Cremation Regulations in Pittsburgh

Losing someone close to you can be a very difficult thing to have to go through. However, when the time comes, you will need to decide on how to lay your loved one to rest.

While traditional burial is the most common way to send off a loved one, cremation has also become a viable option. Cremation involves the incineration of the deceased’s remains until only the ashes are left. The ashes can then be placed in an urn, after which the family can choose what to do with them—keep the ashes at home or scatter them at a place that is significant to their loved one.

However, there are cremation regulations in Pittsburgh that you need to be aware of. Let’s take a look at some of these regulations and explore how funeral homes may be able to help you navigate them.

The Death Certificate

A death certificate is the first thing that has to be obtained when someone passes away. Such official papers are vital in handling different issues including the acquisition of property and insurance benefits.

Here’s what you need to know:

1. Requesting Copies

If you have been tasked with settling your loved one’s affairs, ask the funeral home or crematory to provide you with multiple copies of your loved one’s death certificate. While you serve as an executor, try to get at least 10 copies of this document. If you’re a Pennsylvania resident, you can also directly contact the Pennsylvania Department of Health for the death certificate.

2. Assessing Eligibility

Anyone who is over 18 years of age can get a death certificate. Immediate family members like your loved one’s spouse, children, grandchildren, other direct relatives, legal representatives, and agents with a power of attorney are eligible. The certificate is therefore considered the main criterion in the establishment of any personal rights and the regulation of property ownership rights.

3. Timing and Refrigeration

24-Hour Rule: The state law in Pennsylvania permits cremation following 24 hours from the time your loved one passes away. However, if the cremation does not happen within this time frame, your loved one’s remains will be required to be embalmed, placed in a casket, or refrigerated. If the remains were refrigerated, the cremation must take place within the first five hours of the body being removed from refrigeration.

Embalming: Even though embalming is not a necessity, it will become so, as per Pennsylvania law, if your loved one’s body has not been cremated within the  24-hour timeframe.

4. Ash Disposition

Scattering the ashes in Pittsburgh is guided by state and local laws. Ash can be kept in an urn, scattered in a specific place, or buried in a burial plot. If you wish to scatter your loved one’s ashes, it’s advisable to refer to local regulations or speak to property owners as they typically have specific rules about where you can scatter ashes.

If you wish to scatter your loved one’s ashes in water, there are no laws in Pennsylvania that will prohibit you. However, you will need to avoid places where scattering ashes in a waterway could cause environmental damage or interfere with recreational activities.

Also, there are no laws in Pennsylvania that prohibit you from scattering ashes while airborne. However, the FAA has made it illegal to scatter ashes by dropping urns and other containers from aircraft as this can cause harm.

Other Things to Consider Before Cremating

Now that you have a good understanding of the cremation regulations in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, here are some other things you need to consider before going through with cremation:

1. Cultural and Religious Considerations

Pittsburgh is a city of many different nationalities, religions, and ethnicities. Many of these have well-defined customs related to death and cremation practices. Respecting these traditions is very important for the whole cremation process. So make sure that you notify your funeral service provider of particular religious or cultural preferences to let them accommodate them.

2. Financial Considerations

Cremation, in most cases, can cost less than traditional burial, but it’s still important to know in advance what the possible costs could be. These costs can include the cremation process itself, any ceremonies or services you wish to have, and also the cost of an urn or other memorialization items among other things. Also, many funeral homes and crematories in Pittsburgh have packages to facilitate this process and accommodate honest pricing.

How a funeral home can help navigate cremation regulations and more

Here’s how funeral homes can help you with cremation regulations and the process itself;

1. Understanding local and state regulations

Funeral homes and crematories are aware of the regulations when it comes to both local and state levels. This also includes any particular requirements such as cremation procedures, permits, and documentation.

2. Obtaining Necessary Permits

In a lot of places like Pennsylvania, a permit is compulsory before any sort of cremation can take place. Funeral homes may assist with the process of procuring a permit by making sure all the necessary documents are correctly filled in and submitted to the proper authorities.

3. Guiding the Cremation Process

Funeral homes can demystify the whole process of cremation by showing you how the body is prepared, how the crematorium works, and what is done with the ashes.

4. Handling the Deceased

They will be able to cover transportation, storage, and the preparation of the body for cremation, making sure all the steps are in accordance with the legal requirements, but with respect and dignity.

5. Conducting Ceremony and Memorial Services

Funeral homes can guide you in getting a desired ceremony or memorial service either before or after the cremation according to the regulations or customs of Pittsburgh.

6. Following Environmental Regulations

If there are any environmental regulations in Pittsburgh concerning cremation, the respective funeral home will assist you in understanding them and ensure that the regulations are followed.

7. Directing You to Additional Resources

Funeral homes offer services such as grief counseling or give reading material to help you come to terms with your loss and help you and your family heal.

Get in touch with a funeral home today

The process and the idea of cremating a loved one can be difficult to come to terms with and you might not know what you need to do. There is no shame in asking for help when you’re grieving and funeral homes can help you navigate this difficult challenge with their cremation services.

Get in touch with a funeral home in your area to learn more about cremation and to understand cremation regulations in Pennsylvania better.

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