Our staff was at the West End Seniors Association Bigger Bolder Better Symposium the beginning of June. We had lots of questions about revising wills and probate but one of the top questions we received was – WHAT TO DO IF YOU FIND A BODY. I have to say my staff was stumped by this question, and we thought dial 911? Call the funeral home? Call the police? None of these answers seemed to address the concern that these seniors had about finding a friend or family member who had passed away.
In an effort to address the concerns raised, we have compiled a list of what to do when you find a body:
1. Don’t Panic. Make sure you and your friends are family members are safe. If you come across a body in a home it could be a natural death or a death by carbon monoxide poisoning. Be aware and take all necessary precautions to make sure you aren’t in harms way.
2. Check the vital signs of the person. The person may look like they are dead but they could be unconscious or sleeping. Place your hand on their head. Are they warm or cold? Look for a pulse on their wrist. Check to see if they are breathing. If possible, raise the persons eye lids and look at the person pupils. Are they the same size? Do they react to light?
3. If the person shows signs of life, or is warm to touch start resuscitation and first aid and dial 911 to reach emergency services. Do not leave the person until the emergency services have arrived.
3. In the alternative, you are sure they are dead. What now? Briefly look around are their any possible clues about what caused the death. Are you safe to stay with the body? As long as you are safe stay with the body and avoid touching, shifting or moving it around. Do not remove any possible cause of death such as ropes, medication, or dress the body. Dial 911 and wait for the emergency services to arrive.
4. Talk to the emergency service staff and explain what is going on and any medical conditions that you are aware of.
5.Do not attempt to take charge of the situation. Let the professionals do their job.
6. One the professionals have done their job, advise family and friends of the death. If the body ends up at the hospital they may visit it there.
7. If the body will not be taken to a hospital contact a funeral home to make a arrangements to pick up the body.
8. Grieve. Finding a body is stressful and very emotional. It is ok to grieve. Sometimes counselling will be required.