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Unattended Death Encountered: What Next?

unattended death

Perhaps you have heard of the term "an unattended death", whether it is on the news or just in passing. Regardless of how it may have occurred, however, you may have not known, or don’t know what it means. Well, by the time you are done reading this article, you will not only understand what an unattended death is, but you will also know what you will need to do in the unfortunate event that you just encountered.


What Is An Unattended Death?

The Challenges of An Unattended Death Cleanup and Disinfection

Procedures to Follow When Encountering An Unattended Death


What Is An Unattended Death?

An unattended death describes a scenario when an individual passes away and has gone for a certain period of time without being noticed. In most cases, these people live alone, and after he/she dies, no one thinks to look for them until much later. There is no set timeframe for what constitutes the death, but it can range from just a few days to weeks or even months. Now, whatever may have caused the death – whether it’s from natural causes, criminal intent, or suicide – it is never easy to handle. Apart from the grief and traumatic stress experienced by the loved ones, an unattended death does present a challenging situation when it comes to the cleanup.


The Challenges of An Unattended Death Cleanup and Disinfection

After discovering the unattended death, it is up to the family of the deceased to figure out how the cleanup is going to be carried out. It is imperative that they should contact the authorities right away, immediately after discovering it. After the authorities are done with their routine procedure, it then becomes the responsibility of the family to have the body taken care of, as well as cleaning and disinfecting the mess left behind. It isn’t that easy though, as there are a few challenges that are inevitably involved in the process. For instance:

  • No family member should have to witness the state of their loved one after an unattended death. It is outright traumatising! Due to the biological processes, the body begins to decay rapidly after a death occurs, and depending on the time period the body has gone unnoticed, it may be decomposed beyond recognition. Obviously, the longer it takes before the body is discovered, the further along in the decomposition process it will be.
  • Also, the decomposed body produces bacteria and other biological matter that might remain on some materials in the home. If this is the case, it may present serious health hazards to future occupants of that particular house.
  • So, when it comes to an unattended death, it is important to know that you are dealing with a biohazard situation, which means that you have to take appropriate steps so as to ensure that the scene is thoroughly cleaned. Plus, proper procedures should be followed in order to ensure that everything is done right.


    Procedures to Follow When Encountering An Unattended Death

    Contact the authorities – as we mentioned above, immediately you discover the unattended body, you need to call the authorities right away. You will need to report to the police regardless of what may have caused the death. It always important for a professional to determine the exact cause of death, and of course you want to do everything by the book.

    Arrange to transport the body – after the authorities are done, the body should be transported to a crematorium or mortuary. If the medical examiner rules out any foul play leading to the death and that no investigations are necessary, then the closest kin is allowed to transfer the body to his/her preferred funeral homes.

    Reach out to friends and family – if you are a third party, say, a landlord or a letting agency, you need to let the family and friends of the deceased know of his/her passing. Basically, you need to alert members of the deceased social circle. With social media platforms, you can reach these people easily.

    Refrain from a do-it-yourself cleanup – as we mentioned above, an unattended death cleanup falls under biohazard cleaning, and it is a dangerous job. With all the airborne pathogens and harmful bacteria circulating everywhere in the scene, the cleanup should be done by professionals who know what they are doing, and also who have the right equipment to properly clean. Don’t risk cleaning it yourself as you will be exposing yourself to serious illnesses.

    Call a professional biohazard cleaning service – when an individual passes while he/she is alone, the body begins to decompose within hours. Bodily fluids start to leak into the floor, beddings, and the carpets, releasing dangerous pathogens in the room. Even if the body has been left unnoticed for only a few hours, the scene and the surroundings require critical, swift, and professional biohazard cleaning. If there was violence involved in the death, there is a likelihood of blood being all over the place, and only professionals know how to clean such a scene. Not forgetting the foul odours that need to be addressed. These are just some of the reasons why you need to contact a professional biohazard cleaning company. These experienced professionals come in protective gear and expertise to deal with unattended death scenes. This expertise is quite critical in ensuring that the home is free from dangerous pathogens and is safe for habitation.

    Start the insurance process – during this difficult time, applying for insurance is among the last items on your agenda of things when addressing an unattended death. The good news is that oftentimes the biohazard cleaning team will help you file your claim with your insurance company.

    Seek counselling – there is nothing that is as traumatising as coming across a decomposing body. It can be absolutely devastating and not for the faint-hearted! Regardless of who the deceased was – a family member, friend, neighbour, or even a criminal – it can take a great toll on you, emotionally, which is why you may need to consider seeing a professional counsellor and psychologists to help you get through this difficult time.


    To sum it up, unattended death isn’t an easy experience to go through, but having an idea of what to do about the situation may lessen the impact to some extent. It is quite an unfortunate event and we sincerely hope you never go through it, but if you do, now you know what needs to be done.