In April, I attended the Ohio Lead and Healthy Homes Conference to talk about using integrated pest management (IPM) to improve health in affordable housing. My audience was healthcare professionals who work with residents in homes and hospitals. Luckily I was presenting on the second day. After sitting through the first day’s sessions, I went back to my hotel room and threw away the majority of my presentation.
On that first day, I attended sessions on smoke-free housing, asthma, and the healthcare industry. Speakers had an hour or less to share their most pertinent knowledge and advice with colleagues. Every speaker talked about IPM. Most mentioned cockroaches, mice, and bed bugs.
I’ve been to many healthy homes conferences, but never before had my message preceded me in this way. I have always thought of a property-wide IPM program as an opportunity to promote all the concepts of a healthy home (dry, clean, safe, contaminant-free, ventilated, maintained, and pest-free) in a motivating way. After all, no one wants to live or work alongside pests. It was encouraging to hear people from different niches of healthy housing promoting IPM!
In throwing away most of my presentation, I had more than 30 minutes to answer questions from my audience. I don’t regret the decision. With my prepared presentation, I demystified IPM by defining it as a step-by-step process for solving any pest problem; acknowledged the complications that may arise in the real world; and made sure everyone knew how he or she could get the StopPests in Housing Program to work with affordable housing communities. Then I opened up the floor to questions.
I got more material for our Frequently Asked Questions and was able to get my audience members the advice they needed to go out the next day and improve lives through IPM.
I want to share three IPM resources that the audience found particularly useful:
- The ever-popular Clutter Image Rating Scale
- A OneTouch template that we’ve just developed and started to use with the housing agencies we’re working with. This template is to be filled out at a local-level and carried by anyone who goes in homes on a regular basis. These home visitors have the opportunity to touch the lives of a resident and make referrals (using the numbers on the form) to get the resident the help they may need. For more on the OneTouch concept, see Tohn Environmental Strategies’ guidance.
- Dr. Dearborn of Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine said that the #1 hazard that home-visiting health workers encounter is an inactive smoke detector. The audience of my talk was very interested in the blog post and sample newsletter article I did on pests in smoke detectors.
One of the main themes of the conference was asthma.
Today is the first day of Asthma Awareness Month! In the spirit of synergy, the StopPests in Housing Program will be focusing on asthma resources throughout the month. As the Ohio Lead and Healthy Homes Conference demonstrated, IPM is integral to most asthma management plans. Keep an eye on our social media twitter (#AsthmaMonth), facebook, and this blog for more resources and advice on how communities can come together to create homes that are healthy for people, but not for pests.