When your loved one dies, you’re burdened with the challenge of putting their affairs in order—funeral arrangements, probate, and preparing the deceased’s home for sale or rent. Then, of course, there’s the grief, stressful family dynamics, and the disruption of your own day-to-day life.
When your loved one dies alone and remains undiscovered for days, weeks, or even months, all those challenges and feelings become amplified.
Unattended death is the legal term for any death occurring outside a doctor’s immediate care. A person can pass away at home surrounded by everyone important to them, or alone by natural causes, accident, suicide, or homicide. Within days, or sometimes right away, unattended death triggers secondary issues that complicate the sanitation process.
Should you have the need to call us, our customer care specialists will ask you a few questions you might feel are unrelated to the issue at hand. We know—personally, and professionally—that the shock of loss can give us tunnel vision, focusing only on the death site. Our intent is to make sure you’re not left with these secondary issues associated with the discovery of a recently deceased body or one that has entered advanced stages of decomposition:
Poor Housekeeping and Sanitation Practices
When we’re sick or suffering a mental health crisis, simple household chores and personal hygiene tasks seem insurmountable. That’s often the case with the decedents after whom we clean up. Dishes stacked in filthy dishwater, spilled food and drinks, soiled laundry, gastrointestinal accidents, and illness-related bodily fluids… it’s nothing shocking as far as our experienced, skilled, and compassionate teams are concerned.
It’s also common for those left behind to try to tidy up before our arrival. It’s normal to feel embarrassed on behalf of our dead loved ones. But we assure you that we’ve seen it all before, and we certainly don’t judge a home’s condition. In fact, those tasks are in our wheelhouse, and we’re prepared to address all forms of biological waste.
Pet urine and feces, or deceased pets
When our loved ones leave companion animals behind, we’re always relieved when they survive on their own. Of course, if they’re left indoors alone they can’t help but relieve themselves. We clean up accumulated pet urine and feces, including that which has soaked through flooring before or after the time of their owner’s death.
Unfortunately, we’ve encountered death cleanup projects in which the pet has also passed away. We can remove the animal and clean up decomposition residue, and either dispose of the remains or safely package them for you should you wish to cremate or bury the pet.
Bloodborne pathogens and communicable disease
If you don’t know the deceased’s medical history, there’s the danger of contracting Hepatitis, MRSA, or other bloodborne pathogens. Some live outside a living human body for days, weeks or even months. Particularly with gunshot deaths or other violent incidents, blood may spread far beyond the actual trauma site. Without the proper sanitation protocols and respiratory protection, dried blood particles can enter your lungs and mucous membranes.
Mold, fungus, and water damage
Most accidents at home happen in the bathroom. Those who complete suicide often do so where they think blood cleanup will be easier for their loved ones. Even if faucets aren’t left on, first responders will spill water contaminated with blood, waste solids, and body fluids as they try to revive or remove the body.
Bio Recovery remediates water damage, with or without the presence of contaminants. We inspect tile grout, subflooring, drywall, and structural framing to make sure water hasn’t leaked beyond the immediate area.
Sometimes we encounter pre-existing mold and fungus damage, including mildew and dry rot. Often, we come to fix poorly-executed death cleanup, and find mold and fungus in subflooring, carpet padding, and furniture. We use non-toxic neutralizing solutions to get rid of microbial biohazards and residual stains, and when flooring material is salvageable, our shampoo machines extract as much moisture as possible from the fibers, padding, and subflooring.
Decomposition attracts the first wave of insects within 24 to 28 hours after the death. These and pests already present in the home further complicate decomposition cleaning projects.
Insect and mammal feces, rodent urine, maggots, and husks from pupating larva permeate fibers, porous surfaces, and hard-to-reach joinery between walls and flooring.
If the body is left undiscovered for a long period, spiders and other predatory insects will move in to take advantage of flies. Rodents and insects are disease vectors, and their waste (as well as carcasses should they become trapped in walls, or they succumb to poisons) leaves behind offensive odors.
What’s more, mouse and rat problems often result in significant physical property damage.
Decaying food in the refrigerator, freezer, cupboards, and on countertops sometimes cause more odors and hazards than the dead body itself. Depending on the season, climate, and length of time between the death and discovery, decomposing food can destroy appliances, cupboards, and counters. Disturbed mold irritates lungs and airways, and unpleasant odors linger long after the spoiled food is removed. Rotting food also attracts insect and rodent pests.
We handle spoiled food, salmonella, listeria, and E. coli in commercial and institutional kitchens, and our services are scalable. Not only that, we’re better equipped to clean and salvage expensive appliances, furnishings, and fixtures, saving you the cost of replacement and disposal fees.
Bad smells don’t go away on their own. Odors come from the molecules shed by decaying organic matter. Successful odor neutralization requires the same equipment and cleaning solutions we use to eradicate mold, mildew, and fungus. We use non-toxic decontaminants whenever possible, and any associated fragrances dissipate within hours.
Masking fragrances create suspicion in visitors, and homebuyers. After all, why would a home need air fresheners if there’s no need to cover up bad smells? If they know that a body was left unattended on the premises, bad smells will understandably make them extremely uncomfortable.
Accumulated debris and belongings make routine housekeeping nearly impossible. People with hoarding tendencies become overwhelmed, and either won’t as for help or can’t face the emotional discomfort of letting go. If an unattended death occurs in a hoarder’s home, we encounter most—if not all—of the complications associated with cleaning up after a death, since the property requires decluttering and staging to identify any secondary contamination.
Should you attempt to clean up a hoarder’s home, regardless of whether the job requires decomposition cleanup, you’re putting yourself at risk of all the above biohazardous contaminants.
Leave Unattended Death Cleanup to Bio Recovery
Human body fluids and tissue aren’t the only contaminants you’ll encounter when cleaning a death scene. That’s why Bio Recovery is a biohazard remediation company—we’re not just crime scene and trauma cleaning specialists. We have nearly two decades’ experience cleaning up after advanced decomposition and all its associated complications. We’re discreet and thorough, following all CDC, OSHA, and EPA recommendations and mandates.
Property and rental insurance almost always covers the cost unattended death cleanup, including secondary damage. It doesn’t cover the time and expense of cleaning up after a death, your lost wages, or the psychological trauma many grieving loved ones experience when they attempt to do it themselves.
Professional biohazard cleaning also protects property values. If you’re required by law, upon listing a home, to disclose that a death has occurred on the premises, our paperwork and satisfaction guarantee will assure potential buyers that the property is safe and sanitary.
Don’t put yourself through unnecessary stress or health risks. Call us 24/7 for guidance, and we’ll be there for you as soon as we can.