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How Long to Stay out of Your Home After Crime Scene Cleanup

Posted January 21, 2023 by Mike Lewis under Tips

How Long to Stay out of Your Home After Crime Scene Cleanup

After a crime has occurred in your home, professional crime scene cleanup is essential to restore safety and peace of mind. However, a thorough cleaning does not mean you can move back in right away. Proper protocols must be followed to avoid health risks from contamination.

Why Stay Out After Crime Scene Cleanup?

Even after a deep cleaning by professionals, residual contaminants may linger. Rushing back into the home risks re-exposure to dangerous substances. Some key reasons to stay out after crime scene cleanup include:

Bloodborne Pathogens

Dried blood and other bodily fluids can contain viruses like HIV and hepatitis B/C. Even bleach cannot fully neutralize these risks. The CDC recommends waiting at least 5 days after cleaning before re-entry. This allows time for any lingering pathogens to become inactive.

Chemical Residues

Crime scenes may involve hazardous materials like fuel, acids, mercury, or methamphetamine. Vapors from these chemicals can permeate soft furnishings and sink into porous surfaces. Attempting to clean them yourself risks spreading contaminants. Professional remediation is required, followed by a period of ventilation.

Trauma Triggers

The aftermath of a violent crime can be psychologically damaging. Returning too soon after crime scene cleanup may trigger immense trauma and anxiety. Allow yourself time to process what happened and grieve. Rushing back can impede emotional recovery.

Repeat Cleaning

Initial crime scene cleanup cannot fully eliminate all risks on the first attempt. Spaces require repeat cleanings and testing to verify safety. Expect at least 2-3 professional cleanings over a period of 1-2 weeks for proper decontamination. This ensures toxins are not stirred up again upon re-entry.

Guidelines for Safe Re-Occupancy

To determine how long to stay out of your home, consult with your crime scene cleanup company. However, some general timelines to follow include:

Homicides/Suicides

  • Stay out 5-7 days after initial cleaning.
  • Ventilate the property with fans/air scrubbers.
  • Conduct 2nd cleaning 5 days later to treat any remaining blood splatter and bodily fluid residue.
  • Testing for bloodborne pathogens should follow before allowing re-entry.
  • Expect to be displaced for 2+ weeks.

Drug Lab Explosions

  • Plan to be out of the home for 4-6 weeks.
  • Soft furnishings, drywall, and insulation will require demolition and replacement due to chemical absorption.
  • At least 3-4 professional cleanings are typical to remove all hazardous chemical residues.
  • Final clearance testing is critical to verify air quality safety before moving back in.

Deaths Undiscovered For Days

  • Stay out for 7-10 days following cleanup due to higher contamination risks.
  • Odors may persist even after multiple cleanings. Ozone treatments help neutralize odor.
  • Cleanup crews should wear hazmat suits when handling areas with significant decomposition.
  • Expect to wait 2-3 weeks for full decontamination.

Is It Safe to Retrieve Belongings?

You will need to remove personal belongings for cleaning or disposal. However, limit time spent gathering items. Wear proper PPE and avoid porous materials until thorough remediation occurs. It’s also advisable to pack belongings outside, not in the house, to prevent cross-contamination.

Seek Professional Guidance

While these general timeframes provide a helpful starting point, follow the recommendations of your crime scene cleanup crew. Factors like the type of crime, extent of contamination, and materials affected all influence timelines. An experienced company will monitor progress and perform testing to clear the property for safe re-entry.

Crime scene cleanup allows you to reclaim your home. But patience is key after a traumatic event. Attempting to rush back in prematurely can jeopardize health and healing. By following guidelines with help from professionals, you can ensure your home is fully decontaminated before moving back in.

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