Pest hot spots: Receiving and storage areas
Is making your healthcare facility pest free in 2014 one of your New Year's resolutions?
Last year, I wrote several columns on different pests that can target your facility. (Editor's note: You can see Greg's previous columns by clicking here). This year, perhaps it's time we examine areas within your facility that attract pests in the first place. Just like humans, pests need food, water and shelter to survive, and there are areas in your facility that may offer these pillars of life – and not just the kitchen.
Sometimes, the most pest pressure isn't found at the front entrance, but rather the back door. Receiving and storage areas can be hot spots for pests because they often offer everything pests need. Stacks of boxes can create hiding places, or shelter, and receiving doors can provide entry. When pressed for food, some pests like cockroaches will even eat the glue found in cardboard.
Work with your pest management professional to implement an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program to make sure pests aren't given easy entry. By eliminating attractants in this area, an IPM approach helps control pests from getting in and taking over your facility.
Use these IPM tactics in your receiving and storage areas, and don't give pests a reason or way to get inside:
Close it off
It's amazing just how little space pests need to gain entry into your building. Mice only need an opening the size of a dime while rats can squeeze through a quarter-sized gap. Cockroaches can squeeze through an opening a fraction of an inch thick.
Not only can they squeeze under receiving doors, but different pests can also sneak in on shipments. It's important to inspect all incoming shipments right away for pest activity and make sure that exterior doors form a tight seal when closed. The same goes for containers in storage areas – be sure to keep them closed as well.
Keep it clean
Storage and receiving areas need to stay clean, well-lit and free of clutter – pests can find places to hide amongst clutter and darkness.
Store boxes and containers at least six inches off the floor and 18 inches away from walls. Also, throw away or recycle cardboard boxes whenever you can as smaller pests can hide within the flutes of the corrugation.
Blow it out
Much like at your main entrances, you can blow pests out the door by making sure air is flowing out, not in, at your receiving entrances.
Work with an HVAC professional to make sure you have positive airflow – test this by holding a piece of paper in the receiving entrance and see which way it blows. If the paper blows outside, you have positive airflow, which creates a bit of an air curtain that makes it harder for flying pests to enter.
You can create an even stronger air curtain that pests can't fly through by vertically mounting fans – or, better yet, commercially available air curtains – on either side of the receiving doors, which will blow air out when the doors are open.
Use these IPM tactics, and you can cool this pest hot spot off.