While everyone wants to protect the children in their care from pests, preventive pest control performed in places where children spend time can feel risky. Whether in a school or daycare, ants, spiders, cockroaches, mosquitoes, yellow jackets, rodents, and so many more pests can pose a risk to the health and safety of our children.
Playgrounds, classrooms, and other places where little ones play need to be kept pest-free, but foggers and other pesticides can expose children (and staff) to harmful chemicals in the air or residues left on surfaces. And because developing children’s systems are more susceptible to damage than adult systems, it is critical that we take special care to prevent pests before they infest. Finding a safer solution to school pest control starts with taking a look at what types of pests may be found in schools and what steps we can take to prevent or control them.
What Types of Pests Infest Schools and Childcare Buildings?
The lack of occupation during the summer can leave schools at particular risk of pest problems, but pests can come into school and daycare buildings all throughout the year. Pest invaders may include:
- Centipedes and millipedes
- Stink bugs
- Cicadas (periodically)
Steps to Prevent Pest Infestation in School or Daycare
General cleanliness and food hygiene are some of the simplest procedures you can perform related to daycare or school pest control and prevention.
- Store all food appropriately in tightly sealed containers, keep counters and areas around the refrigerator clean and dry, and be sure to clean out the refrigerator at least every six months
- Crumbs and spills in eating areas should be cleaned up immediately
- Toys in common areas should be stored in plastic containers that have tight-fitting lids (never use cardboard boxes)
- Bathrooms should be cleaned daily, free of mold, and leak-free
- All trash should be taken to seal-able outside bins each day
- Floors in the entire facility should be vacuumed or mopped each day
- Make sure that doors and windows close tightly. Seal crevices and cracks in any outside areas including pipes, walls, and vents
- Keep grass, trees, and shrubs around the property trimmed regularly and keep property clear of debris and weeds
Integrated Pest Management for Schools and Daycares
One of the safest and most effective forms of school pest control is through the use of an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program. This type of preventive pest control uses the least invasive method of pest control to not only eliminate current pest problems, but also keep future infestations from happening. Programs include regular inspection and monitoring, evaluations, and suggestions for control.
Several non-chemical approaches may be suggested within an IPM program, such as:
- Staff Education. Keeping employees apprised of risks can motivate them to apply preventive pest control through cleanliness and food hygiene
- Redesigning Efforts. Sometimes simple reorganization of storage facilities or daily cleaning systems can make an incredible difference in a school’s ability to keep pests away
- Maintenance Activities. Property maintenance such as caulking or landscaping may eliminate risks such as water leaks or weed habitats for pests.
- Physical Control. Traps may need to be set into place for pests such as rodents
In all cases, for schools, daycares, and other places where children are present, chemical pest control solutions should be used as a last resort. Even then, the process should begin with non-toxic chemicals that are at less risk of being harmful to humans