Spring-Cleaning: Keep Pests Where They Belong

Spring-cleaning: Keep pests where they belong
The first in a set of seasonal guides to pest management*
Spring is in the air. As winter’s frigid temperatures dissipate and flowers start to bloom, it’s the perfect time of year for outside activity. While you’re soaking in spring’s mild temperatures, why not take some spring-cleaning steps to make your nursing home better protected against pests?

This is a crucial time of year to ramp up your pest-control program because it is the period in which many pests become more active. Nursing homes play host to a variety of pests, including flies, rodents, cockroaches, and ants. Fire ants, in particular, may be especially troublesome for nursing homes. There are documented cases of fire ants attacking residents and patients in healthcare facilities (see Nursing Homes/Long Term Care Management, February 2004 and September 2001).

Before taking any pest-related initiative, make sure your facility has an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program in place. IPM is an approach to pest control that stresses the use of nonchemical methods to help prevent pests from infiltrating a given environment.

Ideally, an IPM program is customized around your facility’s particular vulnerabilities and challenges. It starts with an inspection to identify potential entry points for pests. Although closing possible entry points may sound obvious, it’s the best way to keep pests out without chemicals. You’d be surprised how many nursing homes and other healthcare facilities do not take this important step.

Here are some other key spring-cleaning steps to take as part of an exterior pest-control program:

1.Remove vegetation that touches the building. Many pests invade from the outside by way of vegetation that touches a building. Make sure all tree branches, shrubs, and plants are trimmed back and that ample barrier space exists between vegetation and buildings.

2.Regularly inspect all doors to ensure that they close tightly, forming a seal to the outside.

3. Review your facility’s waste-management process to be sure all waste is collected regularly and removed from the premises promptly.

4. If your facility has an outdoor recreation or garden area for residents, keep those places clean and keep nearby doors closed. Pests and urban wildlife such as raccoons, which carry fleas and mites, are particularly fond of outdoor areas where they can find open food and drinks. One helpful tip is to use only closed-lid trash containers in these areas.

5.Continually monitor outside areas for fire ant mounds. If you see one, do not disturb or attempt to treat the mound. Proper treatment requires proper application of pesticides by trained and certified professionals. Contact your pest-management provider immediately.

All of these steps are eco-friendly, an important consideration for nursing homes. Applying unnecessary chemicals around areas where long-term care residents dwell is not ideal.

For more advice on setting up an exterior pest-control program, request a free, on-site consultation from a reputable pest-management provider, who will evaluate your current pest-management program and determine whether you are taking the right steps to keep pests from moving in.

Frank Meek, BCE, is Technical Director for Orkin Commercial Services and is a board-certified entomologist and acknowledged leader in the field of pest management. Orkin Commercial Services provides pest-management services to more than 250,000 commercial customers, making it one of the largest commercial pest-management providers in North America. For more information, call (800) 675-4669. To send your comments to the author and editors, e-mail meek0305@nursinghomesmagazine.com. To order reprints in quantities of 100 or more, call (866) 377-6454.

*This is one of four seasonal pest-management articles to be offered by Orkin Commercial Services in Nursing Homes/Long Term Care Management in 2005.

Topics: Articles , Facility management , Operations