Hurricanes and the conditions that follow, including flooding and scattered debris, can create safety hazards and situations that are conducive to pest infestations. The following hurricane pest control tips may be useful to you and your customers who are engaged in hurricane and flooding clean up and recovery efforts.
- Many pests, including snakes, fire ant colonies, rodents, and more, can be present in flood waters.
- Flood waters may contain human waste, chemicals, fuels, or other substances that can be harmful to humans.
- Use extreme caution if working in any flooded area. Wear personal protective equipment whenever possible.
- Fire ants can relocate by floating during flooding. If you spy a fire ant raft, do not attempt to treat it with pesticides, which can further contaminate flood waters.
- Mosquitoes will be highly active in the days and weeks following a hurricane, and could spread diseases such as West Nile virus and Zika virus.
- Wear insect repellents during cleanup efforts. Apply repellent to both exposed skin and clothing. Reapply as necessary, especially if working in water or sweating.
- To be most effective, insect repellents should contain DEET, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus. Look for EPA approval on the container.
- Wear long sleeves, long pants, and socks, especially if you are outside from dusk to dawn.
- Mosquitoes are most active in the hours from dusk to dawn. Take extra precautions if you’re outside during this time.
General Structural and Sanitation Tips Related to Pests
- Remove and discard saturated carpets.
- Repair any structural damage as soon as possible. Holes, gaps and weakened structures can provide opportunities for pests to enter your facility.
- As much as possible, remove standing water.
- Remove all debris from exterior areas. Pests will look for opportunities and may make their home or build nests in piles of debris, including leaves, branches, and fallen trees.
- Excess moisture can cause mold problems, which can be a health hazard and also attract pests. You may want to speak with a mold remediation company.
- Clean out gutters and ensure they are free-flowing.
- Clear debris from storm drains to allow water to flow freely.
- Keep trash and debris at a distance from your home, as this can attract pests and wildlife.
- Repair or replace screens that may have been damaged by flying debris.
- Screens can keep insects out.
Insurance Claims for Termite Work
- Heavy rains and flooding can disrupt the soil where termites are active, and relocate termites to new areas.
- Moisture can make structures more attractive to termites, even those not prone to termite activity previously.
- Standing water floods for short periods of time will not usually disrupt the barrier, but flooding with swift moving water may require re-treatment.
- By law, a re-treatment for subterranean termites can only be performed if there is clear evidence of re-infestation or disruption of the barrier “due to construction, excavation, or landscaping and/or evidence of the breakdown of the termiticide barrier in the soil.”
- If a customer has had termite work performed on their home recently, a re-treatment may need to be conducted. The cost of this work can potentially be covered if filed as part of an insurance claim.
- Before conducting a re-treatment for termites, it is recommended that you perform a re-inspection first to determine if the barrier has been disrupted.
- Post-flooding termite treatment may be covered under the customer’s insurance policy, even if they have not previously received treatment. Suggest they check their policy and file a claim if necessary.
Beyond Pest Control Services
- Consider providing your customers with products for disinfection of flooded areas, mold remediation if you are equipped or odor remediation products.
Food Safety Concerns for Homes
- All food contact surfaces must be disinfected before use.
- Throw away porous food contact surfaces such as wooden cutting boards, baby bottle nipples and pacifiers, as well as paper napkins or paper towels.
- All plates, dishes, pots and pans, and utensils must be disinfected before use.
- The U.S. Centers for Disease Control recommends using a solution of 1 Tablespoon of household bleach (unscented) in 1 gallon of clean water to disinfect these surfaces. First wash in soapy water, rinse in clean water, and then immerse in bleach solution for 15 minutes. Allow to air dry.
- Unpackaged food exposed to flood water is not safe to eat.
- Do not use any vegetables or fruits exposed to flood water.
- Food in packaging that may have permitted flood water to enter or that has been exposed to flood waters is not safe and must be discarded; examples include flour in bags, foods such as cereals, crackers, pasta, etc. in cardboard boxes, drinks in screw cap bottles
- Canned foods that have damage to their seams, swelling or dents should be discarded.
- Cans with snap tops, pull tops and home canned foods should be discarded.
Other canned foods that are not damaged may be salvageable, but labels should be removed and cans disinfected before opening.
- The CDC recommends using 1 cup of bleach (unscented) into 5 gallons of water and putting cans in the water for 15 minutes and then allow to air dry. Re-label can with a marker.
- If power was disrupted, refrigerated food will likely have to be be discarded. If you are unsure, discard food to be safe.
- Frozen foods that have thawed to a temperature of above 41°F for more than four hours must be discarded.
- If frozen food is still below 41°F and has not been exposed to floodwater, it may be refrozen.
- If you are unsure how long a frozen food was above 41°F, discard it.
- Do not use any vegetables or fruit from gardens that have been exposed to flood waters. They cannot be used for human food.
Food Safety Concerns for Businesses
- Food businesses may face unique circumstances when assessing the ability to re-open.
Click here to download our infographic on Top 12 Post-Hurricane Tips for Commercial Businesses.
Click here to download our infographic on Top 10 Post-Hurricane Tips for Residential Homes.