What to Do in an Unattended Death

Unattended death is defined as anyone who passes away without supervision. If left for a certain length of time, unattended deaths can result in a body that decomposes. Finding a loved one who has passed away is devastating, but finding a decomposing body can be even more traumatic. Depending on humidity and temperature, unattended bodies may begin to decompose in a matter of hours.

How can this happen?

Many people wonder about how unattended deaths can occur. It happens in a wide variety of instances; common scenarios include people who live alone, introverted and/or isolated people, and scenarios where family members may be traveling or out of touch for other reasons like business or personal travel. People also frequently become isolated due to depression or other health challenges. Suicide is the most common.

What should I do when I find an unattended dead body?

Decomposing bodies are more than unpleasant — they are unsanitary and dangerous to your health both physically and emotionally. The bacteria that accumulate after death facilitate decomposition, bloating, and odors, and are dangerous because they can be inhaled by anyone in the same area. The most important things to do when finding a decomposed body are:

  1. Call first responders. It’s imperative the body be taken to the coroner so cause of death may be assessed.
  2. Clear the entrances & pathways to the infected area from obstruction. Do NOT attempt to clean the body or the area near the body from blood or other natural fluids or tissues. But it can be helpful to clear a path to the room if there are objects blocking the way (which can be common in hoarding situations).
  3. Call professionals in unattended death cleanup. It’s critical to maintain the safety of the people in the area and also to minimize the damage to the surrounding structure. ArchAngels helps with cleaning the structure and also in helping you find financial assistance to pay for the cleanup. For example in many situations property insurance will cover the cost of professional cleaners. ArchAngels can help you navigate the process to submit a claim. This can be particularly needed during difficult times.

How can I prevent unattended deaths in my family from occurring?

The best way to prevent a death of a loved one from turning into an unattended death is to stay in close contact with your loved ones, especially ailing, elderly or isolated family members. Daily checkups can be helpful in certain situations (and/or phone calls). Alert systems can also be helpful for alerting family members when someone falls.