Action News 6 in Philadelphia reports that around a hundred senior citizens have been evacuated from the Coatsville Towers apartment building in downtown Philly because of a bed bug infestation.
Every resident has been moved out — some to stay with relatives, and 23 more were evacuated to a Norrisville apartment building by their management company (AIMCO) — during pest control treatment.*
The good news is that the entire building is being treated using thermal heat. Done properly by professionals who know what they’re doing, thermal heat should entirely eliminate the problem of bed bugs in this building.
There’s one catch: thermal has no residual. And bed bugs can potentially return in one of two ways:
- Whoever or whatever brought bed bugs in the first time can do so again. Put another way, anyone can be exposed to bed bugs at any time.
- Any of the residents may have potentially moved bed bugs with them and may have infested the place they stayed temporaily; they might even bring the bed bugs back again to the building when they return home.
This is not a reason not to use thermal methods: these things are true of all treatment methods to some degree. I think treatments that get rid of bed bugs in one shot are to be preferred for many reasons, and I love to see landlords consider them.
However, these possibilities are a reason to make sure residents understand the need to take precautions when returning to their homes, including laundering and carefully inspecting items. Residents and relatives who hosted them should be educated about the signs of bed bugs. Residents also need to know how to avoid bringing bed bugs home in future.
Frankly, if I were heat treating a building, I’d spring for a hot truck to bake any stuff people took out, before they evacuated. That, coupled with some bagged laundry and a good shower, could ensure the problem is cleared — at least for a good while — and ensure as well that family members or other alternate lodgings are not infested.
Many of the worst reports we read about in the news are senior citizens’ apartment buildings where bed bugs are allowed to thrive and spread, with minimal or sporadic treatment. It’s tragic when anyone is forced to live with bed bugs a moment longer than they need to; when the residents are elderly or disabled, it’s really shameful. So I really am very glad to see this story.
Click here to watch the ABC 6 video or read the accompanying text.
*AIMCO had some bad press about how they allegedly handled bed bug cases in another Philly building in the past. We can’t judge them based on either of these two press mentions, but for what its worth, the Coatsville tenants interviewed in this story described suffering with bed bug bites before the treatment was implemented, and seemed quite happy with the way their management company was responding to the problem.