MA, Body Disposal, etc.

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MA, Body Disposal, etc.

Post by DrJack » Fri Mar 29, 2013 9:59 am

So when there is no longer a morgue, (and assuming they're not reanimated) what are the best methods for disposing of human remains on a catastrophic scale?

Mass Graves are plausible to me if you have heavy machinery to do the digging, and incineration shouldn't be too hard.

Is there anywhere that recommends safe distances from water sources, habitations, etc?

What precautions need to be taken when handling remains that died from infectious disease? Other causes?
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Re: MA, Body Disposal, etc.

Post by IANMCDEVITT » Fri Mar 29, 2013 10:10 am

Burn them. Seen it done. Burn them. Infectious diseases from pestilence? Man, look up the continent of Africa, they are finding shit here there ain't any name for. They are finding shit even God wants to be kept hidden.

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Re: MA, Body Disposal, etc.

Post by TacAir » Fri Mar 29, 2013 10:23 am

I hope I'm never the gravedigger in a Spanish Flu level mass causality situation. That is a good question -

The Cremation Association of North America issued a White Paper that covers the issues related to mass casualty situations. It is an interesting read, well thought out monograph.

The NIH have this guide.

The Would Health Organization weighs in

And the WHO on cemeteries

I've not posted any military manuals (there are several) as they have specialists and specialist unit for just this thing. Most States have very strict regulations on human burial, so a check on those rules now, along with with local Public Health regulations may give an idea of how professionals perform the task.

I've read a couple of books on the effects of the Spanish Flu, written by survivors, and was struck by just how horrible the times were...

I'm interested in reading what others post.
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Re: MA, Body Disposal, etc.

Post by IANMCDEVITT » Fri Mar 29, 2013 12:12 pm

TacAir, you'd probably like this book I just read, its called "spillover".

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Re: MA, Body Disposal, etc.

Post by TacAir » Fri Mar 29, 2013 1:14 pm

IANMCDEVITT wrote:TacAir, you'd probably like this book I just read, its called "spillover".
Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic - this one?

I read "The Hot Zone" non fiction and scary as hell. Somethimes real life is a lot worse than fiction. I'll check it out, thanks!
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Re: MA, Body Disposal, etc.

Post by IANMCDEVITT » Fri Mar 29, 2013 1:23 pm

That's it!

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Re: MA, Body Disposal, etc.

Post by cauldron » Sat Mar 30, 2013 11:10 am

Derailing a bit more...

"Demon in the Box" is the scariest book I've read, and things have gotten worst since it came out.

It's about smallpox.

A few bodies, and I'd leave them topside away from water and let the coyotes have at them. Mass amounts of bodies? Burning them if the fuel is available sounds best.
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Re: MA, Body Disposal, etc.

Post by SRO1911 » Sat Mar 30, 2013 12:44 pm

One thing about burning bodies - from personal experience (bovine, not human) - living things are mostly water, so you are having to dry as you burn - this means lots of fuel.
The old images of the medieval funeral pyres - looking like a couple cords of wood under one body? They did it that way for a reason.
Having talked about this with BIL who spent 20+ years with various fire depts. - even in a total loss house fire, people are still more meat than ash.

Side note - Bovine anthrax is scary shit. Perfectly normal to DRT in a few hours.

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Re: MA, Body Disposal, etc.

Post by IANMCDEVITT » Sat Mar 30, 2013 12:56 pm

It does take a continued accelerant to maintain the sustained heat. Your right dude. Ive seen it done with kerosene, gas, and even some drunk heavily armed clowns tried with diesel. But there has been something left. I just hoped that whatever was pathogenic didn't 't survive......maybe burning then quicklime? Then covered in a pit?

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Re: MA, Body Disposal, etc.

Post by Kutter_0311 » Sat Mar 30, 2013 1:07 pm

Building a pyre puts the body at the hottest part of the flame, so it dries out end burns quickly. Not sure how many bodies you could do at once. Still might beat digging a large hole with a little e-tool.
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Re: MA, Body Disposal, etc.

Post by SRO1911 » Sat Mar 30, 2013 1:09 pm

We were sober, and may or may not have been armed, and used diesel.
and wooden pallets, lots and lots of pallets,

In a 210bbl tank, cut roughly in half. Put a few feet of piled pallets in bottom of tank, ad 20-30 gallons of diesel. Add corpses. Toss in road flare. Add more pallets throughout remainder of day and well into night.

stand upwind
when wind shits and carries smoke to fuel pile, draw straws on who gets forklift duty.
cry over short straw

Next afternoon, stir results - identify juicy parts, repeat above.
Once it seems like the job is done call CDC rep and get verified.

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Re: MA, Body Disposal, etc.

Post by DannusMaximus » Sat Mar 30, 2013 7:23 pm

SRO1911 wrote:One thing about burning bodies - from personal experience (bovine, not human) - living things are mostly water, so you are having to dry as you burn - this means lots of fuel.
The old images of the medieval funeral pyres - looking like a couple cords of wood under one body? They did it that way for a reason.
Having talked about this with BIL who spent 20+ years with various fire depts. - even in a total loss house fire, people are still more meat than ash.

Side note - Bovine anthrax is scary shit. Perfectly normal to DRT in a few hours.
The part in bold is accurate.

I think, though, that the meat will have been cooked to the point that most or all pathogens are destroyed. Tissue will slough off a fully torched human like roast falls off the bone when it's been slow-cooked all day. According to foodsafety.gov heating most meats to 165 F makes them safe to eat. I would think that means you wouldn't have to reduce a person to ash to make them non-infections. You would need to burn them up completely to not have to bury the remains, though, because even a 'cooked' corpse left in the open will be a breeding ground for nasties in short order.

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Re: MA, Body Disposal, etc.

Post by Boondock » Sat Mar 30, 2013 7:35 pm

SRO1911 wrote:One thing about burning bodies - from personal experience (bovine, not human) - living things are mostly water, so you are having to dry as you burn - this means lots of fuel.
Yup. If I remember correct, it took a long, long time, and a lot of diesel and aviation fuel, to burn a cow down to nothing. Stinky, too.

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Re: MA, Body Disposal, etc.

Post by fred.greek » Sat Mar 30, 2013 9:01 pm

I don’t mind asking stupid questions… For disease purposes, does the body really need to burn to ash, or is it enough that it has reached… cooking temperatures in the body core to kill the disease? Regarding individual bodies, what about the concept of a solar oven? Insulated box big enough to hold a body, piece of glass say like a sliding glass door… Just tossing it out…

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Re: MA, Body Disposal, etc.

Post by AZMedic » Sat Mar 30, 2013 10:47 pm

A lot of solar ovens to reach high temps must be sealed ie moisture remains in em
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Re: MA, Body Disposal, etc.

Post by Gothboy » Sun Mar 31, 2013 12:25 am

Why waste all that fuel? Diesel, oil, gas, etc. if you set things up right, the body is the only fuel you need. Engineer correct airflow and once you accelerate to correct temperature the fire itself will take over allowing no extra fuel required. I suppose it would work the same in a mass situation as well, common sense would dictate anyway.

Yes the body is mostly liquid, but it boils right away during the process. The added fuel only makes things burn quicker, like in a crematory. Not that I'm an expert or anything, but I know about crematories. I run one with three chambers in it. Cremation chambers have been around forever. Improving and improving as they go. General Custer is the first recorded cremation in a chamber from what I've found.

The wood in a funeral pyre was to accelerate the body to proper temperature with no better technology at the time, and it was stacked in a way so it would direct proper airflow to allow the body to just burn itself to cinders, not quite for the purpose of added fuel.

Oh, and that glass door? Glass melts during cremation. Not to mention smoke and splatter would render it useless. That glass door is all movie stuff. :)

In short, once you get the fire going right, just keep adding to it with other zombies. Proper timing will allow for everything to burn properly, efficiently, and completely. Ps. This is NOT the way I do business. Just sayin. :)
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Re: MA, Body Disposal, etc.

Post by jtjf_1 » Sun Mar 31, 2013 1:04 am

On the island of Bali in Indonesia they cremate their dead at a funeral gathering in the open in front of everyone. Most of the time they use LPG torches and they seem to be very efficient from the few ceremonies I have seen. The covering burns off first then the body just heats up and cooks off and turns to ash with some explosions really a weird sight and the smell is not that great.

Though In PAW LPG torches maybe hard to find you can use what the Balinese use to use (and some of the poorer still do) and that is old tires. Make a pile of tires and set the bodies on top and light them. Tires take a long time to burn and do a fairly good job. They also mask the smell.

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Re: MA, Body Disposal, etc.

Post by LowKey » Sun Mar 31, 2013 4:30 am

My wife's maternal grandmother died during our first visit to her home town after our marriage. On the third day after her death we placed her on a pyre and burned her remains. Used about 2 cords of wood and burned for about 18 hours or so. The next morning the ashes on the ground were raked through and a few bone shards and a couple of teeth were all that was left. No diesel, gasoline, or other accelerant was used, just very dry wood (logs about 6 ft long and 5 inches in diameter).
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Re: MA, Body Disposal, etc.

Post by DrJack » Sun Mar 31, 2013 12:31 pm

I've read in a book discrediting spontaneous human combustion that wrapping a human body in a cotton sheet wicks the fat and creats a slow, hot burn (Enough to incinerate bone to ash). There have been some tests on pigs with acceptable results and no fuel other than the sheet and the body. Can't seem to find anything on it off the googles right now.
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Re: MA, Body Disposal, etc.

Post by shrapnel » Sun Mar 31, 2013 2:25 pm

DrJack wrote:I've read in a book discrediting spontaneous human combustion that wrapping a human body in a cotton sheet wicks the fat and creats a slow, hot burn (Enough to incinerate bone to ash). There have been some tests on pigs with acceptable results and no fuel other than the sheet and the body. Can't seem to find anything on it off the googles right now.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22564024, this might not work- it's online as a powerpoint document, but I'm trying to send you to a quickview of it, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10750270, and http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11569545. Just for some starter light reading.
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Re: MA, Body Disposal, etc.

Post by SRO1911 » Sun Mar 31, 2013 11:32 pm

DannusMaximus wrote:
SRO1911 wrote:One thing about burning bodies - from personal experience (bovine, not human) - living things are mostly water, so you are having to dry as you burn - this means lots of fuel.
The old images of the medieval funeral pyres - looking like a couple cords of wood under one body? They did it that way for a reason.
Having talked about this with BIL who spent 20+ years with various fire depts. - even in a total loss house fire, people are still more meat than ash.

Side note - Bovine anthrax is scary shit. Perfectly normal to DRT in a few hours.
The part in bold is accurate.

I think, though, that the meat will have been cooked to the point that most or all pathogens are destroyed. Tissue will slough off a fully torched human like roast falls off the bone when it's been slow-cooked all day. According to foodsafety.gov heating most meats to 165 F makes them safe to eat. I would think that means you wouldn't have to reduce a person to ash to make them non-infections. You would need to burn them up completely to not have to bury the remains, though, because even a 'cooked' corpse left in the open will be a breeding ground for nasties in short order.

Yuk, and yuk!
We were told, by the very unpleasant folks from CDC - that, heat would kill anthrax bacteria BUT (and this was many years ago) - spores could remain in any moist tissue. Only way to be certain you have no moisture - - - ash.
There's a lot of different bugs out there and I am not a biologist (my step daughter IS {will be walking the stage for docs in microbio/viro in a couple weeks :clap: } and I get to here about all the nasties) but I know anthrax has been killing cows and to a lesser extent people - for a lonnnng time. Its not some super bug, its not a govt. oops - its just plain old garden variety pathogen - who knows how tough something new and exciting might be. If it were to come to it - I say safe beats sorry.

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Re: MA, Body Disposal, etc.

Post by DrJack » Mon Apr 01, 2013 10:03 am

shrapnel wrote:
DrJack wrote:I've read in a book discrediting spontaneous human combustion that wrapping a human body in a cotton sheet wicks the fat and creats a slow, hot burn (Enough to incinerate bone to ash). There have been some tests on pigs with acceptable results and no fuel other than the sheet and the body. Can't seem to find anything on it off the googles right now.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22564024, this might not work- it's online as a powerpoint document, but I'm trying to send you to a quickview of it, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10750270, and http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11569545. Just for some starter light reading.
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Re: MA, Body Disposal, etc.

Post by shrapnel » Mon Apr 01, 2013 10:46 am

That said, if there are bodies everywhere, because a giant pandemic or something wiped 50% of all humans out, and we're talking about what I personally would do... I'm going to try to get the most obvious ones out of my water supply, if that is an issue (I'd be cleaning the everloving hell out of the water anyway), and let nature do the work on the rest (unless someone is, like, in my front yard. No decomposing on my lawn. I might try to burn, or at least move, those.). It's going to smell terrible for a while, and there will likely be issues with scavenger population explosions, but nature is pretty efficient at decomposition, and I don't want to be all up in a bunch of rotting corpses for no reason. I live in Florida- it's hot, decomp should go relatively fast, and something will eat them. Problem solved (eventually).

Most bodies aren't breeding grounds for all sorts of terrible pathogens. Like, you don't want to go playing in them, but just them being there (assuming you aren't drinking water from next to one), isn't going to expose you to DeathPlague. Probably. Actually, for the most part, touching them without appropriate PPE would be more likely to be problematic, from an infection standpoint, than just leaving them be. Either whatever is in them will die during/after the decomposition process happens, or it will find an animal reservoir/host to take up residence in, in which case (again, assuming mass casualties) clearing out bodies in my immediate vicinity won't change that. Why take the risk*?



*Other than for psychological reasons, which are certainly a consideration.
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Re: MA, Body Disposal, etc.

Post by DannusMaximus » Mon Apr 01, 2013 8:32 pm

shrapnel wrote:... It's going to smell terrible for a while...
That doesn't even begin to describe the smell of a rotting human, and I simply can't imagine what dozens or hundreds of rotting humans would smell like.

Can't argue with the logic of leaving a small number of corpses out in the open (prefereably downwind and hauled a good distance away) for mother nature to dispose of, but I would be concerned about leaving piles of bodies out in the open. The clouds of flies alone would be :shock:
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