Bed Bug treatments need to be safe, thorough, and effective. One method of treating bed bugs, thermal or radiant heat, fails on at least one of these essential metrics. Bed bug victims should avoid this dangerous approach to resolving bed bugs.
Why do we say this now, and again and again? Because late last week we saw the news of the latest fire caused by a bed bug heat treatment performed with a professional heating unit.
The fire department warned that the heaters not only cause the risk of an electrical fire at the time of treatment, they also can affect the safety and performance of sprinkler systems after these treatments are performed.
Bedbug heater tied to West Des Moines blaze
The Des Moines Register 11:11 p.m. CST November 13, 2014
Bedbug heater tied to blaze
A bedbug treatment heater caused a fire at an apartment on Des Moines’ west side two weeks ago, according to officials with the Des Moines Fire Department.
The fire department this week issued a news release to warn about the potential hazards of using the specialized heating units.
Fire officials said the heat treatment method for bedbugs, which involves heating a room to at least 130 degrees for more than four hours, can damage smoke detectors and fire alarms.
A fire at 1135 28th St. caused about $30,000 in damage Oct. 31 when an industrial-sized heating unit was left unattended in a vacant apartment unit, said Des Moines Fire Department spokesman Brian O’Keefe. He said the source of the fire was likely an extension cord, an electrical outlet or an air duct beside the heating unit.
Fire officials said the heating units, which commercial pest control companies often use, should always be monitored while in use and cautioned users to check the power load of electrical units. Otherwise the machines can overload electrical breakers and cause a fire.
“It can be done safely. But we recommend that (the operator) stay on the site,” O’Keefe said.
He said the manager or owner of the apartment building was using a very large heater and not on site when the fire occurred.
Firefighters extinguished the fire before it spread throughout the entire apartment unit or two other units in a converted home. O’Keefe said it could have been much worse if the apartment unit had been occupied and furnished.
The news release from the fire department cautioned against the heating method in spaces with sprinkler systems because prolonged exposure to high temperatures can shorten their lifespan.
“The day-to-day long term effect for exposure is only tested between 40 and 100 degrees,” O’Keefe said.