Why Do Funeral Directors Ask About Pacemakers?

Funeral Directors routinely ask families during the arrangement process about pacemakers. Standard safety precautions are in place because of the explosive potential of pacemakers when heated. Pacemakers explode during the cremation process because of the rapid formation of gas which bursts the pacemaker’s casing. An explosion during the cremation process could cause serious damage to the crematorium chamber, as well as grave injury to the crematorium staff.
To avoid injury and damages, pacemakers are routinely removed from decedents to avoid the risk of explosion during cremation. The repairs on a crematorium chamber can be very expensive. Similarly, jewellery, beverages, and glass or metal items can cause damage to a crematorium chamber too. It is regular practice to remove these items prior to cremation and return them to the family or place them in the urn with the cremated remains as a keepsake. 
There is a risk of electrical shock during the removal process so a pacemaker should only be removed by a trained licensed funeral director. A funeral director will make an incision above where the pacemaker is implanted. The pacemaker is then removed from the incision and the wires are cut. Some funeral directors take the extra precaution to demagnetize the pacemaker as well. Pacemakers are often donated or recycled. Some families wish to have them returned. 
If a casket burial is taking place rather than a cremation, the pacemaker is often buried with the deceased. Pacemakers can pose environmental hazards depending on the type of battery, so please seek guidance from your funeral professional. 
Basic Funerals and Cremation Choices adhere to strict regulations and procedures for the respect of the decedent, the care of the families we serve, and for the safety of our associates working at crematoriums. 
If you have questions about other safety measures or other aspects of arranging for a cremation, please feel free to reach out to our team.