human habitation again.

Cleanup crews will use fluorescent lights to check that no biological material is left at the property so that the owners can rest assured that the site has been properly cleaned and decontaminated.

Risks Associated With Unattended Deaths

Cleaning the scene of an unattended death involves more than just scrubbing the floors and wiping down surfaces.

When a person dies, they start to decompose relatively quickly. This releases bacteria, viruses, and pathogens into the air and onto surfaces in the vicinity. And, when left unattended for weeks or months, body decomposition will reach advanced stages.

Porous materials may become saturated with hazardous fluids and will need proper disposal. This includes wood, drywall, and even concrete.

As the health risks of dealing with an unattended death are very high, professional cleaning services should be used.

Why Hiring Professional Cleaning Agents Is Essential

Dealing with the death of a loved one is difficult, and you might want to start the cleanup process yourself to get it over with as soon as possible. However, traditional home cleaning solutions are not enough to clean and decontaminate the area in which an unattended death occurred.

It is not safe for family members to clean up an unattended death scene by themselves. They lack the necessary know-how and equipment to safely clean the area.

Hiring a professional biohazard decontamination and cleanup company, like Chore-ology, will ensure that the cleanup process is thorough and that all hazardous materials are safely removed and disposed of.

What To Do In The Event Of An Unattended Death

It can be unnerving to come across an unattended death scene, especially if it was someone you knew and loved.

Knowing what to do in such an event is crucial to protect yourself and prevent contamination.

1. Contact first responders

When you find a body, your first step is to contact first responders. Calling the police is a good option, as well as an ambulance service. The first responders will remove the body and take it to a coroner.

The coroner will be able to determine the cause of death.

2. Stay clear of the area

Don't try to tackle biohazard remediation yourself. As mentioned, a decomposing body releases pathogens and chemicals which are harmful.

It is best to immediately vacate the area.

3. Call professional biohazard cleaners

Unattended death cleanup should be left to the professionals. Biohazard cleanup teams like Chore-ology can properly clean the area, removing pathogens and physical materials (like blood or bodily fluids).

Professional cleaners will be able to restore the property to a safe and livable condition. They will remove infected surfaces like carpets or drywall to ensure there are no contaminants left on the property.

4. File insurance claim

It can be expensive to pay for the cleanup of unattended deaths, which is why you should file an insurance claim to cover these necessary costs. Chore-ology can help you deal with your insurance company for a stress-free process.

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