Unattended Death Cleanup | What is an Unattended Death
Biohazard Cleanup

Unattended Death: Steps to Take After Discovering an Unattended Death

Finding the remains of someone who has passed away can be overwhelming, shocking, and traumatic. Unfortunately, unattended death scenes can be grisly depending on the exact circumstances of the death. Not only will you need to recover emotionally and psychologically from the experience, but also take steps to have remains removed and the area cleaned. Common biohazards associated with unattended deaths include blood, bodily fluids, and biological material. We strongly recommend that you do not attempt biohazard cleanup on your own, as there is a potential risk of spreading contaminants.

Compassionate, discreet cleanup services. Call 1-888-443-3110 for a contractor near you.

What is an Unattended Death

An unattended death involves someone who died alone and is not found immediately. The period of time may vary from days to weeks or even months in extreme cases. Elderly or ill individuals who live alone are most susceptible to passing away alone, but unattended deaths also include accidental death, suicide, overdose, and homicide.

Steps to Take After Discovering an Unattended Death

Contact The Authorities

It’s important to contact the authorities as soon as possible after finding a body. Discovering an unattended death can be traumatic, so take a moment to compose yourself. Briefly explain the situation and your relation to the deceased. Wait outside the building until the authorities arrive. They will likely have a few questions for you as well.

Arrange for the Collection of the Body

In most cases, the authorities will transfer the body to the medical examiner or coroner for an autopsy. In rare cases, they will release the body immediately. If you a direct relation to the deceased, you will need to arrange for collection of the body from either the scene or from the medical examiner or coroner. Funeral homes work with medical examiners or coroners regularly and usually make the arrangements on your behalf. Property managers and landlords should contact the deceased’s emergency contact or next of kin and allow them to make arrangements.

Notify Family and Friends

Every family has their own way of grieving for a loved one, so choose to inform family and friends when and how is best for you. They can also be a support system for you during this stressful and traumatic time.

Hire Professional Cleaners

You should never try to clean up after an unattended death on your own. Even if the scene looks visibly clean, there is always a potential health risk from bloodborne pathogens and other chronic infectious diseases. The most common health concerns are hepatitis B, hepatitis C, HIV, enteric intestinal pathogens, tuberculosis, and cholera. Additionally, blood, bodily fluids, human remains, and contaminated materials require proper disposal to prevent further contamination or infection. For this reason, you should always hire a professional biohazard cleanup company.

Seek Counseling

Everyone handles stress and trauma differently, but you may consider seeking counseling services to learn to cope after discovering an unattended death. For landlords and property manages, there is the stress of discovering the scene. Family and friends are likely to experience that as well, with an added level of emotional connection with the person. If you are unable to let go of the experience, a professional counselor can help you to move on.

Common Causes of Unattended Death


Illnesses and diseases, especially in elderly individuals who live alone, are the most common cause of unattended deaths. The individual may not know they are sick or are not receiving regular care for their medical conditions.


Accidents are among the most common causes of unattended deaths. Accidents include any sudden and unpredictable death not specifically related to the health of the individual.


Suicides are tragic. The aftermath of a suicide can be equally tragic an emotional for the person who discovers the deceased, as well as for family and friends.


Drug overdoses are unfortunately a common cause of unattended death that are on the rise. Individuals who use drugs, especially intravenous drugs, often do so alone or with other drug users.


Strictly speaking, homicides are not unattended deaths. However, if the body is not found immediately, treat and clean up the crime scene as if it were an unattended death.

The Differences Between Unattended, Unexpected, and Unintended Deaths

In some cases, people incorrectly use the phrases unexpected death and unintended death when they actually mean unattended death. The words unattended, unexpected, and unintended sound similar and are easily confused. However, all three have different meanings.

An unexpected death is when someone passes away suddenly and without warning. Unexpected deaths can also be unattended, as is the case with heart attacks, stroke, embolism, and other sudden health emergencies. An unintended death is a legal term associated with involuntary manslaughter cases.

Unattended Death and Biohazard Cleanup Services

Discovering an unattended death can be overwhelming, stressful, traumatic, and even frightening. Let our compassionate restoration professionals are sensitive to your needs and offer biohazard cleanup for unattended deaths.

As the #1 network of restoration contractors, Restoration Local will connect you with a biohazard company in your area. Our directory includes independent companies as well as many popular franchises like Bio-One, Rainbow International, Restoration 1, and more.

Choose a biohazard company near you now or call 1-888-443-3110 for immediate service from the on-call contractor in your area. Our on-call biohazard cleanup companies offer 24-hour service, immediate response, and a free estimate.

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