What to Do if You Find a Dead Body

Halloween is one of the few times of year where we think more lightheartedly about death, rather than dwelling on the heartbreaking implications we typically associate with grief. Images of skeletons and undead beings are commonplace during the season, and bloody depictions of death are casually created for entertainment and a good scare (or even a laugh). However, it can also lead us to more serious, if far fetched contemplation. Putting ourselves in the shoes of a favorite horror movie hero, we may ask the frightening question: what would we do if we stumbled across a dead body?

On a serious note, outside of a hospital or funeral home, the likelihood that you will encounter a dead body is fortunately slim. However, in the event that such a thing were to happen to you, it’s a simple matter to remember what to do to handle the situation safely.  Beyond minding your own safety, notifying the authorities is paramount.  There are also steps you can take to keep from disturbing evidence in the case of a crime. If you should ever come across a corpse, here are some things to keep in mind:

Stay Safe

First of all, make sure that there’s nothing in the area that could harm you. Upon discovering a body, your first thought might not be your own safety—but remember that human life and safety is always important.  Check for any hazards in the surrounding environment, including falling items, dangerous chemicals, road traffic, wild animals, or even other people.

Call for Help

Once you’re sure the area is safe, call 911. What happens next will depend on the condition of the body. If they appear to be recently deceased, then be prepared to check their vital signs or even administer CPR. An unconscious or severely injured person can be mistaken for a corpse, but it might be possible to save their life with quick intervention. In some cases it’s even possible to revive a person who isn’t breathing or doesn’t have a heartbeat. If there is a chance the person is alive, an ambulance will be immediately dispatched; you may also be given instructions to help the victim in the meantime.

Don’t Interfere

If the deceased is clearly beyond help, you should avoid disturbing the area. Even if you have good intentions, you don’t want to accidentally expose yourself to a health hazard or interfere with any investigative proceedings. Leave the corpse alone and remain nearby until authorities arrive.

Talk With Police

When the police arrive, be prepared to cooperate with them and answer questions. The police will want to get as much information about the scene as possible to help their investigation. They may ask for your contact information or request to interview you later.

Get it Cleaned Up

If the body was in a public area, then you’ll soon be free to go and law enforcement will handle the rest. If it was on your property, however, you might be responsible for cleaning up after the body has been removed. This process can be potentially stressful and may expose you to biohazards such as bloodborne pathogens. Professional death cleanup services exist to perform this task for you.  

Recover Emotionally

After all is said and done, take some time to address your own feelings about the discovery. It’s normal to feel stressed, afraid, sad, or disturbed; in some cases, you might want to seek professional counseling to deal with these emotions. The discovery of a body can be traumatic, but there are people and resources available to help you through it. If you need help cleaning up, give Aftermath a call at 877-872-4339.