Finally undergoing much-needed renovations this year? While new construction, renovations and remodeling projects are fantastic for patients, visitors and staff, they can leave long-term care facilities vulnerable to additional pest pressures. Especially in the springtime, emerging pest populations will seek out readily available food, water and a new home – all necessary for their survival. It’s important to keep pest management in mind at all stages, but with a proactive approach, there’s no need to worry.
Some of the most common pest problems during times of renovation include termites, cockroaches, flies and rodents. Each of these pests can pose unique threats to facility operations and even patient well-being.
Cockroaches, rodents and common fly species are all unsanitary pests capable of reproducing quickly, contaminating food and spreading diseases. Cockroach infestations can even trigger asthma symptoms, especially for those with compromised immune systems. Rodents and termites are capable of structural damage if they sneak in undetected. Rodents specifically will gnaw on almost any exposed material left during renovations: wood, paper, dry wall, pipes and wires. While termites may not be a concern from a sanitation standpoint, their reputation for destruction is cause for concern. The National Pest Management Association reports that termite damages cost Americans more than $5 billion every year. These pests will target wood in structural timbers and flooring.
While many of the problems associated with pests are worst case scenario, these damaging situations can easily be avoided. Outlining a proactive approach to sealing out pests during the planning stage will give facility managers peace of mind during the construction process and help deter pests from making their way inside.
If your facility already has a pest management provider, utilize this partnership and have them conduct a thorough inspection beforehand and incorporate their suggestions during the planning process. If you don’t already have an established relationship, ask for recommendations in your area and consult a reputable provider for a professional opinion before renovations begin. Every building and location will have different pressure points, so inspection is of utmost importance. As a starting point, here are a few tips and tricks to ensure that builders, contractors and staff are on the same pest management page throughout the entire renovation or building process:
- Install plastic and/or air curtains to effectively block flying pests from entering the renovation and construction space.
- Consider strategically placing lights and/or baits outside to trap pests or lure them away from construction sites.
- Work with an HVAC professional to ensure your facility has positive pressure airflow, which means the air movement is toward the building’s exits as opposed to toward the building’s interior.
- Use non-cellulose building materials as they are the best deterrence for termites. Additionally, your pest management professional can create a preventive termite treatment zone around the structure.
- Inspect incoming materials for signs of pest activity before bringing them inside.
- Keep areas as clean and clutter-free as possible, disposing of trash properly and putting up materials at the end of the day.
- Seal any cracks, gaps and crevices that may have already existed or developed during the remodel. Note any hollow areas and check them thoroughly before sealing. Failing to do so can make removal extremely challenging and costly down the road.
Even when the project is completed, don’t forget that pest management is year-round. When pest pressures remain a priority before, during and after renovations or new builds, you can help keep pests at bay and patients, visitors and staff happy not only during times of renovation, but in the years to come.
Glen Ramsey is Technical Services Director for Orkin.