Crime scene cleaners specialise in cleaning and sanitizing homes, businesses, and vehicles after homicides, suicides, industrial accidents, and other traumas while demonstrating compassion toward those receiving services. As “second responders,” our goal is to help families recover by relieving them of the burden of cleanup and return to them a home that is completely clean and sanitised.
How is this different from a typical cleaning service?
Crime scene cleanup companies do more than just clean – they completely sanitise the affected area with special cleaning agents and are able to remediate situations that typical cleaning services cannot.
Are there specific health and safety requirements that crime scene cleanup companies must meet?
There are restrictions, regulations, and guidelines that all crime scene personnel must follow to ensure public health and safety. These protocols are overseen by agencies such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), and the Department of Transportation (DOT).
It baffles my mind how large corporate companies and institutions where thousands of people work/study daily does not have the proper health and safety precautions in place. Health and safety is one thing but accidents and unexpected trauma incidents do happen, like it or not. These things happen and the proper steps of dealing with it is not in place.
We have urged hundreds of companies and institutions to get ready for the ‘in case’, but yes as humans, we always think that ‘this’ will not happen to us. Well it does! And you as a Manager/Owner must have the steps in place. Maybe its just ignorance or maybe it is just an ‘I don’t care’ attitude. Well I for one are a bit taken back by this. Yes, you do have your safety check lists, but when push comes to shove you put your students and staff’s health at risk… because you ‘did not think this will happen’. Well it did… now what.
With all the red tape and paper work that needs to be completed before something can be done to help you… you just wasted valuable time… because you ‘did not think this would happen?’.
Now is you chance to make things right before its too late. List us as a service provider and get helped immediately. You cannot wait any longer! We have seen this scenario happen over and over again. Be prepared… be the leader in your field.
• Making your home less attractive to burglars
• Securing your premises
How to reduce the chances of your home being burgled. You can dramatically reduce the chances of your home being burgled, with some common sense
and the installation of simple effective security measures such as deadlocks, window locks and security grills.
Home security appraisal: YES or NO
With every ‘yes’ you tick your home becomes more burglar proof.
Other tips to help secure your home.
When leaving your home, ask yourself “Does it look like the house is empty?”
Consider following these tips:
• At night, leave inside lights on which would normally be on if you were at home
• Consider using electronic timing devices that turn the TV, radio or lights on and off at selected times
• Keep doors and windows locked at all times and activate alarm systems when leaving your home
• Consider installing movement-activated external lighting
• Install key operated locks for doors with glass panels
• Make windows more secure by fitting locks, safety film, security screens or external roller shutters
Gardens / Fences / Garages / Meter Boxes
• Keep trees and shrubs trimmed to minimise hiding places available to a burglar
• Put away tools, gardening equipment and ladders. Burglars may use these to
• Remember to lock garden sheds and garages
• Install low or see-through fences at the front of homes to deter burglars as they minimise hiding places
• Fit an approved meter box with a viewing window. Contact your electrical supplier for further information.
Finding a deceased body of a loved one is a traumatic and emotionally draining experience. Do not attempt to touch or move the body as it can put your health and safety at risk. The body of a deceased person can harbor potentially infectious bacteria that can infect those who come into contact with it.
So, what should you do if you find a dead body? To ensure your safety and follow the right protocol, follow these five steps.
If you find a dead body, it is important to be sensible, calm and orderly. Keeping these five things in mind can help:
Do not touch anything. This could be a situation where a crime has occurred. Evidence cannot be interfered with. Bodies can also begin decomposing very quickly. Do not touch the skin or body fluid as the body may contain potential bloodborne pathogens that can infect you and others.
Call 10111. SAPS officials and paramedics can determine if the person is, in fact, deceased and can make educated decisions about the next steps.
Ensure your safety. You do not know whether the dead person lost his or her life from violence, no matter how it may appear at first. If it seems the person was a victim of violence, communicate this when you call for help. If you feel like you could be in danger, remove yourself from the site and call for help from somewhere else.
Cooperate with medical professionals and police. Since you found the body, you may be questioned by law enforcement. Be cooperative, and try to remember as much as you can about how you found the scene.
If it is your responsibility to clean up, strongly consider getting professional assistance. Sometimes, a dead body is found in the home by a friend or relative, in which case the cleanup is the responsibility of the family or property owner. If you are tasked with the cleanup after the removal of the dead body, it is recommended that you seek professional assistance from a registered crime and trauma scene cleanup company rather than attempt the cleanup yourself.
Bloedsusters Crime Scene Cleanup is a professional crime and trauma scene cleanup company. For 18 years, we have helped families by cleaning up and decontaminate the scene of a crime or trauma incident. For assistance cleaning up, contact us online or call us at 0844 333 999 for immediate assistance.
The source of the Listeria strain has everyone up in arms and confused on what to do next.
Listeria loves your fridge.
Listeria can continue to multiply in uncooked food kept in the fridge. This is why processed meats, smoked meats and soft cheeses that are not cooked are often linked to outbreaks.
The NICD recommended the use of diluted bleach to clean areas where you may have kept viennas or polony.
First things first: You’ve got to take everything out. While it’s empty, give the fridge a scrub down with a bleach/water solution, then replace the remaining contents and condiments in the appropriate spot.
STEP ONE: Empty and Clean
REMOVE ALL FOOD PRODUCTS from the fridge/freezer and clean closed packaging with a diluted bleach product. Wipe down all surfaces of the fridge/freezer with a clean cloth soaked in the bleach solution. Pack all opened foodstuffs in ziplock bags to protect from cross-contamination. Check the manufacturing date and dispose of items that was produced during the Listeria outbreak. Dispose of items in ziplock bags and double bag. Mark the disposed products as “DANGEROUS” when disposing in regular waste. We do not need animals to get hold of these products on the disposal sites.
SANITIZE THE DRAWERS. Take them out (shelves too, if detachable) and use an old toothbrush to apply a paste of thick bleach and hot water to the corners and shelf seams. Agitate the paste to lift up grime. Scrub every side with a sponge dipped in warm, soapy water. Rinse and pat dry. Dispose of cloths and sponges used in the cleaning process.
DEGRIME THE DRIP PAN. If your refrigerator has a removable drip pan, soak it for a few minutes in hot, soapy water, scrub with a sponge, then rinse.
DEODORIZE. Get rid of odors by wiping the inside walls with a microfiber cloth spritzed with an bleach and water solution. Wipe again using a paper towel dipped in a bowl of diluted bleach and water. And while you are at it…
REMOVE DUST. Using the brush attachment, vacuum the coils, which may be behind the refrigerator. Wipe down the grille (typically at the base) with a dryer sheet to remove and repel dust.
Cooking kills the listeria bacteria.
Food should be heated above 70 degrees Celsius as heat kills the listeria bacteria. Cooked food must be kept separate from raw food and utensils used on raw food must not touch cooked food, in order to avoid cross-contamination.
If you are unsure how to deal with the cleaning of the fridge/freezers or need us to come and assist you, call us on 0844 333 999 for an obligation free quote.
Loneliness is a nearly invisible affliction. It often has little to do with being physically alone – even those surrounded by friends, family and co-workers can feel it’s pangs.
But there are subtle signs. There may be obvious sadness, a loss of the ability to sleep, hostility, sudden weight gain, constant fatigue, or any number of unexplained behavioral changes. If you’re unsure, one of the best things to do is simply ask. This can only reveal someone’s loneliness, but simultaneously make them feel important.
Once you become aware of loneliness in your friend or loved one’s life, you may feel confused about what to do. Loneliness can be a very complex result of many different factors. But there are some actions you can take to cheer up just about anyone, regardless of the source of their loneliness. Read on to find out 6 great ways to cheer that lonely someone up.
Do something small
People know pity. If someone you care about lets you know that they are feeling lonely, don’t make them feel like they’re a charity case. The last thing they need is to feel pitied.
Instead, do something that feels natural. Invite them to join you on the same outings that you’d normally go on, and be sure to invite them regularly. Don’t make grandiose, sweeping invitations, and especially don’t overwhelm them with social calls – feeling like someone is spending time with them out of pity will only amplify their loneliness.
Remember, loneliness often stems from a low self-esteem, so let them know that they’re valuable without making them feel pitied. Lonely people are much more likely to see interactions as negative, so any hint of patronizing behavior could be very hurtful. Remind them, through your actions, that you sincerely want their presence, and that they make you happy. Be real. They will appreciate it.
Being a good listener involves more than just hearing, it takes work, and if you do it right, it could make that lonely person feel incredibly valued.
When they are speaking, do your best not to interrupt them – wait your turn to speak. Don’t let your mind drift to what you want to say next, either. remain in the moment while listening, and focus on what the other person is saying. It’s harder than it sounds, but try it!
Show your interest in what they’re saying through open and positive body language, such as being sure to face them as they speak, and maintaining comfortable eye contact. Nod when appropriate, don’t be a stone. Let them know that their words are affecting you, and that you’re sincerely interested. Otherwise, they may begin to feel like a burden to you.
Being an active listener gives you the power to make people feel important. Use it well.
Do what they love
If someone is socially isolated, they’re probably not engaging in the social activities that make them happy. Remember those active listening skills? Well, it’s tome to use them!
Find out what they like, and what their passions are, if you don’y already know. Connect them with the things that they love, especially if you can do it unexpectedly, this is sure to bring a smile to their face. Why? Because it means that they exist. Someone has thought of them – not only that, but someone cares enough to get to know them, and to use that knowledge to their benefit.
So make use of those ears! Nothing says ‘I care about you’, more than someone knowing about that weird little niche that you absolutely love.
And speaking of getting to know people, let’s move on to one of the best ways to cheer a lonely fellow up!
A lonely person needs strong, optimistic friends. Negativity, sadness and loneliness can easily spread – think of them almost like social diseases. Make sure that you’re a positive influence. This can be a lot of work, especially if you’re not naturally cheerful, but it can make a world of difference.
Likewise, happiness and energy can be infectious as well. Inspire them! talk about things that excite you, and things that you know excite them. If the conversation begins to turn negative, turn it around. Sometimes people just need to be reminded that it’s okay to be happy.
Play with animals
There are few things more comforting than a pet. Numerous studies show that animals make us happier, and leave us feeling more fulfilled and relaxed. They can be wonderful social ice breakers, and their sincere, unfiltered affection can allay feelings of loneliness like nothing else.
Becoming part of a support structure
Cheering up that lonely friend can often, as we’ve seen, be as simple as spending time with them. If you know someone who is going through a difficult time, don’t be afraid to reach out – even though they may not necessarily seem thankful at the time, it will help. Remember, though, that people need an entire support structure; you can’t be everything to one person, and you shouldn’t try to be. You can only provide what you can uniquely bring to their lives.
Be a part of the support structure they need, and you’ll be a part of the solution, bringing cheer and happiness to the life of another.
The following extract was taken from The Finer Minds Guide – Marisa Peer. We thought it a good read and would like to share her view.
As a behavioral therapist, I have had countless clients over the years tell me that a certain fear or phobia is constraining their life, and preventing them from reaching their full potential.
Whether it’s a common fear such as public speaking, or a more unusual one such as fear of a particular animal or object, I always tell my clients the same thing: almost all of our fears are acquired, which means that we’re not born with them and we have the power to get rid of them.
The best way to dissociate irrational fears is to identify the root cause of them. For example, fear of public speaking is always a fear of being judged and then rejected. Giving a speech magnifies this fear because if you mess up or sound unintelligent, there is an entire audience present to witness your failure and judge you.
Fear of a certain food, place, or activity may trigger a memory that was very unpleasant or harmful in the past. In this case your fear is somewhat irrational, as you have forged a negative association with something that’s very unlikely to happen to you again. Central to my practice as a therapist is the idea that the mind controls everything — whether it’s fear, addiction, compulsion, or your body’s inability to carry out a normal function.
Just as your mind has always told you to be scared in a certain situation, it can equally tell you to not be scared in the very same scenario. The important thing to remember is that you are in control of your mind, rather than the other way around.
How you feel about something — whether it’s a certain food, place, or activity like speaking in public — is entirely dependent on two things: the pictures you make in your head and the words you say to yourself. Think about how you might feel happy to hold or touch a ladybird or butterfly, but doing the same to a cockroach or moth would be terrifying; all four are insects that crawl or flutter, but the former two are positively associated with being cute or beautiful while the latter two are thought of negatively as pests.
If you have a fear of injections, it’s because you link pain to the idea of an injection, but if you’re already in extreme pain you’ll start to link pleasure to an injection. If you can change what you link pleasure and pain to, you can begin to alleviate your fears.
Think of two people who are sitting next to each other on a flight from Johannesburg to Cape Town. One is thrilled that they are about to go on holiday and their mind is full of thoughts of sunshine and beaches. The other is dreading the takeoff and terrified that any turbulence will bring down the aircraft. Both individuals are on the exact same plane, subject to the exact same level of risk, and have the same level control over the situation (very little). Yet the person who has formed positive associations with the experience is suffering much less.
You can choose to be the former person to overcome your fear. Even if you’ve had an extremely negative experience in the past that causes your fear today, there are certain physical changes you can consciously make to your body that will help trigger a calming reaction.
For example, lowering your shoulders and swilling saliva around your mouth counteracts the natural reaction to fear (i.e. tensing up the shoulders and getting a dry mouth).
At the same time, tell yourself the opposite of whatever your fear is by using a positive affirmation: “I love insects, they are part of the beauty and perfection of nature” or “I love flying on this plane because it’s taking me home to the family I love.” While you may not believe your affirmation the first time you say it, with repetition and belief, it’s amazing how your mind will respond. Try it today.
RECOVERY AFTER A ROBBERY A GUIDE TO HELP EMPLOYERS SUPPORT THEIR EMPLOYEES
If your store, business, or office has experienced an armed robbery, your employees may suffer from trauma symptoms. In addition, staff not present during the robbery may also have emotional reactions.
In order to effectively support your employees in recovering from the traumatic experience and returning to normal, a business owner or manager needs to know what to say or do to promote healing. As South Africans, we are preprogrammed to believe that a bank or store robbery means someone is going to get hurt. We’ve watched movies or television shows where a robbery takes place and (almost always) someone is shot and often killed. The evening news only reports a robbery when it’s a large or unusual heist OR when someone is hurt or killed. Most other robberies that took place in the city that day are not even mentioned. Even though the vast majority of robberies do not result in injuries, much less death, employees in a robbery often think: “I’m going to get killed.” “I’m going to die.” “He’s going to hurt me.” “He’s going to hurt us.” “My friends/co-workers/customers may get hurt.” “They’re going to kill us.”
Humans have a primitive bio-chemical response for dealing with dangerous situations. This automatic response prepares the body to fight or flee from a real or perceived threat. The fear causes a chain reaction in the brain, releasing chemicals that cause a racing heart, fast breathing, energized muscles, and other physical reactions. In addition, the part of the brain that controls rational thoughts is bypassed. The more an employee thinks he will suffer injury or death, the greater his traumatization. It’s important to remember that everyone responds differently to a traumatic event based on each individual’s coping ability, values, life experiences, personality, support systems, fears, expectations, and beliefs.
Your employees may experience the same feelings at the same times, or one person’s feelings may be different from the others. Ideally, your company should provide the opportunity to meet with a crisis counselor who specializes in trauma recovery. Crisis counseling within 12 to 48 hours after the incident will help the impacted employees to normalize their feelings, educated them about their feelings and other symptoms, and help in lessening (or avoiding altogether) subsequent trauma symptoms. This will cut down on employee absenteeism, lost productivity, attrition, and workman’s compensation claims.
Even if you don’t have access to a crisis counselor, as an owner or manager, there are things you can do to aid your employees’ emotional recovery.
AFTER THE ROBBERY 1. Make sure managers, including upper management or the owners of the business, check in with the affected employees.
An important part of recovery for impacted employees is the perception that management cares and supports them through the healing process. Therefore management needs to make their communications to the employee in an empathetic manner. The day of the robbery, managers should call or visit the business to enquire about the well-being of their employees and help put the business back in order. (You may not be able to speak with the employees until after law enforcement is finished with their interviews.)
Your conversation should express dismay that the employee was affected, allow him/her to talk about her experience if he/she wants to (sometimes employees feel “talked out”), encourage her to take care of herself, and offer to be of assistance if the employee needs to talk in the future. Although you might need to discuss time off, in this conversation do not discuss other business. This isn’t the time to ask the employee if he’ll still be able to meet his sales goals. That kind of discussion will only give the impression that you value money over the well-being of the employee.
2. Give the affected employees the option to go home or return to work the next day.
Some employees want to return to work right away because that helps them feel more in control. Others may need a few days away from work. Many businesses close for the rest of the day because interviews with law enforcement and their investigation, plus returning the store to order, may take hours. Also the employees may be too exhausted or upset to continue working. Be aware that hurrying employees to reopen the store within a few hours of the robbery may send the message that money is more important than their well-being. Some companies have policies that cover employees in case of a robbery. For example, the company can offer affected employees three paid days off. These days may be taken right away or at a later time if symptoms arise sometime after the event.
3. Educate employees about how they might be affected. A robbery may cause emotional injuries to all who experience the incident.
The victim of a robbery may initially experience any or all of the following thoughts and emotions:
• Denial • Disbelief • Shock • Fear • Anxiety • Guilt
• Hopelessness • Helplessness • Anger • Agitation
Panic – Afterwards the victim may feel:
• Sadness • Grief • Overwhelmed • Confusion • Despair • Unfairness
• Anger • Fear • Helplessness • Anxiety • Guilt • Numbness
• Outrage • Alone • Vulnerable • Depression
These feelings are a normal response to a frightening event. It is important for the victim to allow herself to feel her emotions. Be aware that she can cycle through different emotions. Sometimes these cycles might take minutes, or they can take hours, days, or weeks. Or people may become “stuck” in one or more of the same feelings. Traumatic events can layer on the psyche. If the employee has experienced other traumas in his life, those memories, feelings, and symptoms may resurface, so he’s emotionally hit with a double whammy.
In addition to feelings, the employee may experience symptoms of extreme stress or post-traumatic stress that may occur right after the incident and last for days, weeks, or even months:
• Nausea • Difficulty falling asleep • Tremors • Helplessness
• Sleeping too much • Not eating OR overeating • Depression • Heartburn
• Irritability • Tearfulness • Hopelessness • Jittery
• Headaches • Feeling lost • Overwhelmed • Weight loss OR gain
• Survivor guilt • Numbness • Overly critical • Forgetful
• Flashbacks • Overly sensitive • Denial • Flashbacks
4. Call in a crisis counselor to support and educate the affected employees as well as other employees who weren’t involved, but still have feelings about it.
If your company has a contract with an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), they may provide crisis/grief counselors who, upon request, can come to your jobsite. Counseling is confidential to those who participate. The EAP may also have a confidential hotline, allowing the employees to speak with a counselor. They may also have handouts you can give to your employees. Provide the number to all affected employees.
5. Monitor the employee’s emotional state by asking specific questions.
Most people are programmed to answer the question, “How are you doing?” with “fine” or “okay.” The answer to the question, “Are you all right?” usually is, “I’m fine” or “I’m okay,” even if the employee is far from “okay.” Instead, ask questions about possible symptoms. “How did you sleep last night?” or “Are you having flashbacks?” If you were also involved in the robbery, or have been robbed in the past, use your own experience to normalize your questions. “I’m having a tough time falling asleep. How are you sleeping?” Or, “I remember the first few nights after I was held up at gunpoint, I couldn’t fall asleep. How is it for you?”
6. Avoid “the what” if syndrome.
It’s common for victims to speculate about other things that could have gone wrong. “What if he’d shot me?” “If I had been killed, what would happen to my children?” The more the employee imagines all the ways she could have been impacted, the more she becomes upset and stressed. These fear fantasies further traumatize the victims. Employees who were not present at the robbery can also do this. “What if I’d been there?” What if I’d gotten hurt?” This kind of mental stress is controllable. In a calm, compassionate manner, remind the employee that her fear fantasy didn’t happen. Just pointing out how she is continuing to traumatize herself is often enough for the employee to make the mental effort to curtail her negative thinking.
7. Stay away from fearful thoughts of the future. It’s very easy for employees (both those present in the first robbery and those who weren’t) to fear it happening again.
As long as an armed, uniformed security guard is present at the site, most employees feel secure. But they dread the day when the guard leaves. If there isn’t a security guard, or if the guard is no longer present, employees can remain afraid of another robbery. While you can’t promise employees there won’t be another robbery, you can coach them how to react if one occurs. Aside from what specifically to do at your business, i.e., whether to press the panic button, the best thing an employee can do during a robbery is remain calm. To do this the employee needs to take a deep breath and say to herself, “Remain calm, and do whatever they want. Everything will be over in a few minutes.” The deep breaths and positive mental commands will also help the employee minimize the traumatic response.
8. Be aware trauma symptoms take time to recover from and may surface (or resurface) weeks or months later.
The employees may experience these reactions immediately after an event, or days, weeks, or even months later. The symptoms may last for a few days, a few weeks, or even longer. The symptoms and feelings of trauma may come in waves; reminders can trigger a new wave. Each day doesn’t get progressively better. The employee can have a good day, then a bad day.
9. Have manager and HR regularly follow up with the affected employees. Call every day in the first few days, then every couple of days.
Start the conversation with, “I just wanted to know how you’re doing.” Don’t start the conversation with asking when they’re going to return to work. If you need that information, ask him toward the end of the discussion. After a few days, the trauma symptoms should start to ease. If, after four or five days, the employee still has strong trauma symptoms, suggest he contact the EAP to see a counselor, or meet with a local counselor who specializes in trauma recovery.
10. Realize affected employees may have an anxiety reaction when they return to the business where the robbery occurred.
Employees can re-experience the trauma when they first return to the jobsite. This may cause anxiety, even to the point of thoughts such as, “I need to get out of here.” If the employees are educated as to what to expect, and given empathetic support when they first return, the employees will better weather the transition back to work. It’s best for an employee to not take more than a few days off from work. If an employee has reservations about returning, it might help to ease her into the environment. Start by encouraging her to come in for a short shift, instead of her full shift. Give him “light” or “adjusted” duty. Give the employee a shift that feels more comfortable for him. Some employees may be afraid to close, especially if it’s dark outside.
Employees should seek professional assistance if:
• They feel they need or want to speak with a counselor.
• Disturbing behaviors or emotions last more than four to six weeks.
• Disturbing behaviors or emotions make it difficult to function normally, whether at work, or in family life.
• Others are concerned about their behaviors or emotions.