What Is an Unattended Death?
An unattended death is a situation where a person dies alone, and their body is discovered after a prolonged period without anyone knowing of their passing. Unattended deaths can happen in many different circumstances, such as when someone dies in their home or apartment and has no family or friends to check on them regularly or when someone dies in a public place without anyone noticing.
Unattended deaths can happen due to natural causes such as heart attacks, strokes, accidents, or other factors. They can also be a result of suicide or homicide. Because the person has died alone and may not have been found for some time, unattended deaths can present a significant challenge to law enforcement, medical professionals, and funeral directors, who must determine the cause of death and handle the body.
Are Unattended Deaths Common?
The frequency of unattended deaths can vary depending on various factors such as age, living situation, and health status. However, unattended deaths are not uncommon. They can happen more frequently among elderly people who live alone or have no regular contact with family or friends. Unattended deaths can also occur in younger individuals due to drug overdoses, accidents, or suicide.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in the United States, there were approximately 3.3 million deaths in 2019. Of these, a significant proportion were likely unattended deaths. The exact number of unattended deaths is difficult to determine since they often go undiscovered for some time.
However, medical examiners and coroners are responsible for investigating deaths, and they have procedures in place to identify and handle unattended deaths.
How Fast Can Bodies Decompose?
Not all bodies decompose on the same timeline. Decomposition of a body varies depending on a number of factors— such as temperature, moisture, presence of insects and other scavengers, and whether the body is buried, submerged, or left in the open air.
Under normal conditions, without any embalming or other preservation, a body will typically start to decompose within a few hours to a few days after death. This can make finding an unattended death and cleaning up after one a very messy situation.
Who Cleans Up an Unattended Death?
In most cases, the responsibility of cleaning up after an unattended death falls on the property owner or their authorized representative, such as the executor of the deceased’s estate or a family member.
However, depending on the circumstances, there may be specialized professionals, such as biohazard cleanup companies, who are trained and equipped to handle the cleanup process. That is where organizations like ours comes in. We are usually the people property owners and family members call to clean up what is left behind after the body has been removed.
It’s important to note that unattended deaths can present biohazard risks, such as the presence of bodily fluids and decomposition odors, which require proper handling and disposal to ensure the safety of those involved in the cleanup process. This is why it is imperative to call a company like the BioClean team.
We are trained professionals with deep expertise in removing biohazardous waste. Plus, unless used to it, cleaning up an unattended death is a nasty job to say the least. Just skip the mess and call us instead so that we can properly clean up and disinfect the affected area.
What To Do if You Find a Deceased Person
If a person finds a dead body, they should follow these steps:
Call 911 or the local emergency services immediately. The police or emergency medical personnel will need to be notified to respond to the scene.
Do not touch or move the body. It’s important to preserve the scene as much as possible to help authorities investigate the cause of death.
If it’s safe to do so, the person who found the body should remain at the scene until the police and medical personnel arrive. They may be asked to provide a statement or answer questions about what they saw.
Cooperate with the authorities. Once the authorities arrive, they will take over the investigation. It’s important to cooperate with them and provide any information that may be helpful.
Seek support. Finding a dead body can be traumatic and may cause emotional distress. It’s important to seek support from friends, family, or a professional if needed.
If you find yourself in a situation where you need to clean up after an unattended death, give us a call. Our team is discrete, compassionate, and professional. We will efficiently disinfect and clean the space so that it may be inhabited once again without posing a health threat.