Potter’s Field and Georgia Clean: Extending Dignity in Death

Cemeteries such as Oakland Cemetery, while often a place of quiet rest and beauty, are woven with tragic stories and grief. Throughout Atlanta’s history, this has been especially true in Oakland Cemetery where a large section is dedicated to those who could not afford the last expenses death requires.

Potter’s Field in Oakland Cemetery

Potter’s Field, the 7.5 acres in the Northeast corner of Oakland Cemetery, is estimated to hold the remains of around 7,500 people under its rolling green hillside and tall trees. While the names of around 4,000 people who are buried there are known (though without an identified burial location), around 3,500 people are buried without a recorded name or identity. No less important than those buried with stone monuments in other parts of the cemetery nearby, they lay below our feet in quiet witness.

Now closed to new burials, Potter’s Field has been preserved as an anonymous burial ground for Atlanta’s poor and lower income classes, travelers, and the space where many African Americans were reinterred from a different part of the cemetery. Surrounded by a growing city around its borders, Potter’s Field is transformed from how it once looked. In the midst of buildings and parking lots, Potter’s Field is, instead of just a burial site, now a wonderful place to picnic and spend some quiet moments. With wooden grave markers long ago rotted away, what is left is a living monument to the last measure of dignity we can give to those both known and unknown underneath the soil.

Georgia Clean strives to give the same dignity in unattended death cleanup as found in Potter’s Field

At Georgia Clean, we often see the same kind of situations that over a hundred years ago would have been handled with a burial in Potter’s Field. Someone without a lot of financial resources or community support around them passes away alone in their home or unsheltered outside. Without any fanfare or family handling the estate, some people slip away with few other people knowing about their passing. While this is certainly not true of all unattended deaths, people can die alone for any number of reasons, an astonishing number pass away without support or the money to pay for their burials.

In all types of situations involving unattended deaths, our staff at Georgia Clean are deeply respectful of every person and object we come into contact with during the course of our work. We live by the value that no matter who a person was, whether they had financial or community resources, they deserve dignity as we clean up the remains left behind in all unattended deaths.

While we know we can’t disinfect every scene of an unattended death to look like the beautiful garden that Potter’s Field has become, all our unattended death cleanup staff strive to leave the place of a death in a clean and orderly condition so it can remain a peaceful place for those will occupy the space in years to come. It is our way of creating safe spaces in which the living will work and play and where their families and friends may remember the loved one who died there.

Do you need cleanup after an unattended death?

If someone has died while unattended on your property or you’re in charge of cleaning up a loved one’s home after their passing, our team at Georgia Clean are always here for you, 24-7, to make sure the property is thoroughly cleaned, and safety restored.
Never let someone untrained in biohazard cleanup handle the mess after a body has started to decompose. Being neither trained in how to protect themselves from potential diseases nor how to properly disinfect all layers of an affected structure, blood, fluids, viruses, and bacteria are likely missed, thus forming a health hazard to anyone in the area and damage to the structure. With most property insurance policies covering the cost of professional unattended death cleanup throughout Atlanta and the wider state of Georgia, you can rest easy knowing everyone is protected and the home thoroughly cleaned and disinfected no matter how deep the damage may go. Diligent and thorough, our entire team is well-trained and experienced in making sure all affected layers are dealt with and disinfected. We’ll even file the insurance claim on your behalf so the load on your shoulders is even lighter.

Georgia Clean is here to create safe spaces

While grieving a death can be horribly difficult to walk through in addition to cleaning out the belongings of the person who died, Georgia Clean is here to make sure you do it in a safe and clean space. Like in Potter’s Field, we give one of the last dignities we can extend to a person: respectful cleanup of their remains after they have passed away so others may grieve in a safe and peaceful environment.
Available any time of day or night, call us at 770-766-4562. We are here to serve you.

Cross-Contamination After an Unattended Death

As annoying as blowflies can be when they buzz around our porches and land on our skin, these small insects help our world by processing the dead bodies of both people and animals. However, in the case of an unattended death when a person passes away and no one knows about it, this same process can create great harm if the person cleaning up afterward doesn’t know about the potential for cross-contamination as flies buzz around an enclosed space. For this reason, while death by itself is deeply tragic, the tragedy can extend even further if people don’t clean the entire area where the flies have landed.

To clean a space properly after someone has died and their body has started to decompose so everyone is safe from any resulting danger, the entire area must be thoroughly cleaned and decontaminated by professional biohazard cleaners.

Blowflies Can Contaminate an Entire Home

After unattended death in a home or business, most of the visible biohazards are located around the area where the body began to decompose. Whether the death was on a bed, in a chair, or on a floor, it often includes multiple layers of infected materials underneath the body. However, shortly after death, insects, especially the common blowfly, are then attracted to the decomposing body and land in any available holes in the skin to lay their eggs before continuing their journey. The adult fly knows the decomposing liquids will feed the resulting larva and the life cycle of the blowfly continues.

Once the fly lays the eggs, they then fly to other places in the home, landing on any number of available surfaces such as doors, walls, windows, dishware, and furniture. With the blood and body decomposition fluids on their legs and body, they then spread these dangerous liquids all over other surfaces in whatever rooms they can access. This is dangerous as any number of infectious diseases, viruses, bacteria, and bloodborne pathogens can be transported this way to surfaces that seem clean to the naked eye. Someone thinking that surface is safe may then become infected with a disease without being aware of it until it’s too late. Without cleaning the entire home, all the nooks and crannies where a blowfly and other insects could have landed, dangerous diseases can still lurk unseen.

Professional Biohazard Cleaners have the Needed Tools and Experience

To clean an area after an unattended death, you need professional biohazard cleaners as quickly as possible. The longer body fluids are left to seep into the surrounding layers, the more damage is done. A professional biohazard cleaning technician will not only know where to look to make sure all the layers of material underneath and around the body are cleaned and legally disposed of, they also have the skills to evaluate how extensive or limited cross-contamination may be. Using professional equipment and powerful cleaners, they then quickly clean and decontaminate the rest of the space so any residue left by the blowflies is remediated and any bloodborne pathogens are fully removed. Never attempt to clean up after an unattended death yourself. Without specialized training, experience, and equipment, you leave yourself and others open to infection and potential harm. Professional biohazard cleaning after an unattended death is covered by most home insurance policies.

If an Unattended Death has Happened on Your Property

If an unattended death has occurred on your property, call the authorities right away and wait for them outside. Do not spend time inside the house. Not only is the smell of a decomposing body overwhelming, but you do not know what surfaces, if any, are safe to touch nor do you want any infected insects landing on you. Make sure any windows and doors previously closed stay closed to prevent any further cross-contamination. Once this is done, call professional biohazard cleaners to alert them to the situation so they can be ready to clean once the police have released the scene and the coroner has removed the body. After the cleaning technicians arrive, they will seal off the contaminated area of the home to prevent further infection before thoroughly cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting the entire area, as well as permanently removing any lingering odor.

By knowing the danger of cross-contamination after an unattended death, you can help keep people safe both now and in the future.

Have Questions?

Our technicians at Georgia Clean are always available to answer any questions you may have or to cleanup after an unattended death. We’re always available, 24-7, at 770-766-4562.

Rise in Unattended Deaths in the Atlanta Metro During COVID-19

With so many people living by themselves throughout the Atlanta area, it is a sad reality that some individuals pass away without anyone else knowing. Especially during this coronavirus pandemic, we are at even greater risk of losing family, friends, and neighbors and not knowing about it for a length of time until the body is discovered.

Most people who pass away as an “unattended death” are either found through a concerned person calling first responders for a wellness check or because of the death odor coming out of the home. Once a call is received, a landlord or first responder will knock on the door then enter the home to check on the situation. If an unattended death is found, the body is removed by a coroner and the police investigate the scene. Once the scene is officially released back to the property owner, the property must be cleaned and decontaminated after coming into contact with bodily fluids produced by the decomposition process.

During this time of COVID-19, more unattended deaths may be occurring, and the resulting damage can be extensive. Here are three circumstances contributing to why:

  1. People may be sick from the coronavirus: Though the reported numbers of positive COVID-19 cases and resulting deaths are staggeringly high, we know many additional cases are occurring with many deaths unaccounted for. People in your Atlanta neighborhood who live alone may be suffering from the coronavirus and not even now it themselves. If they live alone, they may even pass away with no one knowing about their illness.
  2. Lack of in-person visits: Under normal circumstances, we visit with our loved ones and neighbors, staying aware of how they are doing and if they are feeling unwell. Now, between the need to keep a safe social distance from each other and not exposing our loved ones, especially older adults with pre-existing health conditions, people may pass away by themselves from causes such as COVID-19, health-related issues, or suicide. Alone in their homes with no regular visitors coming to the door to check on them, it can be quite some time before someone’s body is found and people know they passed away.
  3. Heat speeds up the process: Now that we are approaching the warmer temperatures of summer here in Atlanta, Georgia, the body decomposition process quickens and more damage is done by the time the body is found. As fluids are released, they follow gravity down into whatever materials lay below the body such as furniture, flooring, and building materials. The longer the time period between death and discovery and the hotter the temperature is in the space where the body lays, the more the body will be decomposed by the time it is found.

Call and check on your loved ones and neighbors

Even though businesses are beginning to reopen here in Atlanta, COVID-19 cases are spiking to new daily highs. With so many people becoming sick and countless people staying home out of fear of catching the coronavirus, we are still at a higher risk of older individuals passing away at home without being found for weeks or even months. In this time, continue to call your loved ones and check on neighbors, especially those you know live by themselves. We all need to know there is somebody outside our four walls who cares about our well-being.

Rely on trained professionals for unattended death cleanup in Atlanta, Georgia

Never let anyone untrained in biohazard cleanup handle the cleaning after an unattended death. Even the smallest amount left behind can have long-lasting consequences and the property owner will be legally liable for all damages. Stick with the professionals who have a proven record in unattended death cleanup so you can protect yourself and others who may one day enter the property.

If you need help cleaning a property after an unattended death, Georgia Clean is always here for you with quality cleanup and decontamination. Working quickly and with powerful tools, we go the extra mile to make sure all biohazards have been removed and the area restored to safe conditions.

You can make a difference in the life of another

While we work to limit the virus and protect those we care for, remember those who may be out of sight for a time. It’s easy to focus on the daily comings and goings in our own lives and lose track of our older friends who live by themselves. Take a moment to check on them today. You may prevent a death by doing so.

What Do I Do with a Hoarder Home After an Unattended Death?

It’s difficult to lose a loved one when they die. Even more difficult is when the person died unattended in the midst of a hoard and you are the executor of the estate left to clean it up.
When a person hoards belongings, the house and property gradually becomes overwhelmed with items and/or garbage, making it difficult for people to move around the home safely. There are often small, narrow pathways through the hoarder home, if any, with items precariously balanced on either side. These small passageways make it difficult for people to get out of the house if they are having health problems and nearly impossible for first responders to get in. Combine that with the lack of sanitation and working plumbing in many hoarders’ homes and the fact that hoarders rarely, if ever have people over, and you have many hoarders who die unattended with their bodies being left undiscovered for weeks, months, even years.

When you’re the executor of the hoarder’s estate and the one left to deal with cleaning up the hoarder home along with the bio hazards left over from their unattended death, it’s hard to know where to begin.

Call the Home Insurance Company

Most home insurance companies will pay to clean up any damage from the unattended body along with any damages to the house when removing your loved one. This can include anything the body and bodily fluids touched as it decomposed as well as items in the home impacted by decomposition odor . Coverage will change depending on the insurance company so make sure you know what your coverage is and take full advantage of all services offered.

Don’t Clean It Up Yourself

When an unattended death occurs, anything the decomposing body touches is automatically labeled a biohazard and thus, medical waste. To dispose bio waste requires adherence to all state and federal regulations. Add to this the threat of blood-borne pathogens, viruses, and bacteria, let alone the emotional implications, calling a professional cleaning company trained in dealing with biohazards to at least clean out that area of the hoarded home can be vital to your health.

Tips on Cleaning Out the Hoarder Home

After the body is removed from the property, it’s up to the executor of the estate to restore the home to a safe and healthy condition. Here’s some tips to get you started:

  • Create a list of valuable and treasured mementoes: Write out a thorough list of anything you want people to look for while cleaning out the hoard (photographs, jewelry, important papers, family heirlooms). Make copies and distribute them to everyone helping you.
  • Wear protective gear: Depending on the severity and type of hoard, it’s vitally important to wear personal protective gear and a respirator to protect yourself and anyone helping. This is especially true in the case of an unattended death as the smell will have permeated the hoard.
  • Don’t sort through it all yourself: Losing a loved one is hard enough. Having to go through their hoard by yourself can take months, even years. Instead of putting your life on hold to deal with the property, hire a cleanup company with hoarding cleanout experience. They will look for your valuables, donate what they can, clean out the rest, and some even restore the property before you put it on the market. Even if you can only afford to hire a company for a part of the cleanout, speeding up the process in this way is well-worth it.
  • Exercise caution: When sorting through a hoarder’s home, you never know what hazards you’re going to find. Between animals, pests, urine, feces, rotten food, and medical paraphernalia, exercise extreme caution when moving around.
  • Sort into three piles: Starting with one room at a time, sort your loved one’s hoard into three piles: garbage, donate, and potentially keep. Place all items you may want to keep in one place to go through later. Remember, things you wanted may be unsalvageable and need to be thrown away.
  • Take breaks: Be aware of the emotional and physical implications of such a task and take breaks as needed. You can even set your phone to remind you.
    Remember as you’re dealing with your loved one’s death and taking care of cleaning out their property to take care of yourself. It can be easy to put your own life on hold as you deal with their estate but remember to step back and do the things that give you joy.

Call a Professional Biohazard and Hoarding Cleanup Company

When faced with this type of a situation, call a professional biohazard and hoarding cleanup company. A high quality company will have extensive experience in biohazard and hoarding cleanup and can provide you with the knowledge you need to move forward. A reputable company will offer give you information over the phone as well as go out to the property and provide you with a free estimate. They can help you discern what will be covered under the insurance and what may not be. Undiscovered death combined with a hoarding cleanup situation can be overwhelming. Let the professionals help.

If you have any questions about our unattended death cleanup and/or hoarding and clutter cleanup services, call us 24/7 at 770-766-4562 and we’ll be happy to help.

Unattended Death in Your Rental Property in Marietta, GA – Now What?

Coming across an unattended death in one’s Marietta rental property is not something most property owners ever expect to experience, but it’s not uncommon for someone to die and not be discovered for a number of days or weeks. Even if a body is left unattended for a short period of time, body fluids quickly start to break apart, seeping into every surface, and the stench itself can be overwhelming even after the body is removed.

Who removes the tenant’s belongings?

You will want to reach out to the emergency contact or next of kin on rental agreement and let them know that your tenant has died, if they don’t know already. The person in charge of your tenant’s estate, and often members of the family, will come in and remove the valuable items, heirlooms, and anything else that they want to keep.

How soon do you begin the undiscovered death cleanup?

Once it is established that everything that is going to be removed has been removed from the property, then you can call in a biohazard cleanup company in Marietta to remediate your rental property of all biohazards, leaving it sanitized and safe for to rent again. This could be as easy as cleaning up a mattress or as extensive as ripping out flooring and drywall. Even if there seems to be only a small stain on the carpet or wood flooring, body fluids can seep underneath and create a stain on the padding and subfloor five times as large. In such cases, the flooring has to be removed and replaced. It’s best to take care of the unattended death cleanup as quickly as possible.

Do I have to disclose the unattended death?

If directly asked about the property’s past, the landlord or landlord’s agent must disclose the unattended death in the Marietta rental house. Other questions about the property’s past should be honestly answered to the best of their knowledge as long as they do not violate any state, local or fair housing rules or regulations.

How do you handle the lease?

Rent and lease agreements can be written in many ways, but typically this is how it goes. If the tenant is on a month-to-month lease, the day of death serves as the 30 day notice and their next of kin have that long to remove their belongings. If the tenant was on a long-term lease, the estate is responsible for the cost of the lease unless you decide to terminate the lease early and rent the unit out to another tenant. Review your rental/lease agreement to see if there is a provision for this type of situation. Most landlords just want possession of the Marietta rental property, so they can get it cleaned and rented as soon as possible.

Who pays for the damages?

Most home insurance policies will cover the undiscovered death cleanup cost, less the deductible, and the estate is responsible for any damage the tenant may have caused while alive.

It is always wise to consult with an attorney and/or Georgia’s local landlord tenant laws before making any legal decisions. This post is for general informational purposes and is not intended to legal advice.

Contact Georgia Clean today

Georgia Clean is located in Marietta, and is available help you out or answer any questions you may have. Contact us by calling us at 770-766-4562 for immediate assistance 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.