Pest Control Blog

Are Pest Control Heat Treatments Safe?

March 14th, 2018 by Mike MacDonald in Bed Bugs, Pest Control Services

It’s with a heavy heart that we need to talk about a recent tragedy that has happened in the pest control industry, and that was an elderly woman who passed away from an improper heat treatment from a pest control company. The question comes to a lot of people’s mind now if pest control heat treatments are safe, so in this post we talk about why this tragedy happened and how to avoid such things in the future.

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Pest control heat treatments are a safe option when done correctly

One of the more unfortunate things about this tragedy is that it could have been prevented. Heat treatments for pest control can be a very safe option, but certain steps must be followed to maintain safety.

If you are seeking out a pest control service to do a heat treatment for your home, ensure they have proper experience. While it might sound like a simple process for a pest control company to add to their arsenal, it is easier said than done, and shouldn’t be something a company just jumps into.

Many companies have gone through the proper manufacturer and industry training associated with the equipment and processes used, but other companies may not do enough treatments to have a solid training program in place.

There needs to be certain processes followed before, during, and after, as well as ways to say safe as a home owner when these heat treatments are being done. Following proper procedures will keep heat technicians, the structure, personal belongings and tenants/homeowners safe. The end result is safety for everything but the invading pests.

Why people avoid typical chemical treatments

Now, many people think that chemical product pest control treatments aren’t that safe either. While in some cases that may be situationally true, as with heat treatments, it’s more about how the product is placed and used, rather than the products themselves.

Certainly, a heat treatment for bed bugs is inherently safer for your family than a chemical version of treatment, but even heat treatment processes will typically include some chemical treatment as well. There are a few downsides to using only chemical treatments for bed bugs.

One negative side of a chemical pest control treatment for bed bugs vs a heat treatment is that bed bugs are becoming more and more resistant to treatments from pesticides making them less useful.

In addition to that, a pesticide treatment for bed bugs can take much longer to be safe to re-enter your home compared to a heat treatment. There is also the concern of materials that should not have chemicals on them such as electronics, bedding, clothing, and other similar items which are just as likely to harbor pests such as bed bugs or cockroaches.

What safety steps need to be taken with pest control heat treatments

A pest control company should inform a home owner of certain steps they should be taking throughout the treatment process to stay safe. Unfortunately, in this recent tragedy those steps were not taken.

What a pest control heat treatment does is it raises the overall temperature in the treated rooms to a level where the targeted pest can’t survive. Certainly, you would want to stay out of the specific room being treated, but some of the other rooms in your home might not be safe for a few hours depending on your age and potential health issues.

In the unfortunate incident that happened, it was an elderly woman who had remained in the home too soon after the heat treatment had finished. While the treated room was many degrees warmer, well over 130 degrees, the temperatures in other parts of the home were elevated as well as a side effect.

Now, for the average person it would have probably been fine, but the woman was elderly and the temperature in the house outside of where was being treated was probably around 95 degrees. Certainly, this is still hot, but compared to the specific room being treated it would have felt much cooler.

Unfortunately this was just relative “cold” and as an elderly person, she just couldn’t handle the consistent 95 degree plus temperature of the rest of the home. This kind of thing shouldn’t have happened because the pest control company should have told the home owners to stay out of their home for at least several hours, to allow the overall temperature in the home to cool back down, to safe levels. In situations with special physical needs or sensitivities, it is also wise to consult the regular doctor for any special safety precautions.

Overall, the safety of a pest control heat treatment is relatively high compared to some other forms of treatments, but a pest control company should still give you prep instructions as well as post heat treatment instructions to make the process even safer.

There’s no need to fear heat treatments. With the proper care they are a very safe option for treating your home for pests. It’s again very unfortunate this tragedy occurred, and by following these guidelines, hopefully it will never happen again.

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