Dead Bodies and Body Bags


Oh Yuck. What Do We Do About All the Dead Bodies?

FEMA approved body bag, heavy-duty (up to 250 lbs.)

Reality check: People die in major disasters. Sometimes the body count is exponential.

Most of us never have to really deal with cadavers. The medics and morticians are never too far away, even in terrible accidents that involve several deceased citizens. But in a major disaster these people will be overwhelmed and their ability to get into some communities may well be impaired for many days, even a week or more.

That means that deceased people (those who aren’t still buried under tons of rubble) and animals will be scattered about where they fell.

If these bodies are not properly cared for, the decaying tissue will present a health hazard for the living as well as a psychological challenge. Oh yes, let’s not forget the odor of decaying flesh. It gets steadily worse until the source is removed.

Do you know anyone in your neighborhood that has a supply of body bags? How about disinfectant solution . . . by the gallons?

Deal with it.

Even well-staffed CERT groups often neglect this issue. Why? Because it’s a very negative situation to imagine or to dwell upon and, in reality, few people know how to deal with it.

But it is a reality that is part of preparing for a major disaster. Ignoring it will not make it go away any more than procrastinating about building a family, community or business plan will negate the need for one.

Here’s what our neighborhood group has done in this regard.

We have a number of CERT graduates and a whole team of pretty sensible folks. So we knew dealing with dead neighbors might become an issue.

We purchased a dozen body bags of various sizes, and at one of our training sessions we opened one up to test it. Our smallest female member climbed up on the table and crawled inside. We zipped her in and then tried lifting the bag. Surprise! Even 6 able-bodied group members had some trouble handling the weight!  (Mostly because the bag is soft-sided, not like a door or a box or a stretcher where there’s something to grab hold of.)

Yes, there were expressions of distaste as the training started. Lots of nervous laughter. But everything settled down quickly when it came to really handling the bag.

My recommendation for YOUR group? Don’t overlook this important preparation for a disaster.


Joe Krueger
Your Emergency Plan Guide Team



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