Unattended Death: What Does it Mean?

The phrase unattended death refers to a death in which the body is not found for days, weeks, or in some cases, months. Unattended deaths happen most commonly with the elderly, especially if they reside alone and do not have family or friends that check on them regularly. In rarer cases, an unattended death may occur after a suicide or homicide.

Unattended Death and Decomposition

unattended death - police tapeThe longer a person’s remains are unattended, the further along they will be in the decomposition process.

The 3 stages of decomposition are:

  1. Autolysis (self digestion): Due to a lack of oxygen and build up of waste, the cells of the body become stressed, and the intra-cellular pH level drops. This low pH level turns the body into an acidic environment, which causes the membranes to rupture and release enzymes that digest the cell from the inside out.
  2. Bloat: During this stage, numerous gases are produced as bacteria, fungi, and protozoa attack the dead tissue and liquefy it.
  3. Active decay: During the last stage of decomposition, the fat and muscles are reduced to a foul-smelling paste-like substance, and the microorganisms are joined by flies and other insects that help remove the remaining soft tissue.

Cleaning Up After an Unattended Death

A decomposing body releases bacteria and toxins that can be harmful to humans and cause significant physical damage to the home or property. In fact, a decomposed body can affect a home’s livability in as little as a few hours in some weather. Therefore, it is imperative that the scene of an unattended death be completely cleaned and sanitized.

Once an unattended death is discovered, it is usually up to the family to handle the cleanup, which can be problematic. No one should have to see a family member in one of the stages of decomposition, and the biological matter that a body leaves behind can be hazardous.

Aftermath provides unattended death cleanup services to individual families, property managers, and commercial businesses. Our proprietary BioWash process ensures that all surfaces are thoroughly cleaned, sanitized, and deodorized. Our expert technicians are available 24/7 to assist you. Contact us today.

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Sources:

http://www.aftermath.com/contact-24-7-365/
http://www.aftermath.com/crime-cleanup-services/unattended-death-cleanup/
http://iussp2009.princeton.edu/papers/93264

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