Ascertain cause, Manner, and Time of Death
The Presumptive Sings of Death include cessation of respiration, cessation of heartbeat, changes in the eyes, and cooling of the body. Positive signs of death indicate that death has occurred. This includes postmortem lividity, postmortem rigidity, instantaneous rigor, postmortem decomposition, and insect invasion. All of these signs of death can help you determine time, cause, and manor of death.
Cessation of respiration is the apparent lack of breathing. In certain types of death like electrocution and drowning, the victim may not be breathing but life may still exist. To determine if breathing is occurring, watch movements of the chest and abdomen. You can also hold a mirror over the mouth or nose too see if the victim is breathing. If breathing is absent, other signs of death should be looked for.
Cessation of heartbeat is the absence of the heart beating. A person qualified using a stethoscope can only determine it. The doctor can’t always detect a weak heartbeat so feel for the pulse or lay a hand flat over the left side of the chest. If no heartbeat it is likely that death has occurred but it should be confirmed by another person.
Cooling of the body does not indicate death because the body may have cooled of “medical conditions retarding circulation or by prolonged exposure.” If death has occurred the body will become the same temperature of its surroundings. The cooling of the body can be different in the area were the body is. If it were found in the snow the body would cool much faster then if it was found on a hot day. If the body is found in room temperature and it is “cool and clammy” it is likely that death has occurred at least 12-24 hours before it was found. ” The temperature of the body is affected by the environmental factors involved.”
The positive signs of death indicate that death has o