Preparing a Body Bag
Types of body bags
Before getting into preparing your body bag, let's look a few types of bags out there:
1. Mass Casualty Bags - These are not normally used for underwater bagging due to their design. They are made out of plastic or an EVA material and are mainly used when the victim has already been removed from the water to cover them up. These bags normally are impervious to (not affected by) blood and body fluids, hold up to 200 pounds, have a lightweight zipper (they usually come with a single zipper) and are approximately 85" x 35" in size. These bags also come with either a straight or envelope style zipper. They cost around $10.00.
2. Disaster Bags - These were the most commonly used bags in underwater body recovery until the mesh bag was invented. These bags are made with heavy gauge nylon or a vinyl-coated polyester fabric and can hold up to 450 pounds. Look for a bag that is large enough to hold just about any body (approx. 90" x 36") and can withstand chemicals as well as physical abuse. You also want double-pull zippers (two zippers) and your preference of either the center zipper or the envelope-style zipper. Handles make it a little easier to carry underwater when full. The zippers and handles should be reinforced for added strength. If possible, do not use bags that have any kind of liner inside. The liners just trap water and make draining the bag very difficult. These bags cost between $45.00-$75.00.
3. Mesh Water Bags - Mesh body bags are specifically designed for body recoveries in and around water because they drain the water out of the bag. One problem with mesh bags is that you can still see the victim inside. Most come with a perimeter zipper. These bags are constructed of extra strong vinyl coated nylon mesh double stitched nylon with 6-10 handles. Bags usually measure around 36" x 90" and can come in white, yellow or orange. They cost between $50.00 - $100.00
Body Bag Company
The one company I highly recommend is Knight Systems Inc. Knight Systems has been making body bags since 1981. Buddy Knight , the owner is one great guy who knows what he's doing when it comes to body bag design and can custom make bags to your liking.
Preparing your body bag
Most courts have ruled that a body bag can be used as an evidence container as long as it's a new bag (has never been used) and has been prepared properly.
The first thing I do is unzip the zippers and put plastic tie straps on my them to help in locating and working the zippers underwater. You can also put a glow stick on the plastic tie. The glow stick floats and makes it a lot easier to find the zipper underwater,
Prior to taking the bag underwater, you want to fold the bag. Please see the instructions on the UCI body bag folding technique.