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Handling dead bodies

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Re: Handling dead bodies

Postby Who is John Gall » Mon May 24, 2010 1:44 am

As to where to put the cemetery, I like the back yard. Ever read "the Last Centurion" by John Ringo? Great book. It goes in depth about back yard burials. You might want to check out local laws. In Ontario, Canada, for example, I know that one grave on a property makes the property a cemetery and there it is illegal to live in a cemetery.

No back yard? Problem. I would not go for an empty lot as my first choice. The owners of the lot might take offense and you might have to see your loved ones exhumed in anger. Set aside a corner of a local public park, if you can. Especially if others in the community agree and several individuals are buried there, if order returns to the area the authorities are less likely to try and move the remains. It would be easier and cheaper just to fence off that part of the park as a cemetery. You could even suggest a plaque be erected and the site proclaimed a monument.
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Re: Handling dead bodies

Postby itsadisaster » Mon May 24, 2010 8:34 am

Excellent data WIJG (both posts) .. thank you very much.
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Re: Handling dead bodies

Postby ReadyMom » Mon May 24, 2010 8:57 am

Agreed. This is a really hard subject to broach and there's not a whole lot of info out there for household concerns. Thank you very much for those posts, WIJG! :thumbsup: -k
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Re: Handling dead bodies

Postby Who is John Gall » Mon May 24, 2010 9:21 am

You all are welcome. Like I said before, I used to work in various fields related to the dead, I have even dug graves with a shovel. It is a difficult topic for many, and even now, working in the medical field, I see that most people are completely unprepared to deal with death even when they don't have to touch the body. I would be glad to help out any that I can.
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Re: Handling dead bodies

Postby Alaska Rose » Wed May 26, 2010 12:35 am

Thank you very much. My Mom will be 90 this year, and such a scenario could conceivably take place if something happened in Winter.
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Re: Handling dead bodies

Postby tigger2 » Wed May 26, 2010 9:21 am

To me, it would depend on where you are and what season it is. If you are north and the ground is froze solid, forget burying them. If there are a good many bodies, I think cremation will be the way to go. And even that may not be easy. If it is a 100F outside, digging a hole with a shovel will be a task. Cutting wood to cremate will be a task also.
Mass graves is one option.
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Re: Handling dead bodies

Postby upinak » Wed May 26, 2010 11:28 pm

I would like to add something concerning what Galt said and this os only for family members after TSHTF.

If there is a body that has been dead for more then a week (depending on area) and if you know the temp outside of the home or inside, please makes sure to also drape yourself in plastic if you feel the need to bury.

I don't know if John has ever seen bodies that have been cooking in a warm house, decomposing in the water for a while or just stilling there for a few weeks... but I have. It was one of the few "odd" jobs I had while going to college up here. This is only if you feel the need to absolutely do this. But my recommendation is if they are dead and have been for a few weeks... leave them. Skin Slip (where the skin comes off in your hand by just touching it) the body bloat and the gases can make you seriously sick if you possibly have an accident and have body fluid land on you and not able to clean right away or the gases could explode the body.... which would be very bad.

How do you know if you walk in to a house with dead people? If any of you ever have smelled decaying animals.... that is close. But humans are worse. Most that are found will be in houses. If you smell decomposing fish and fruity like smell.... it is more then likely human remains. Most dead people that I have had to "pick up" were dead over two weeks and the smell never seems to change. You will always remember that smell.

I guess I am telling you this as I would rather not have you all go through the problems associated with it. I understand you want to bury your loved ones.... but in these cases it is better to leave them there in peace.
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Re: Handling dead bodies

Postby upinak » Wed May 26, 2010 11:45 pm

I guess I should also mention if you do decide to bury your family member how to do it properly.

Make sure to drape yourself in plastic. Using a rain slicker is a good idea. Where a mask.... ANY MASK. The smell can make you vomit uncontrolablly. You will need a blue tarp, heavy duty rubber glove (kitchen gloves work fine) a sharp knife or box cutter to cut away carpet or linolium. And you may also need a saw or some type of instrument to cut away the flooring if it gets bad.

Now check the body. Do you notice it very bloated? Or is it kind of sunken in? If bloated it will be very heavy as most bodies begin the decomp, it tends to bloat and retain the fluid. DO NOT TOUCH BODY... imagine the body like a very delicate blister that if you touch it the wrong way it will pop. If the body looks sunken in, that is usually an indication that the fluid has left or it is mummifying. Check the area around to see if there is fluid on the floor.

First thing is to cut a foot around the body where it is not wet, and only the carpet or flooring that can be cut. If wet, that is the body fluid leaving the body and it may make the subflooring bad... be careful you do not want to fall through the floor. If you can not cut around because the area is saturated... it is time to leave. You will become sick if you stay too long.

Second thing is to find a stretcher to put carpet and all on and take out of dwelling. Don't seperate it... it isn't worth getting body fluid on yourself. Make sure to have someone help you lift and try to get the tarp around the body as fast as you can. This will help if you stumble and the body cavity explodes. Trust me... this is the WORST thing that can happen to you.

Third, take the body outside as fast and carefully as possible and bury it. Becareful throwing dirt on it as it will explode and make sure to bury with the tarp still wrapped around it to protect yourself.

I did this for a year before I couldn't take it any longer. Doing something like this even for a family memeber is not for the weak of stomach or heart.

I hope this helps anyone wondering.
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Re: Handling dead bodies

Postby Alaska Rose » Thu May 27, 2010 12:39 am

Thank you. I have worked with animals long dead, but not humans. So I do know about the skin slip and exploding remains. In warm weather, the bugs will be horrendous.
In very cold weather, if you truly want to bury, build a fire over the frozen ground where you wish to dig. Keep piling on wood to keep it burning at least several hours. Then remove the thawed soil and repeat with the fire. This is the method used up here for over a hundred years, both for burials and to dig tunnels for drift mining. It was not unusual for the miners to dig a tunnel down 50 to 70 feet to reach bedrock in winter in this manner, so depth is only determined by the amount of effort you are willing to put into it and the materials available.
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Re: Handling dead bodies

Postby Who is John Gall » Thu May 27, 2010 1:22 am

Good postings, Upinak. Yes, I have had to handle them several days to weeks dead before...and I have to say that I like your idea of cutting away the carpeting. Never did that...usually had to preserve the scene and such. But, it does seem like it would make transport easier and cut down on possible exposure to body fluids.

Ok, sorry, I am not trying to make light of anything, but I could not help but share this, a website about an exploding whale: http://www.angelfire.com/cantina/whale/ I saw this on the news a few years ago, when it happened. Apparently a whale beached itself in Taiwan and it was being transported through the streets, after it died, for autopsy at a university. A bunch of men were out, gawking at the whale's stuff (it was a boy whale) when it exploded and covered them with...stuff. I have never actually seen human remains explode, most of what I saw was buried or left out on the ground and different factors dealt with that problem, but in a well sealed house that could become an issue.

Tigger, I would really recommend against attempting cremation. Like I said before, trying to burn someone is very difficult. Ever see a car fire? The average car has something like 200 pounds of flammable plastics on the interior, plus 5 tires and probably 5 or more gallons in the tank. I have been to car fires that were so hot you could roast marshmellows from 50 yards away. Even after all that, even if the fire is allowed to burn for sometime, there is often still a substantial amount of whoever was inside left behind...larger bones are left intact if the car completely burns, much more if the fire is put out within 10-20 min. I worked one case where a killer actually tried to burn someone in a firepit after dousing him with gasoline: the body was a little charred but that was pretty much all. If you try to dispose of a number of remains at once via cremation I really think that you will expend a great deal of energy and resources (time, muscle/sweat, gasoline/diesel, etc) to create a psychological nightmare. If after all of that expenditure you find the bodies to still be there, just blackened, and you have to go through the whole ordeal (or more) of trying to dispose of them again...

If anyone is interested in a very good, very readable book on the topic of death and the disposal of remains, might I recommend "Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers", by Mary Roach.
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Re: Handling dead bodies

Postby itsadisaster » Thu May 27, 2010 8:17 am

Excellent data - thank you upinak, Rose and WIJG. I know from trying to dig holes here in the desert there's TONS of caliche (kuh-lee-chee) .. like layers of concrete. It might be less than an inch/cm under topsoil or several feet/m underground .. and a layer can be a few inches thick or up to several feet in places ... plus there may be several layers of the crap. We have to use a caliche pole (heavy long steel bar with a chiseled end and a pointed end) to bust thru and reach soil for plants. Very long, arduous task. A pick ax would also be helpful .. so store various tools.
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Re: Handling dead bodies

Postby IceFire » Thu May 27, 2010 12:08 pm

itsadisaster wrote:Excellent data - thank you upinak, Rose and WIJG. I know from trying to dig holes here in the desert there's TONS of caliche (kuh-lee-chee) .. like layers of concrete. It might be less than an inch/cm under topsoil or several feet/m underground .. and a layer can be a few inches thick or up to several feet in places ... plus there may be several layers of the crap. We have to use a caliche pole (heavy long steel bar with a chiseled end and a pointed end) to bust thru and reach soil for plants. Very long, arduous task. A pick ax would also be helpful .. so store various tools.


Ugh, I remember caliche from our days down in Texas. The main reason NOBODY in our area had basements (except for a few BIG businesses with "tornado shelters" built in) becasue you needed either dynamite or some SERIOUS jackhammer work to get through the stuff. They used it for building roads with out in the back country. When it was dry out, caliche roads worked fine. Only problem was, when it rained, those caliche roads got slicker than hog snot.
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Re: Handling dead bodies

Postby upinak » Thu May 27, 2010 9:00 pm

John, Ak Rose, et al,

Let me tell you a short story about my third pick up. Which is sad actually.

I got a call from the Troopers that they had a body. The man (I will call him fondly Stinky) had been dead for over 3 weeks at least due to a possible heart attack due to the positioning of the body next to the leather couch and how the arm was under the head. He was extremely large, and this was before he bloated due to the decomp of the overly warm house. I would say he weighed about 550 with all the fluid. He had severe skin slip and trying to move his arm I got the full effect of it and made the Trooper watching over us and the body throw up. After the skin slipped.... the body began a slow leak and started smelling worse. The guy who was with me was my size. I am not a large person and at that time I weighed 110 soaking wet. I am not sure how he and I got "Stinky" on the gurney (sp) other then I am glad we cut the carpet and wrapped him in a tarp. When people are very decomped.. you can't use a body bag as they usually won't fit in them.

We got "Stinky" in the suburban as also most decomp's do not fit in normal trucks and this was a special made for Big and Tall people. When they are that decomped, we usually take them to the crematory unless there is a real need for a autopsy. Since there was none for this man, we drove to the on-call crematory. Unfortunatly we hit a bump on the Knik Bridge (which I know AK Rose could tell you can be bad) and the man exploded as we also hit black ice and did a 360. Stinky was all over us, the inside of the truck and was leaking all over. It was HORRIBLE.

When I say if you do not HAVE to move your family memebers... I mean it.
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Re: Handling dead bodies

Postby IceFire » Thu May 27, 2010 9:06 pm

Eeeewwww!!! And I thought doing the "dead dog run" to the "animal meal factory" in summer when I worked at the vet clinic was bad! That is WAY worse, because although I'm sure the smell was pretty comparable, at least I didn't end up WEARING it! :shock:
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Re: Handling dead bodies

Postby upinak » Thu May 27, 2010 9:09 pm

Sorry... I wanted to get a graphic out there. that was the wort but I was ALWAYS careful after the fact. I couldn't get "Stinky" off me for two weeks. My ex-husband made me sleep in a different room. :(
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