Sleepwalking Can Create Biohazardous Situations
Somnambulism, or sleepwalking, is fairly uncommon, occurring in only about 7% of adults. According to the Mayo Clinic, sleepwalking occurs more often in children, and some research has shown that up to 17% of children may sleepwalk. Some evidence suggests that sleepwalking runs in families and that a person can be up to ten times more prone to sleepwalking if an immediate family member sleepwalks.
Although rare, there are documented cases of sleepwalking resulting in dangerous and even deadly situations. Sleepwalkers have gotten behind the wheel of a car and driven, climbed out windows, operated a stove and other machinery, and wandered from the safety of their homes into heavy traffic, for example.
Sleepwalking is more of an inconvenience than a danger, and it is unlikely that a sleepwalker could create a biohazardous situation. Advanced Bio Treatment, however, was called to Montpelier, Vermont, to remediate the lobby of a hotel that was the unfortunate landing spot for a very active sleepwalker earlier this year.
The hotel staff described a husband, wife, and two little boys arriving one afternoon very energetic and excited. They were on vacation and looking forward to seeing the sites, but late that night things took a very strange turn.
The husband, who was severely overweight, required special accommodations because he had mobility issues, so the family was given a room on the first floor.
The night desk clerk reported seeing the husband walk down the hall from his room directly into the lobby around 11 PM. He was dressed only in an undershirt and boxer shorts. He walked around a bit and seemed to be collecting attraction brochures and quietly reading them. Although the guest’s attire was a bit unusual for a public place like a hotel lobby, the desk clerk paid him no further mind until a few minutes later, when he suddenly noticed a foul odor.
The desk clerk glanced around the lobby but didn’t see anything unusual other than the inappropriately dressed guest squatting near the large fountain at the hotel entrance. It wasn’t until this guest stood up and began walking briskly toward the concierge desk that the clerk realized that the guest no longer had his boxer shorts on. When the guest stopped and began urinating on the cabinetry, the desk clerk called out to the guest, but the guest ignored him. The clerk immediately dialed hotel security.
Once security officers arrived, they noticed that the guest had smeared feces on his thighs and promptly discovered that the guest had also defecated in the large fountain.
By this time, the guest’s wife had entered the lobby looking for her husband, who was now flanked by two security guards. Two additional security guards were taping off the fountain and the concierge-desk areas.
“George! George!” The wife was softly and gently nudging and speaking to her husband, who looked dazed. Suddenly, his eyes cleared and he stared at her and then down at himself. He was clearly confused and embarrassed.
“It’s okay, honey. Can I take him back to the room?” She implored the two guards.
“Well, ma’am, I don’t think so. Your husband, uh, used the bathroom . . .” The guard pointed toward the two roped off areas.
“Oh, dear. He walks in his sleep, sometimes a mile or two away, especially when we’re in a strange place. The doctor gave him a new prescription, but I guess it’s not kicking in yet. He didn’t mean any harm. I am SO sorry.”
After the hotel manager arrived and the couple answered a few questions and agreed to pay for the cleanup and any damages, the couple was escorted back to their room.
Human excrement, however, presents a biohazardous threat, especially in a public place frequented by so many people. The hotel’s biggest concern was keeping other hotel guests, along with hotel staff, safe and comfortable. The hotel manager immediately called ABT, and we had a team on site within 30 minutes to contain the affected areas to keep any biohazards from spreading to other areas, thoroughly clean up the urine and feces throughout the hotel lobby, and safely package and remove the biohazard waste. The fountain had to be drained, partially disassembled, and disinfected, and the entire lobby had to be cleaned, disinfected, and deodorized. One large Oriental rug had to be removed for special cleaning, and some office supplies within the cabinetry had to be replaced, but the loss was minimal. Our team had the lobby fully restored within two hours. Most guests never knew what happened.
If you or someone you love suffers from sleepwalking, or you’d like more information, please use these resources:
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