Handling dead bodies
@ AmericanPreppersNetworkHandling dead bodieshttp://americanpreppersnetwork.net/view ... 425#p24151
Often First Responders cannot reach a disaster site for hours, days or weeks so citizens should be prepared to deal with death or the handling of dead bodies.Death in a shelter during a nuclear / radiological event
â€“ If a person (or pet) dies while in a shelter, cover body with a sheet or put it in a bag (or tape several large plastic bags together) and move it outside the shelter. Donâ€™t try to bury it if high levels of radiation are still in the area, but do poke several pinholes in bag so gases wonâ€™t build up. (Make sure to decontaminate yourself before reentering shelter.)If in a Disaster Situation with Casualties and No Help
- Dead bodies do not
cause epidemics after a natural disaster. In fact, itâ€™s survivors who will most likely spread disease.
- Donâ€™t put yourself in danger to recover a body if there is any chemical, biological or radiological contamination in the area or structural damage due to an earthquake, etc.
- People handling bodies should wear gloves and boots and avoid wiping their face or mouth with their hands. (Facemasks are not needed but may be helpful to some handlers.)
- Wash hands with soap and clean water often, and disinfect tools, clothing, equipment and vehicles used to move the bodies.
- Bodies often leak feces after death so avoid contact with it (and body fluids) to limit exposure to any possible diseases.
- If no First Responders are on scene (and it may be a while before any are), write down any known details about where and when a body was found, name (if known), personal belongings on or with the body, take a photo (if possible) to help with identification later, etc.
- Graves should be between 5 ft (1.5m) and 9 ft (3m) deep.
- Burial sites should be at least 218 yards (200m) away from water sources such as streams, lakes, springs, waterfalls, beaches, and the shoreline. (If 4 or less bodies: 650 ft (200m) from water â€¦ if 5 to 60 bodies: 820 ft (250m) from drinking water well)
- The Department of Health and Human Services for North Carolina suggests pets and wild animals be buried in holes at least 3 feet (1m) deep where there is no possibility of contaminating surface or ground water. Livestock animals should be disposed of by incineration. Some FAQs per PANO:Do dead bodies cause epidemics?
Dead bodies from natural disasters do not
cause epidemics. This is because victims of natural disasters die from trauma, drowning or fire. They do not have epidemic causing diseases such as cholera, typhoid, malaria, or plague when they die.What are the health risks for the public?
There is a small risk of diarrhea from drinking water contaminated by fecal material from dead bodies. Routine disinfection of drinking water is sufficient to prevent water-borne illness.Is spraying bodies with disinfectant or lime powder useful?
No, it has no effect. It does not hasten decomposition or provide any protection.Local officials and journalists say there is a risk of disease from dead bodies. Are they correct?
No. The risk from dead bodies after natural disasters is misunderstood by many professionals and the media. Even local or international health workers are often misinformed and contribute to the spread of rumors.Resources: City of Surprise Crisis Response Team and Management of Dead Bodies in Disaster Situations by The Pan American Health Organization
(Who is John Gall
Good topic. Among many other things I used to work in a morgue and in bioarchaeology. It was nice, the customers never complained and the conversations...
True, in most cases dead bodies are not a common source of infection during pandemics. However, they can still be a source of infection. Many microbes will remain infectious in dead hosts. A classic example is hepatitis B, which is so hardy that it can live and remain infectious on a dry surface for up to 2 weeks. Tuberculosis can remain infectious for at least 75 years and can reinfect from disturbed graves. Smallpox may remain infectious for decades or centuries, there are reports that the Soviets recovered small pox virus from graves to use as seed in their bioweapons programs. No one knows for sure how long anthrax will remain infectious in dead bodies, but it seems that the anthrax bacteria have evolved to include the dead of the host into their life cycle. The host, say a cow, drops dead in a field with it's body loaded with bacteria. Once the body cools, the bacteria form spores and end up on the ground as the cow decomposes. The grass in that area will be nice and green for the next cow to eat later... Ebola and Kuru have both been transmitted through mortuary practices and rituals.
I am not trying to contradict what Itsadisaster wrote above. It is most likely that living humans (or other animals) would be the primary vectors in an outbreak, not the dead. During a disaster bodies are as likely to spread disease as raw meat left exposed to rot (sorry for the analogy, not trying to be insensitive, just honest). Nevertheless, common sense and universal precautions should be exercised when handling the dead. Wear gloves and wash your hands and arms afterward. Avoid all contact with body fluids and clean them up with a dilute bleach solution afterward. If you know or suspect the person died of an infectious disease, be extra careful.
Body bags are not really needed. If you are able to bury a body soon (within 12-24 hours after death) then just a sheet alone may suffice. If it takes longer than that then a body bag or plastic sheeting would be a very good idea. Heavy plastic sheeting is probably as good as a body bag for holding the body, but a good body bag will have handles that make them easier to handle (moving bodies is difficult). Even if your beliefs hold that the remains should be interned as soon as possible, you should plan for the worst case scenario, like staying in a shelter for a prolonged period like Itsadisaster mentioned. In many northern areas it is common for bodies to be held during the winter for spring burial: the ground is too frozen for graves to be dug. In such a case you may have to plan on storing the bodies outside and have some sort of protection from scavengers available (a temporary cider block tomb?)
Word of warning about body bags, if you do decide to buy some don't buy cheap. The hospital where I work at now does and the "economy" white body bags that they have are dry rotted just from sitting on the supply room shelf. They look good in the package, but as soon as you unfold them they crumble. Literally. The only thing that we use them from is the toe tag. I used to use the heavy black vinyl body bags, and they are great--but expensive. $75-$150+ each.
In the military we used the standard issue green nylon body bags with 6 handles sewn in and these were wonderful. I got ahold of a bunch and kept them stored on our ambulances for disaster response. They can be used as a ground sheet to lay the casualty on for treatment (more comfortable than the ground and less likely to burn than a hot roadway). They make great soft stretchers. And, if it comes to it, you can use them as a body bag. They are made of nylon, they leak. So, they come issued with a cheap plastic bag that you use as a liner. I just looked on eBay, search "military body bag" and they have them for $30-40 each. They are pretty well constructed, so you could use them to hold lots of gear (winter clothes?). If they don't have the plastic liners, plastic sheeting like itsadisaster mentioned works great.
There will be fluids leaking from a body, and even with the plastic it could be a problem. A lot of commercial body bags come with absorbent pads, like Chux pads or the "blue pads" used in hospitals. You can buy these from a pet store--they sell them as "puppy training pads." These soak up the fluids and all but lock them in, like a diaper. They are placed on the bottom of the bag (or plastic liner) directly under the body. For some reason commercial bags usually only have one smallish pad, to be placed under the body's mid-section/buttocks. I would recommend at least one more to be placed under the head, preferably just line completely line the bottom of the bag with them.
Like Itsadisaster said, identification is important. You will want to make sure that you can identify where the body is buried and who the body is. If there is a less than TEOTWAWKI situation, or if there is a return of order, authorities may well be coming around to ask questions. The military uses dog tags to help facilitate identification: two are issued, one to remain on the body and the other to be turned into graves registration. A similar system could be used if you had some made for your family...if worse came to worse one could remain on the deceased and the other affixed to a grave marker. Leather wallets usually last for years when buried, especially if encased in plastic, and they can protect their contents well, even against fire.
I have seen many burned bodies and I would not recommend that anyone even consider a backyard cremation. People do not burn well. You have to get the fire hot and burn them for a long time and in the end you will still have a lot, if not all, of them left. When someone is cremated in a professional crematorium they make whatever is left fit into the urn. Think about it. Also, you may latter find yourself having to explain to the authorities why you decided to "burn the evidence." Even if you are faced with the disposal of many bodies a trench grave would be much better than cremation and would represent a much better use of resources such as petroleum products.