Tag Archives: whole room heat treatment

Bed Bug Legal Considerations for Hospitality

Bed Bug Standard of Care and Legal Considerations for Hospitality

The experts agree, if you don’t have a proactive bed bug prevention program, you won’t have a good defense in court.  After all, in our litigious society, it is only a matter of time before a situation arises and a guest files a bed bug complaint.  To manage it well, a few key items must be in place prior to the occurrence:

  • Well trained front desk staff on how to handle the situation
  • A relationship with a pest control company, that are experts in bed bugs and their removal, to get rid of them fast and effectively

However, if a problem does escalate to a lawsuit or formal claim it is imperative that the following was established BEFORE the incident in question:

  • The hotel has a proactive program in place that includes:
    1. Regular inspections of all rooms for bed bugs
    2. Written protocol that employees are trained on, tested on and it is followed
    3. Formal training for housekeeping on what to look for, where to look for evidence, and a reporting process of rooms of concern. Documentation that training and testing has all occurred for every employee.  The same applies for all maintenance, front desk and management staff.  Training needs to occur for all current and future staff.
  • Management must be fully aware of the status of their rooms. The hotel must keep excellent pest control records outlining every inspection and treatment performed in every room.
  • The hotel defines “infested room” as 1 live bed bug or 1 live bed bug egg. Rooms with known active issues are NEVER released to sales for booking.
  • Bed bug infestations are handled swiftly – no longer than 24 hours to inspect and 1 week to treat (generally accepted, not code). All active rooms have a full 360 degree inspection of the adjacent rooms to confirm that the infestation has not spread.
  • A chronic bed bug problem in a room calls for different treatment methods, than previously employed, to fully exterminate the infestation.
  • Rooms are re-inspected following treatment to confirm eradication of bed bugs
  • Treatments are performed by a fully trained and licensed professional pest control company. There is too much documented evidence that bed bugs are not a do-it-yourself pest. In-house treatments will represent an inadequate effort to exterminate.

The plaintiff’s lawyer will focus on the following areas in a bed bug lawsuit:

  • Negligence – Lack of Compliance to the International Property Maintenance Code (Section 309)
    1. Property kept free from pests
    2. Pests promptly removed
    3. Precautions put in place to prevent future infestations (proactive inspections)
  • Consumer Protection
    1. Misrepresentation/Fraud– property not fit for habitation
    2. Non-disclosure of a known problem
  • Battery – the hotel put something into motion that caused harm to a person’s body or neglected to stop something that caused physical harm to a guest.

Georgia Law contains the following ruling established in 1961:

The innkeeper has a duty to inspect and is liable for such injuries caused by defects as would be disclosed by a reasonable inspection. Johnson v. John Deere Plow Co., 214 Ga. 645, 647 (106 SE2d 901) Hillinghorst v. Heart of Atlanta Motel, 104 Ga. App. 731, 1961 Ga. App. LEXIS 784 (Ga. Ct. App., October 4, 1961, Decided ).

  • Because a massive infestation present in a hotel room can be disclosed if there is a reasonable inspection by hotel staff, Georgia law finds hotels liable for bedbug injuries to their hotel guests. By Williams Oinonen, LLC.

Once a guest has filed a claim, many hotels try to fight them.  However, the following are defenses that don’t typically protect the hotel:

  1. Ignorance – willful ignorance is usually considered knowledge of the problem, commonly referred to as the “Ostrich” defense (head in the sand)
    1. A subset of this defense is to “wash hands of the issue” and move blame to the pest control provider who did not fix the problem – “I hired a professional, it is his responsibility. I don’t know anything about pest control.”  The counter to this is: “You don’t know anything about plumbing either but you know when a faucet is leaking.” Management must have oversight over their pest control company.
  • Blame of consumer for problem – “they brought it in” – if there is ANY evidence in the room or adjacent rooms of an infestation or any of the rooms have a history of being infested, then consumer blame will be hard to prove
    1. However detailed records of past inspections will provide the needed history and proof of due diligence for a good defense

In the end, the challenge we face in the hospitality industry is that the “Standard of Care” for a hotel will ultimately be defined by a jury.  So in any bed bug case the Jury will ask the following:

“Bed bugs are a known issue in hotels, did this hotel do everything in its power (what was reasonable) to protect the consumer or did they cut corners?  If so, was it intentional or unintended?  Did the consumer suffer needlessly?”  The answers to these questions will determine the multiplier for punitive damages.

The best defense is to be proactive and detailed in your inspections, training, documentation and follow through.  If you would like to know more on how Red Coat can assist your property or ownership company with a proactive bed bug prevention program, please contact John Marratt at 404-665-3985 or jmarratt@redcoatservices.com.

DISCLOSURE: I am NOT an attorney nor do I position myself as such.  Our knowledge of bed bug law is through formal pest control training and the guidance of other vested parties.  We share this information with you as a professional courtesy, all information should be reviewed with your own legal advisers prior to acting upon it.

 

May the Heat Be With You!

Ashley, Atlanta Bed Bug Control Specialist

 

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Bed Bug Success Stories – Episode 1

Our company, Red Coat Services, has been working with a variety of multifamily clients over the years.  They come to us exasperated by a constantly expanding bed bug problem.  Through frequent visibility and vigilance we have conquered the problem.  Here are their stories….(names have been changed to protect the innocent and the guilty)

CLIENT XYZ

The client owned a 175 unit high end apartment complex with college student and young professional residents.  Property Management knew of 7 units that had bed bug problems in the past and had already been treated by another company.  When those treatments were not successful, management contracted with Red Coat to perform full property quarterly canine inspections and whole unit heat remediation for active infestations.

Red Coat’s initial canine inspection identified 27 of 175 (15%) units infested which was a significant increase over the 7 known units.  Whole unit heat treatments were completed for all active units.

The second quarterly inspection identified 5 new units infested (3%). The third quarterly inspection identified 1 unit infested (1%).  The fourth quarterly inspection identified ZERO infested units.

Management promptly sold the property following resolution of bed bug problem.

I hope this gives you inspiration.  A big problem is not the end of your reputation or your property.  Red Coat can fix it for you!

May the Heat Be With You!

Ashley, Atlanta Bed Bug Control Specialist

 

Hotels Receive Free Treatments for Bed Bugs with RED COAT COVERAGE!

TheBedBugAnswer-ShieldOnlyBeginning this month Red Coat Services launches RED COAT COVERAGE for the hospitality industry!  Just think, you get a proactive inspection program, all the savings of non-pesticide heat treatments, and no more surprise expenses.  Rooms are back on-line faster so you can put heads in beds!

Here are the details…

  • Markets: Georgia and South Carolina
  • Type of Properties: Hotels
  • Program:   Purchase quarterly bed bug K9 inspections for your whole hotel for the year and Red Coat will perform any and all your bed bug treatments for Free!
  • Payments: Pay across the 12 months – so you can make bed bug costs a P&L expense rather than a non-budgeted capital expense!

If you would like a RED COAT COVERAGE quote for your hotel, contact John at 404-665-3985 x333 or jmarratt@redcoatservices.com.  Don’t wait till your guests get bit.  Get ahead with RED COAT COVERAGE!

The 3 Biggest Bed Bug Mistakes Made by Property Managers Today!

If you work in multifamily housing bed bugs are an old subject by now.  But as we have all come to realize, there are ways to win this war and then there is the slow financial drain that seems never ending.  I frequently get the question…”how do we stop this!?!”  So without pointing fingers or naming names I will give you the top three reasons your bed bug problem is never-ending:

1. You did not hit it hard enough and fast enough at its on-set

Do you remember the first time you got that bed bug call?  You did not know what they were, maybe even your pest guy couldn’t identify them.  So he “put something down to kill them” and went about his merry way.  Then a month later, you got the second call and then the rest is history.

Bed bugs require an expert that fully understands the insect and is dedicated to extermination, not just control.  An expert will not be inexpensive, but they will get the job done correctly the first time and will take every precaution to prevent spreading.  Think of it like your car, if you invest in a reliable car, you save money in the long run on maintenance.  If you go with the cheap option on the front end, you will pay much more in the long run to fix it.

Time is your enemy with bed bugs.  They reproduce exponentially and they love to travel for a good meal.  A fertilized female can create a 700 bug and 1000+ egg colony in under 90 days.  You have to be looking for bed bugs to catch them early enough to protect your other units.  Frequent bed bug K9 inspections are essential to staying in-front of the issue.  Then once you find it, treat the unit ASAP.

2. You are letting your pest control provider spread the insects with pesticide

EVERY pest control provider knows that bed bugs run from pesticides.  It is not a disputed fact anymore, it is common knowledge (that is why they recommend treating surrounding units that are not infested).  This is especially important in multifamily when every unit adjoins with others on either side or above and below.  If you want to stop the spreading find a provider that treats with heat and ONLY heat.

3. You are assuming your residents will comply with their part of the bargain.

Every resident must have a vested interest in the success of their bed bug treatment.  It is critical that they understand that an active infestation in their unit will cause others to suffer.  We always recommend the following:

  1. Have the resident physically SIGN OFF stating that they have received their treatment preparation sheet, they understand what to do, and that they agree to do it by the stated treatment date. Have financial penalties for non-compliance.
  2. Always include a bed bug addendum in your lease outlining penalties for lack of notification or self-treatment of bed bugs.

So what to do now?  You may be thinking…”I do some of these, but not all”.  Then get on it!  Hit it hard and fast with an expert who won’t spread bed bugs with pesticide and institute methods with your residents to ensure the success of the treatments.  It will cost you more up front, but not in the long run.  Think about it this way: If you won’t spend the funds to do it right the first time, what makes you think you will want to spend them for the second and a third time, and a fourth, (you get the picture).

 

May the Heat be With You!

Ashley, Atlanta Bed Bug Control Specialist

Bed Bug Sterilization – What does that mean?

Usually when people are asking for Bed Bug Sterilization they are referring to extermination.  Red Coat Services will exterminate your bed bugs quickly and effectively with full room heat.  RCS will also sterilize your home at the same time.

What many do not realize is that while bed bugs are not vectors of disease (per the CDC) they are indeed carriers of disease.  Which means that even though the pathogen is inside the bug, the bug cannot transmit it to you.  In general, we can assume that any blood borne pathogen that is carried by human blood exists inside the bed bug and often times their feces for an unknown period of time.  Some homeowners are concerned that there might be some kind of residual long-term concern with dead bed bugs and dried blood drops (feces) in their home.  This is understandable.  However, if you are utilizing full room heat remediation to exterminate your bed bug problem you are also sterilizing your home from those lasting pathogens.  You cannot say the same for chemical treatments.

So in summary, sterilization can be achieved by heat remediation/extermination.

May the Heat Be With You!

Ashley, Atlanta Bed Bug Control Specialist

Bed Bugs on the Ceiling?

Bed Bugs on Ceiling

Bed Bugs on Ceiling

When inspecting a residence, rental or owned, and I find bed bugs on the ceiling or in the ceiling groves (the crack where the ceiling meets the wall) I can immediately assume the individual has been self treating with a bug bomb or over-the-counter pesticide.  What they may or may not realize is that they have forced the insects in to harder to reach places and made their problem worse.My next assumption is that the insects are now living in all the areas that people choose not to treat because they don’t want pesticide there.  This would include their clothes – both hanging and folded, electronics like computers, clocks, tv’s, as well as the ventilation system of their home.  I have personally seen a full harborage living vertically on a dress hung in a womans closet.  This means she was likely wearing the insects in her clothes and unknowingly transferring them to friends and family.  Most electronics in our lives are placed close to the bed on a frequent basis.  They are warm inside and offer a protective cover for the bed bugs.   If bed bugs get into a ventilation system then they can move between rooms all while hiding behind grates. These insects will live just about anywhere except on glass or porcelain.

Bed Bugs behind Window Blinds

Bed Bugs behind Window Blinds

Unfortunately for the person in this situation 100% extermination of the bed bug in their home is close to impossible without a full heat treatment or merely walking away from everything they own.  My recommendation is to make heat your first and only go-to for bed bug extermination.  It will not push bed bugs throughout your home and it will resolve the problem in one day.

May the heat be with you!

Ashley, Bed Bug Control Specialist

Why are there bed bugs in my clothes?!?

This question has come across my desk multiple times this past year.  A client either finds bugs on their person during the day or they find bed bugs in their closet among their clothes.

Typically bed bugs don’t like to live in the clothes you are wearing.  They don’t like a great deal of movement on a day-to-day basis.  They will hitchhike when hungry or looking for a new home, but they generally prefer dark cryptic stable locations for their harborage.

In all of these situations the client had previously treated their home with pesticide or with dust.  The chemical became a massive repellant to the bed bug and they merely found a new place to live that was not contaminated.  The closet is often close by to the bedroom and bed and the clothes are rarely treated with chemicals.  This creates a perfect scenario for the bed bug.  They get an occasional meal and transportation out of the poison that you laid for them.

This means you are likely taking the bugs to work with you as well as your friend’s house etc.  So what to do?  Stop spraying bed bugs!  The clothes can be run through the dryer on high for about 45 minutes.  Then wash and dry them again to remove the dead bugs.  However, if they have found your closet they have also found all the other hiding places that chemicals did not reach the first time.  A whole room heat treatment is really the only option to stop them completely.

May the heat be with you!

Ashley, Atlanta Bed Bug Control Specialist

Bed bug treatments for electronics

One of my former posts about bed bugs in a laptop has drawn a lot of attention.  It has occurred to me that there is not a great deal of information on treating electronic items.  So if you have bed bugs in electronic items you have a couple of options…(in my order of preference)

1) Whole Room Heat – if you are having your home heat-treated by a bed bug specialist, then leave everything behind.  The TV, clocks, computers, laptops etc can be effectively treated with properly executed electric heat. Most devices are vetted for 150 degrees, but don’t take my word for it, check out your owner’s manual.  Please note, it is highly likely that you will have dead bugs remaining in your device.  It will need to be cleaned properly following a treatment.

2) Container Heat – if you have access to a PackTite® heating device this is very effective too.  You may not be able to fit the TV inside it, but most other small devices will fit.  Proper cleaning following the heat will be required here too.

3) Chemical – do not spray your device with liquid or dust pesticide!  Find an air tight bag that will fit the item.  Most home improvement stores or Bed, Bath & Beyond will have massive zip bags that you can use.  Then find Nuvan® strips and place them in the bag with the electronic item.  Follow the directions on the label for length of time and amount etc.  These strips release a vapor that will permeate the cracks and crevices of the item.  But these strips are not for use in open air spaces or around people – ineffective and dangerous.  Depending on your state laws, you may have to purchase these from a licensed pest control professional.

4) Trash it – if you have tried these three methods without success then you can toss it.  But know that the prior three options are all very good ones.

May the heat be with you!

Ashley, Atlanta Bed Bug Control Specialist

Heat Benefits Large Multifamily Bed Bug Problems

Just imagine, you own a large apartment complex that is infested with bed bugs.  No matter the reason for the infestation, and for arguments sake, lets assume that you were surprised by this new development.  What should you do, how and why???  Here are some advantages and disadvantages of your possible options.  You know me, I recommend the heat – more bang for your buck and it solves the problem, it is not just a band-aid.

May the Heat Be With You!

Ashley, Atlanta Bed Bug Control Specialist

Option 1: Chemical Treatment

Advantages:

  1. Less expensive than other treatments
  2. Any licensed pest control provider can do it
  3. Shows that you are attempting to treat the problem

Disadvantages:

  1. Less effective than other treatments, will require multiple applications per unit infested.
  2. No guarantee of extermination. It will control the population but it will not stop it.
  3. Spraying causes bed bugs to migrate, expanding your population and your clean up costs.  For any hope of decreasing populations all surrounding units must be treated as well as the infested one. Therefore more costly than anticipated.
  4. Will cause bed bug hibernation and dormancy, they will hide till the chemicals have dissipated and then return.  This can occur many months later.
  5. Requires large effort on part of resident to treat personal belongings appropriately. Surprisingly some people don’t care that they are living with bed bugs.  Therefore they wont be as diligent in their unit preparation and may not even do it at all.  This will increase your failure rate.
  6. Chemical applications typically miss eggs and nymphs.  This requires frequent re-treats which will nullify the economic value of the less expensive option.
  7. Even low toxicity chemicals can be harmful to “at risk” populations like the elderly and infants. You may need to provide alternate locations for families to stay while the chemical treatment is taking place.

Option 2: Whole Room Heat Treatment

Advantages:

  1. More effective than chemical, can usually be effectively completed in one treatment
  2. Does not scatter bugs or send them into hibernation
  3. Heat permeates all furniture so there are no escapees and you don’t have to replace the furniture
  4. Treatment is safe to all walks of life (except the bed bug and other insects caught in the heat)
  5. Requires less resident preparation of the unit than chemical treatments.  They need to remove aerosols and firearms but the list is short.

Disadvantages:

  1. More expensive than chemical
  2. Requires a licensed pest control professional that specializes in bed bug extermination with safe and approved equipment, so not everyone can do it.

Option 3: Fumigation

Advantage:

  1. Fumigation chemical (vikane) is very effective against all stages of bed bugs (typically used against termites)
  2. Can complete large units in single treatment

Disadvantages:

  1. Expensive! (Usually over 10K)
  2. Requires full tenting of home or apartment building
  3. Requires a specially licensed pest control professional to perform work

CDC Recommends Heat to Kill Bed Bugs

The CDC released their weekly report on Friday September 23rd with this title: Acute Illnesses Associated With Insecticides Used to Control Bed Bugs — Seven States, 2003–2010.  The report details a variety of problems that have occurred from the miss-use of pesticides to kill bed bugs.  The errors range from over application to untrained application to just plain old not following the instructions.  The stories are sad because I understand what these people are going through.  They just want the bugs gone and their life back.  But pesticides are not the answer.

The CDC actually states in their report that “CDC and EPA promote integrated pest management (IPM) for bed bug control. IPM is an effective pest control method that uses information on the life cycle of the pest and incorporates non-chemical and chemical methods. Non-chemical methods to effectively control bed bugs include heating infested rooms to 118°F (48°C) for 1 hour.”

Finally!  Validation for what I have been talking about! Heat is the best method to kill bed bugs.  Now I will say, I disagree on their temperature and time period, it is low on both accounts.  But that is addressed in a different blog.

May the heat be with you!

Ashley, Atlanta Bed Bug Control Specialist