When keeping a body for more than 24 hours in warmer climes, without refrigeration or embalming, decomposition quickly sets in.
But how do you keep a body cool without a huge refrigerator? Dry ice inside a cooling blanket is the answer!
While the term “cooling blanket” sounds like an oxymoron, it’s actually an ingenious device for home funerals or green funeral homes. The Green Burial Council (GBC) developed this product, made from nontoxic plant-derived cellulose. Even though it looks and feels like white plastic, it is a biodegradable material.
Each blanket has four sleeves in which to slip dry ice. Ideally, the ice is cut into two by four by six inch pieces to fit in each sleeve. The cooling blanket, with about six ice bricks in three of the sleeves (two per sleeve), is placed on the torso of the decedent, leaving the face visible. Fabric can be laid over the cooling blanket to help with insulation and create a nice appearance.
On average, one needs about 15 pounds of dry ice for each day the body needs to be refrigerated. The dry ice bricks need to be replaced approximately every 12 hours, depending on factors such as the room temperature and size of the body.
Dry ice handling tips:
- Unless the dry ice is wrapped in paper, always use gloves when handling!
- Touching dry ice can cause the skin to freeze and blister like a heat burn.
- Always keep fresh air circulating in the room where the body is resting, in order to prevent accidental suffocation of the living. As dry ice evaporates, it emits carbon dioxide that can build up in a closed room and consume available oxygen.
- Keep dry ice in a cooler or ice chest. Dry ice in a freezer can damage the unit because it’s colder than the refrigerant coils!
- Store the ice in the cooler outside in the shade or in a well-ventilated room.
Check out more information about the cooling blanket in this YouTube video: