In recent months, Paris has had a very unsavory problem. Videos circulating on social media have shown bed bugs crawling across seats on trains and buses. They have been spotted in restaurants, hotels and even at Charles-de-Gaulle Airport. However, such outbreaks are not just a problem for the French. Bed bugs have also hitched a ride to the U.K. -- pest control company Rentokil saw a 65% jump in cases during the second quarter of 2023, compared with a year earlier, sparking fears of international infestation.
Can bed bugs be prevented from invading a commercial place of business? In short: no. Bed bugs are opportunistic, non-discriminatory and – worst of all – stealthy. They will find a way to get into unprotected buildings where necessary precautions have been neglected and where the right environment for infestation exists.
Because one cannot prevent bed bugs from infesting a place of business, the best course of action is early recognition and control. Implementing strict policies and procedures and best practices can prevent unnecessary customer complaints, eradication costs and business interruption. They can also protect the business’s brand and reputation.
See also: Top Causes of Business Insurance Loss
In a new risk bulletin, Bed bugs: risk tips for avoiding infestations, Allianz Commercial outlines several dos and don’ts for helping to control and mitigate the impact of bed bug infestations, particularly in the hospitality sector. Important risk mitigation tips and control measures to consider include:
- Offer a refresher training for recognition and control to staff prior to peak bed bug season (summer)
- Implement focused inspections by housekeepers during room change-out periods to include baseboards, mattresses, pillows, etc.
- Encase mattresses and box springs with a cover
- Establish a referral/retention relationship with a local licensed, insured and reputable pest control company to respond to bed bug incidents. Include inspecting the adjacent rooms, as well as those above and below the infected unit
- Include K9 inspections (with dogs trained to sniff out bed bugs)
- Use garment steamers to treat luggage and clothing that may become contaminated with bed bugs
- Initiate procedures and protocol to have all the right tools on hand that can prevent guests from spreading bed bugs
- Use a trained response team who have high-resolution cameras and other tools, including clear tape to collect suspected bed bugs and physical signs (e.g. hatchlings and excrement) for validation
- Establish public relations protocols, referring all media inquiries to your corporate office. Unauthorized staff should never respond to media requests.
Bed bug basics – three things to know
- They are small, parasitic insects that feed on the blood of people and animals. Found worldwide, they can withstand temperatures from around 32°F (0°C) to 122°F (50°C).
- They typically hide in the seams of mattresses, bed frames, headboards and dressers and even behind wallpaper – in any small opening that is available. One of the first things you should do while traveling is to check your sleeping area thoroughly for bed bugs or signs that they are around (e.g., excrement).
- Typically, they are nocturnal, coming out at night from their hiding places and traveling up to 20 feet, to where they can reach a human or animal for a blood meal.
For additional information, download the Allianz Commercial risk bulletin, Bed bugs: risk tips for avoiding infestations, which also includes a dos and don’ts checklist for responding to guest or customer complaints.