Colm Moore, technical manager, at Rentokil Pest Control tells us how to combat pests within the hotel industry
How to control and spot outbreaks of pests at your hotel
“The best way to spot pest outbreaks in hotels is to make sure you and your staff remain vigilant at all times. For example, the tell-tale signs that rodents are present include smear marks, droppings, smell, damage, ripped food packaging, nests and burrows. In fact, the best way to avoid a rodent infestation is to be proactive and not let them into the premises in the first place. This means sealing any holes that are larger than a quarter of an inch (the width of a biro pen), which is big enough for mice to squeeze through. Rodents will quickly chew through all sorts of materials to create larger openings, so it is important to seal all openings with steel wool and/or cement (not wood, plastic, or expanding foam that they can gnaw through eventually or if they are very determined).
“It’s also important to note that sometimes rodents just walk in through the front door, so don’t give them an incentive to come in. Where possible, store food and food waste in glass or metal containers. Regularly clean under stoves, refrigerators and cupboards, and keep your rubbish in a strong bin with a lid.”
Why hygiene standards must be kept at a sky-high level, plus techniques and advice on deterring common pests – mice, rats, bed bugs and dust mites
“Improved levels of general cleanliness will help keep some pests away. Keeping clutter to a minimum will reduce the options for rodent nesting sites, and while good sanitation won’t get rid of mice in itself, dirty and messy areas can attract them and encourage them to become established in your premises. There are some very simple preventative measures that can be taken. For example, stacking crates and boxes away from the wall to ensure you can check what’s behind them, sealing holes in walls, ensuring all on site refuse is kept in closed bins, removing potential nesting materials and cleaning pipes and drains regularly.
“Since bed bugs usually travel on the suitcases and clothes of their hosts, it can be very hard to keep them out of your hotel. Key to control is through staff education and in knowing what to do and how to find the early stages of infestations. For example, limit their spread by keeping clean laundry away from used linen. Knowing when rooms are turned down, that dirty sheets should not be in the general vicinity of fresh linen; this will help ensure bed bugs will have less of a chance to spread.”
Focus on different areas of the hotel; what can harbour there and how outbreaks can be avoided
“Bed bugs are a huge threat to hotels. Small, dark marks on bed frames, headboards and mattresses and a distinctive, sickly sweet smell are often the first signs of their presence, before the more obvious appearance of itchy sores on their hosts appear. Educate staff to look out for the tell-tale signs and establish a proactive bed bug inspection programme. If you do have an outbreak, wash sheets and fabrics at a high temperature and do not cross-contaminate clean linen with used sheets. If the outbreak proves serious, call in the professionals; we have solutions designed to deal with large-scale infestations, such as our heat pod treatment, which is chemical-free and will kill bed bugs (including their eggs), in fabrics and furniture.
“Flies are also a pest headache for most hotel owners, due to the hygiene risks involved. Flies carry many diseases and are one of the biggest causes of food poisoning, particularly through Salmonella infection. Feeding on decaying organic waste flies transfer pathogens from their feet to human food and food preparation surfaces. It is therefore vital that hoteliers are aware of the technologies available to them, which can be used to combat these creatures.
“Rentokil’s Luminos Fly Killer range is one great example – it uses glue boards and films to capture and kill flying insects quickly and efficiently. Encapsulation products such as these are great for internal environments where flies pose a health risk. By trapping the insects you avoid the problem of insect fragments being dispersed, which can occur when using traditional electric grid fly killer units. You are also in a much better position to identify the fly as it will be intact which then tells us where the problem has originated from in the first place”