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With the unprecedented COVID-19 outbreak across the world, the appropriate usage of protective equipment and infection control procedures by funeral directors has significantly grown to reduce the chances of transmission. Family members attending the funeral home or cemetery are likely to be exposed to a high risk of transmission, which is why following precautionary strategies by funeral directors and staff is vital to maintain public health.

The following safety guidelines to flatten the curve of infection may include:

  • Adhering to respiratory droplet precautions when handling deceased bodies
  • For transport and storage, place and secure the body in the bag to prevent leakage
  • Avoid redundant manipulation of the body as there is a chance that air may be expelled from the lungs
  • Funeral directors handling deceased bodies are advised to use mortuary products or suitable PPE at all times
  • Hand hygiene is advised to the funeral and cemetery workers before and after contact with a dead body, coffin, or shroud
  • Clean all the infected surfaces and equipment regularly with cleaning agents to prevent contamination risk factors
  • It is advised to maintain social distancing from families of deceased

Preservation of Body Before Placing in the Coffin

Natural means of preservation involve freezing, desiccation either by dry cold or dry heat, and the nature of the soil. This is where the body is stored in refrigeration equipment such as refrigerated lockers, technical ramps, or beds.

Another means of preservation include the chemical process used in the embalming process, wherein injection of aseptic and sterilizing formaldehyde product is utilized to reduce contaminated substances. When a death occurs at home, preservation methods like dry ice, refrigerated ramp, and embalming are suggested to avoid transmission of mortal remains to a funeral home. These procedures may be recommended often, but not likely to be imposed when closing the coffin for many days.

Preparing the Body for Disposal

  • Preparing the body – Numerous changes take place in the body after death. Fluids may leak from body openings, especially if decomposition is entitled to occur. The staff applies bandages to keep the mouth and limbs in place and pack absorbent material around the openings.
  • Covering the body – Bodies should be transported in body bags. Additional precautions must be taken when a person died from an infectious hazard, such as COVID-19.
  • Storage of the body – Funeral directors usually keep the deceased in refrigerated holding facilities until the funeral ceremony.
  • Enclosing the body – All bodies buried or cremated should be in a coffin at the time of disposal.
  • Transporting and disposing of the body – Transport bags and church trucks are used for easy handling and disposal of the dead body. Further, the private vehicle is used for one-off body transport.

List of Mortuary Equipment Used in Handling of Deceased

  • Single-use disposable gloves with long-sleeved disposable gown and heavy-duty clear coveralls.
  • Adhesive-backed disposable body bags, chlorine-free bags, mid-grade transport bags, and water recovery body bags to prevent any leakage of fluids, all equipped with zipper, heat-sealed for cremation.
  • Personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks, gloves, face shields, etc. is recommended for personnel entering the patient’s room.
  • Alcohol-based hand rub to kill bacteria from hands is considered a more fast and more effective method than soap and water.
  • Embalming fluids and instruments are recommended use to prepare the dead body for cremation.
  • Cremation urns, a vessel or container is used to hold the ashes of the deceased, considered an economical and eco-friendly method to store the remains at a place.
  • Funeral church trucks allow staff to push, pull, carry and lift the body over the obstacles. 
  • Disposable face masks, with adjustable nose piece, 3-ply ear loop, and the non-woven fabric is recommended to ensure safety.

Conclusion:
It is the job of the mortician to prepare dead bodies for funerals and cremations. He does a variety of jobs, from embalming bodies to arranging open-casket funerals. Generally, dealing with dead bodies is very sensitive and requires a special skill set and cleanliness, which means professionals will need a lot of mortuary supplies during the process.

If you’re working in the death care industry, it’s your responsibility to keep your functional and service standard to the highest safety standard and regulations. And for doing so, it is necessary to strictly adhere to the above-listed precautions and have practical mortuary equipment in place at the funeral home to enable the best possible care for working personnel, deceased and their loved ones.

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