For our first blog topic, we thought it would be best to start off with something fairly tame. When people talk about our industry they usually focus on the trauma scenes and graphic deaths we deal with. One aspect that is overlooked by most is the animal waste and damage clean up. We disinfect and clean up after animals all the time. From animal hoarding situations, to rodent infestations, to a family of raccoons that lived in an attic, we see it all. While all situations are different, they all need to be properly disinfected because animals can carry diseases, parasites and ticks.
There are a lot of animals I could cover, but I thought I’d talk about the one we see most often, and that’s raccoons. These cute fuzzy critters can cause a lot of damage to a home, as well as pose a health risk due to their feces.
There are a few steps required when dealing with a raccoon clean-up. First and foremost is to hire an animal control specialist to remove the raccoon(s). A raccoon in the wild and a raccoon cornered in a 40°C attic are two very differently-tempered animals. If you ever have the pleasure of running into one of these guys while in the attic you have three options: back away slowly (recommended), jump through the ceiling (not recommended), or curl up in a ball and cry (what I usually do).
Once the animal(s) have been removed, the area they inhabited can now be inspected for damage and mess. Raccoons tend to sleep in a corner and use the furthest area from their “nest” as a washroom. Raccoon droppings can carry rabies and Raccoon Roundworm (Baylisascaris procyonis & B. columnaris). It is important to wear proper personal protective equipment (PPE) when treating affected areas. When dealing with a large job we like to run HEPA filters to keep airborne contaminants and allergens low.
After any affected areas have been cleaned and disinfected, an odour treatment is usually required to eliminate any lingering aromas.
Although dealing with raccoon jobs is fairly straightforward, the areas we have to work in are among the worst from a safety standpoint. Working in an attic or crawlspace is bad enough, but in the summer, the temperature in an attic can soar to 60°c and our PPE it makes it even hotter. In an ideal world, everyone would discover their raccoon infestation in December… but that’s not always the case. Sometimes it is so hot on a job that technicians can only work for 30 minutes before they need to come out to have a hydration break. These extreme cleanups tend to take longer due to the extra time required to keep our technicians hydrated and safe.
Once all of the remediation is done, it is also vital to close up any openings to the space so other animals can’t come in and take up residence. Whether a wild raccoon or a common house cat, animals can seriously damage a property and affect the well-being of its inhabitants. Keep checking back soon for a post about cats or maybe mice… We’ll do our best to announce upcoming topics, and always feel free to send us your comments or questions.