The death of a loved one can be a challenging experience. When a person dies for one reason or another in your home, the aftermath of the passing can be particularly difficult. In such a situation, you not only experience grief but also face the prospects of health and safety hazards when a person dies in your residence. There is a number of important considerations that you must bear in mind when it comes to health and safety hazards and issues that can arise after a person has died in your home.

Categories of Deaths in a Residential Setting

In order to provide a comprehensive, comprehensible discussion of potential health and safety risks and hazards that can arise when a person passes on in your home, these deaths are placed into three categories:

  • Traumatic death
  • Unattended death
  • Nontraumatic Death

For the purposes of this discussion, a traumatic death is one in which the remains of the deceased person have been damaged to the point that blood, bodily fluids, and other biological matter contaminate the death scene. Examples of traumatic deaths include:

  • Suicide
  • Homicide
  • Accident
  • Drug overdose

An unattended death is one in which a person dies without an appropriate person on hand when the individual expires and the remains are not discovered for what can be a more extended period of time. An unattended death may not be discovered for days, weeks, or even months. The underlying causes of an unattended death include those noted amount ago and associated with a traumatic death. Added to the list of underlying causes of an unattended death are:

  • Disease
  • Sudden health event (stroke, heart attack)

Finally, a nontraumatic death is one in which there exists no blood, bodily fluids, or other biological matter contaminating the scene. In addition, the death either occurred with at least one other person on hand or the remains were discovered directly after the individual passed on. Examples of what is classified here as nontraumatic death include “old age,” certain diseases, and similar events that result in death but do not cause contamination of the scene with blood and bodily fluids.

Health and Safety Hazards After a Traumatic Death

The health and safety hazards that potentially can exist following what we’ve defined as a traumatic death in your home can be significant. In the aftermath of this type of death, the scene will be contaminated with blood and other bodily fluids. Blood and other bodily fluids can contain pathogens that have the potential for causing serious disease. Diseases that can be contracted through contact with blood include:

  • HIV
  • MRSA
  • Hepatitis B
  • Hepatitis C

If you are going to personally be involved in the cleanup of this type of death scene, you need to ensure that you acquire and wear appropriate personal protective equipment designed for making contact with biohazardous materials. The equipment needs to include;

  • HEPA mask of respirator
  • Gloves
  • Uniform or smock
  • Protective eyewear

Health and Safety Hazards After an Unattended Death

A truly alarming scene is that involving an unattended death. Because the decomposition process will be well underway in such a situation, the scene of the death will be contaminated with dangerous pathogens. These can be found in the various fluids that will be found at the scene. In addition, it is also possible for some of these pathogens to have become airborne.

In addition to the presence of disease-causing pathogens, the stench associated with an unattended death scene fairly can be called overwhelming, if not incomprehensible. Part of the overall process of cleaning up (or remediating) this type of death scene is the eradication and elimination of the odors associated with it.

Health and Safety Hazards After a Non-Traumatic Death

The health and safety hazards associated with what we’ve classified here as a non-traumatic death potentially are less. This is the case because, in a nontraumatic situation, in which the remains were promptly discovered, there will not have been a release or discharge of blood or other bodily fluids to any significant degree. Having said that, when death occurs, it is possible for the bladder or bowels to discharge, which can result in the presence of some potentially hazardous biomatter.

You also need to bear in mind that even if death is non-traumatic, it could have occurred as a result of some sort of infectious disease. As a consequence, care must be taken to protect against contamination by some sort of infectious virus or bacteria that might be present at the scene of even a non-traumatic death. (This is the reason why professionals called upon to remove the remains from a death scene always wear protective gear.)

By being educated about the potential health and safety hazards associated with any kind of death at your home, you are in the best possible position to protect yourself and others. You avoid aggravating an already challenging situation by preventing the spread of disease.


Emily Kil

Co-Owner of Eco Bear Biohazard Cleaning Company

Together with her husband, Emily Kil is co-owner of Eco Bear, a leading biohazard remediation company in Southern California. An experienced entrepreneur, Emily assisted in founding Eco Bear as a means of combining her business experience with her desire to provide assistance to people facing challenging circumstances. Emily regularly writes about her first-hand experiences providing services like biohazard cleanup, suicide cleanup, crime scene cleanup, unattended death cleanup, and other types of difficult remediations in homes and businesses.