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Unattended Death in Riverside, What Should You Do?

2/14/2022 (Permalink)

Cell phone with red screen and 911 dialed When discovering an unattended death, the first step is contact authorities by dialing 911.

Death is always difficult to face, especially when a loved one dies alone.

Death is called an unattended death and requires a thorough, careful approach to remediate the scene.

In this blog, we’ll discuss the steps you can take to clean up after an unattended death, and when to hire after death cleaning services.

What Does Unattended Death Mean?

The term unattended death refers to a case where nobody discovers the deceased’s body for days, weeks, or months.

Today, unattended deaths are most common with older adults, especially those who live alone and do not have family or friends that check on them frequently. In other cases, unattended death can be the result of an accident, suicide, or homicide. 

What to Do after an Unattended Death

When a person dies, the natural process of decomposition begins quickly. Within hours of death, dangerous bacteria are released into the air surrounding the body and will start to impact nearby materials. This bacteria causes the odor of decomposition, and remediating it requires a comprehensive, skilled approach. It’s not enough to bleach the floors and throw away the bedding.

Instead, take the following steps to begin reclaiming the area:

  • Contact the authorities. The first thing you should do if you find yourself in the unfortunate position of discovering an unattended death is to call 911. Police will arrive at the scene to investigate and determine the cause of death. Even if the deceased died of natural causes, this is a critical step. The police will help you contact the local coroner’s office, who will transport the body to the morgue. 
  • Notify friends and family. Since the death was unattended, friends and family won’t know the deceased has passed. Reach out to notify friends, family members, congregants at the individual’s church, and other individuals in the social circle of the person’s passing. 
  • Avoid DIY cleanup. Biohazard cleanup can be dangerous. Don’t risk your health or wellbeing by trying to clean the area on your own. Instead, contact a professional cleanup service to deal with substances like bodily fluids, blood, and other pathogens. You should also wait to collect sentimental items from the deceased’s home, as they may be contaminated. 

Why is Proper Unattended Death Cleanup Important?

Cleaning and sanitizing an area after an unattended death isn’t an easy job. When an unattended death occurs in a residence, it creates a variety of infectious materials that can be dangerous for years–unless they’re dealt with properly. If you intended to sell or rent the property in the future, it’s critical to ensure proper cleanup now. 

Here are a few reasons it’s critical to hire a professional unattended-death cleanup team: 

  • Porous material, including wood, carpet, drywall, and concrete absorb body fluids. Unfortunately, surface cleaning these porous materials won’t sterilize them, and you should never attempt to do so on your own. Instead, contact a bioremediation company that can properly dispose of these items for you.
  • Depending on the health of the deceased person before their death, there’s a potential to encounter bloodborne pathogens at the unattended death site, which can be dangerous for anyone in the area. Professional cleanup crews wearing commercial-grade personal protective equipment (PPE) are the only ones who can enter the area safely.
  • While decomposition is perfectly normal, traditional home cleaning solutions aren’t sufficient to safely clean, sanitize and disinfect areas affected by human decomposition. Instead, you need a professional team that has access to the cleaning compounds and commercial tools needed to resolve contamination resulting from decomposition. 
  • It’s impossible to get rid of all traces of biological material with DIY cleaning tactics. Unfortunately, even a trace amount of biological material left behind can make a residence unsafe to live in and render it impossible to sell or rent. 

Don’t the Police Help Clean up? 

The short answer to this question is no. Paramedics, law enforcement officials, the county coroner, and fire rescue teams may all respond to an unattended death scene, but none of them are responsible for cleaning and sanitizing the space afterward. 

Instead, these professionals typically recommend contacting a privately-owned company like SERVPRO of West Riverside for unattended death cleanup services. Teams like ours are the only professionals who understand how to use microorganisms to degrade and neutralize organic contaminants and sanitize an unattended death site. 

What is the Cost of Unattended Death Cleanup?

The costs of unattended death cleanup vary depending on the severity of the scene, your location, how long the body has been unattended, the number of technicians needed to sanitize a space, the amount of time they spend doing so, and the extent of organic matter in the area. 

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