Hope is not a strategy, when it comes to bed bugs

As National Emergency Preparedness Month comes to a close this Friday, I can’t help but wonder how many emergency plans were reviewed, updated, and implemented this September by property managers, and their tenants. Like many of you, I have recently received email newsletters from real estate management associations promoting building safety plans, human health and safety plans, and even power outage plans.

Unfortunately, our company experienced our own emergency only a few weeks ago at our headquarters in Chicago Ridge, IL when lighting struck the area. This lightning strike caused costly damage and downtime for our servers, phone systems, and internet infrastructure, in addition to more than 24-hours of power loss to our facility. This event proved to be challenging for our team, which also exposed some issues that we were not immediately prepared for. However, through this experience we have created a more comprehensive power outage plan to handle similar situations in the future. Lightning will strike again, the power will go out, and we will have to implement our plan.

 What is your Bed Bug Emergency Plan?

That said, I’m curious to know how many commercial property managers are truly prepared for a different kind of emergency: bed bugs in your office or medical office building, industrial warehouse or retail center. My guess is that commercial managers in the Chicagoland area may be thinking, “I don’t manage hotels or multi-family properties, so this is not something I need to worry about.” I get it…there are so many other important issues wrestling for your time, such as tenant renewals, 2017 budgets, or a pending sale of your property.

However, if you’ve been watching the Chicago news over the last 72 hours you might have heard Bedbugs Reported on CTA Red Line train and the Chicago Water Department Trucks Infested With Bedbugs, City Workers Say. The threat of bed bugs in the Chicagoland area is real and we can report that we are receiving requests for canine bed bug inspections from more non-traditional property environments each and every day.   

Yes, we still receive calls from hotels, apartment’s buildings and condos on a daily basis. However, in just the last 90 days, we have inspected and confirmed alerts for bed bugs in call-centers in office buildings in both Chicago and the suburbs, on a conveyor belt in an manufacturing plant in the south suburbs, on clothing racks in a retail store in Chicago, in the bookdrop at a library in central Illinois, a senior living home in the south suburbs, a public elementary school teachers’ lounge in the west suburbs, a private school in Chicago, and the list keeps on growing. 

Chicago Ranked #1 Bed Bug City 4

Until Chicagoland embraces comprehensive bed bug education and proactive canine bed bug inspections we will continue to earn the #1 ranking on the Top 50 Bed Bug Cities report a possible 5th year in a row in 2016. Where is New York City on the list you ask? They were #4 last year and the have dropped as low as #16 over the last five years. How have they made such progress in a city more than three times our size? 1. Education 2. Canine bed bug inspections 3. Working with qualified pest control operators that understand how to treat bed bugs.

The fact is that bed bugs are not going away anytime soon. However, there are steps you can take to ensure you are doing everything you can to protect your employees, your tenants, and the reputation of your property from bed bug infestations. Consider creating a “Bed Bug Emergency Plan” that you can have ready if and when this issue arises at a property that you manage. Better yet, find out if your current tenant mix has high risk factors warranting a proactive approach before these two little words "BED BUGS" cause an emergency for you and your team.

Click Here to learn more about high risk factors for bed bugs or how to create a Proactive or Emergency Bed Bug Plan.