Of all of the natural disasters that we are exploring wildfires and volcanic eruptions are the most dangerous and devastating for funeral homes. Once human remains are exposed to fire the damage can and in most cases is irreversible. Gloriann Luccero of Empire Mortuary, Ukiah California explained that due to the potential dangers posed by wildfires raging in their Northern Californian town her funeral home management implemented that are strictly adhered to by all who work at and with the funeral home.
While it is their hope that their facility refrigeration unit would be able to withstand a fire BUT in order to ensure that the deceased are protected they do their best to get as many deceased out of their location and moved to their sister location an hour and a half away as safely as possible for those making the transport. This transport more than likely would be executed by placing the deceased in cremation boxes which are suitable for temporary storage while allowing for more deceased to be moved in a single trip as opposed to being transported in caskets.
To ensure that no one is misplaced or “mixed up” a further step of placing a metal identification medallion with copies of corresponding paperwork is placed in each cremation box or casket with the deceased. Families are notified of all transports and services may be rescheduled to ensure the safety of funeral goers, the deceased and funeral home employees until conditions improve. If the event that the deceased are not able to be safely transferred and stored; the deceased are stored in the refrigeration units with metal identification medallions until funeral directors are able to safely able to retrieve them.
Hawaii is the only place in the United States currently affected by the active volcanic activity. I had the pleasure of speaking with Mitchell Dodo owner of Dodo Mortuary in Kilo, HI. Dodo Mortuary has been serving the Hilo and surrounding community for over 100 years. Mr. Dodo explained that due to the uncertain and violent nature of volcanoes no one on the Hawaiian islands will invest in establishing a funeral near the volcanoes. Mr. Dodo expressed that there are currently no protocols in place for responding to a volcanic eruption because his funeral home is 45 miles away from the nearest volcano. He did express that my telephone call has prompted him to establish an emergency response and train his team accordingly.
Join us next week when we discuss earthquakes.
Joél Simone Anthony, also known as ‘The Grave Woman,’ is a licensed funeral director and embalmer. She is dedicated to eliminating misconceptions about post-life preparation while stimulating an open, honest and straight forward discussion about death. You can submit your comments, questions and requests to firstname.lastname@example.org or by using our contact page.