Moving without bedbugs and customer language barriers

Several years ago I established a partnership with a local nonprofit group that assists newcomers with adjusting to life in Canada. The non profit deliberately hired a wide variety of employees with a range of language capabilities to facilitate their work so I thought we could partner effectively with translation. Moving without bed bugs actually requires a fair bit of knowledge and prevention to be effective over the long term.

The newcomers are often housed in public housing filled with bed bugs. When a family wants to move out of public housing I request that they attend an information workshop, in their own language, about bed bugs. Information includes warnings about visiting (or accepting visitors) from homes known to have bed bugs, dangers of used furniture, sterilizing clothing after spending time in infested areas, knowing what can or can not be heat sterilised, etc. There really is no point to heat sterilizing a load of furniture unless future infestations can be avoided.

My hope is that the information workshops will make bed bug information universal in our community so that the shame / fear factors are lessened. If everyone understands the risks of, for example, sitting on a friend’s infested couch, everyone can take prevention measures. And if one person does not comply with the protocols social pressure can be placed on that family to ensure compliance. We don’t all have to live at the lowest common denominator.

Unfortunately there is still value to having an experienced exterminator tour a home to determine a course of action. We do this with the non profit group’s translator. For example if the home is lightly infested and the tenant has not made any chemical self treatments the television and other electronics are very unlikely to be infested. All these items can then be moved directly to the new home without heating. On the other hand if the family has struggled with the bugs for a long time and/or self treated with chemicals the electronics are much more likely to be infested. These items must now be sterilized.

As the families spend more time in Canada they become less dependent on the non profit for information. I find these families are the most difficult to assist. The language barrier issues are still present to various degrees and are unwilling to take the workshop on bed bugs. These folks may have a fair bit of experience with bed bugs (knowing their preferred substrates, etc) but still do not grasp the full scope of bed bug behaviour. I find these customers frustrating as they are less likely to listen to suggestions. For example a customer called me and said he used to have bed bugs but wanted to move knowing for sure that there would be no bugs. “No problem” I said. I went to the home and determined they had a long term active infestation that started about a year ago with many landlord self treatments. Sigh! I gave the requisite warnings of the risks but the family was reluctant to listen as it would entail more costs. I was not sure if it was a language issue or a financial issue that caused the reluctance. But if the family does not follow my suggestions the likelihood of failure is high. And they still have not grasped the dangers of the bugs that have been transferred from their suite to other areas such as work places and friends homes. Sigh! And I will be blamed when it fails. These types of jobs give me the urge to recommend my competitor’s service.

Previous Post

Bed sized bug trap – an evaluation

Next Post

Dragnet (pemethrin) and Tempo (cyfluthrin) – advantages and disadvantages