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What Does An Unattended Death Mean?

Updated: 5 days ago

What Does An Unattended Death Mean

An unattended death occurs when a person dies alone. This is a common occurrence in elderly individuals who live alone; however, it can also happen when someone commits suicide or lives an isolated life.

This article will delve deeper into unattended deaths and how to deal with such a situation if you come upon a dead body.

What Is An Unattended Death?

The phrase "unattended death" refers to when someone dies without anyone around to witness or report it.

It could be noticed by someone within a few days, or the body could be left to decompose for months before discovery. Most unattended deaths happen in people who live alone, whether it is due to old age, natural causes, a drug overdose, or suicide.

The Handling Of An Unattended Death

Many unattended deaths are only reported once the body has started the decomposition process, making it challenging to handle.

The first step undertaken by authorities is often to determine the cause of death. If the body has been left to decompose for many months, this can be difficult. However, a coroner will likely be able to determine whether the death was caused by medical conditions, age, suicide, drugs, or a violent act.

Even if the cause is known, police may still open an investigation to dig deeper, despite an autopsy confirming there was no foul play. This can also be an investigation into family members and why no one did a welfare check on the deceased.

If a homicide is suspected, the police will open a criminal investigation into the cause of death and the motive.

What To Do When You Come Across An Unattended Death

Coming across a dead body can be harrowing, especially if it is a family member or loved one, which is why it is so important to know how to act.

1. Call the authorities

When you come across an unattended death, the very first step you need to take is to call the authorities.

If the person is recently deceased, the paramedics might instruct you to perform CPR and check for vitals.

However, this is only in rarer cases, as most unattended deaths are only discovered after a few days or weeks.

It is important that you don't disturb the scene in any way (unless instructed to check for vitals) as it is considered a crime scene.

The police will start a death investigation and record all the evidence found at the scene.

Try to cooperate with the authorities as much as possible, as well as down the line if it turns into a criminal investigation.

The authorities will most likely arrange for a coroner or funeral home to remove the body as part of their investigation.

2. Protect yourself

A decomposing body is a major biohazard, and you need to make sure you protect yourself. In most cases, the body has decomposed significantly, releasing pathogens and bacteria into the air and onto surfaces.

You need to leave the area and wait somewhere in a well-ventilated space or outside until the authorities arrive.

If it looks like the person who was found dead was the victim of a violent crime, immediately leave and go somewhere safe. Only return once the police have arrived on the scene.

3. Schedule an unattended death cleanup

If the person was a close family member or the death occurred on your property, you might be required to arrange for the death or suicide cleanup.

It is best to contact a professional crime scene cleanup and biohazard decontamination company, like Chore-ology, to ensure that all the dead tissue, blood, fluids, and hazardous material are properly removed and disposed of.

Cleaning Up An Unattended Death

Unattended death cleanup can be challenging, especially if the corpse has been left to decompose for a few weeks or months.

Hazardous bodily fluids can seep into any porous materials, and since blood contains bloodborne pathogens, this is a major safety hazard.

It might be tempting to clean the site of an undiscovered, untimely death yourself, but traditional cleaning methods won't suffice.

Professional cleaners like Chore-ology will remove all hazardous materials and completely decontaminate the area, ensuring it is once again safe to live in or occupy.

The cleanup process involves the following:

  • Wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect the cleaner.

  • Treating the area with disinfectants and enzymatic solvents to break down all biological matter.

  • Disposing of all biohazardous waste in a responsible manner according to protocols.

Chore-ology can help you with any insurance claims you may have to help pay for the cost of the cleanup.

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