by Molly Nox

The average person fortunately does not come into contact with dead bodies on a regular basis, but a growing population increases the likelihood that you may have this experience one day, so you better be ready. The Center for Disease Prevention reported that in 2011 there were more than 2.5 million deaths nationwide. This is a lot of deaths; in fact, it’s the highest number of deaths ever recorded in a single year. Finding a dead body can be a traumatic experience, especially if the deceased is someone you know or cared about. Being prepared to react appropriately can reduce stress and help you to avoid dangerous complications. Therefore, in order to survive this uncanny experience, you need to be familiar with these three simple rules: 1) Keep safe; 2) avoid tampering with crime scene evidence; and 3) let the professionals handle the dead body clean up.


Secure Your Own Safety First

crime7Looking after your own safety is the most important thing. An unsecured crime scene is dangerous. It is likely that you could come into contact with biological hazards in these situations. Touching blood, or other elements of human remains puts you at an increased risk of infection. Blood borne pathogens such as HIV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C can linger. In the case of hepatitis B, the virus is known to survive outside the body for over seven days and can even be transmitted by dried blood. So beware! Always assume that any blood or remains you see are contaminated and avoid them like you would avoid the bubonic plague.


Refrain From Tampering With the Scene

Claims of tampering at Reeva Steenkamp death scene

Claims of tampering at Reeva Steenkamp death scene

Police and coroners need to be able to evaluate a situation as it is. After you have determined that there is a dead body, and not someone in need of medical care, do not move the body or tamper with any other objects in the area. When gathering evidence, crime scene investigators need to collect accurate raw data. Do your best to avoid upsetting anything. Fingerprints, hair, and other elements found by police may be useful in identifying those responsible. Coroners use the information at the scene to help establish the cause of death. Making changes to the area makes things harder on everyone and should be avoided whenever possible. (And besides, God forbid that you adjust things at the death scene and end up making the authorities suspicious.)


Call the Professionals

crime4Contact the police by dialing 911 to report the body. Public health and sanitation requires the immediate removal and proper containment of the deceased. The authorities today have more knowledge and better tools than ever before to safely handle these situations. In addition to limiting the spread of infectious disease and solving crimes, providing answers to grieving families is a job best left to the experts.

NIRELAND-BRITAIN-UNRESTAfter a police investigation has been completed and the body is removed by a coroner, there are usually some human remains left behind. Blood and other smaller fragments still need to be dealt with. There is a growing industry of second responders known as crime and trauma scene decontamination technicians. They have developed procedures to properly clean and remove human remains. If the body you have found is on your own property, it is necessary to have the biological waste disposed of. Let specialized decontamination technicians remove blood and other harmful biohazards so that the area is inhabitable again.

crime6And once the body has been removed and all biohazards have been eliminated, don’t hesitate to have a stiff drink, or your favorite cafe latte or whatever you do to indulge yourself. You’ve survived coming unexpectedly upon a corpse and certainly deserve a bit of indulgence prior to stumbling upon your next dead body.



mollyMolly Nox is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles, CA. When she isn’t writing, you can find Molly doing Pinterest-inspired cooking, outdoor photography, and wearing flower headbands at music festivals. 


6 Responses to What to Do if You Find a Dead Body (Besides Scream)

  1. Darcia Helle says:

    Great advice, though I hope I’ll never need it!

  2. Sam Schipman says:

    A tad bit different than the bodies that I came across in Iraq during both Desert Storm and Iraqi Freedom… We just left them where they fell…

  3. Rick says:

    Great post, Molly! Welcome to the blog. :)

  4. Jo-Anne says:

    I have often wondered how I would be if I found a dead body, I have only ever seen on in my lifetime and that was my mother in-law but I knew she was dead before I walked into the room so it was no shock or anything.

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