OPINION: EXTENSION: Safely keep your home free of pests as the weather warms up

Apr. 19—Our homes serve as tranquil havens, offering a space to retreat and relax. It's essential to safeguard our living spaces and maintain privacy diligently. As the weather continues to warm up, the emergence of insect pests within, and around, our homes can disrupt this privacy.

To address pest infestations, some may use pesticides to restore order to their gardens, landscapes, and indoor spaces. When applying pesticides, employing smart, cautious approaches is crucial for the safety of your household.

Here are several strategies to mitigate these improper pesticide usage risks for you and your family:

—Select the appropriate pesticide: Identify the pest causing damage to ensure the ideal pesticide to use. Misusing a pesticide fails to resolve the issue, wasting resources and exposing your family to unnecessary risks. Extension offices are available to assist in accurately identifying pests and selecting the appropriate treatment.

—Adhering to pesticide label instructions: Pesticide labels carry legal authority, designed to ensure your safety. Applying a pesticide in a manner not specified could be unsafe or illegal. Additionally, certain pesticides may not be suitable for use in residential areas. You will ensure the safe and effective use of the product against pests by properly following the label's directions.

—Avoid combining pesticides with household items: Use designated equipment for pesticide application, refraining from repurposing these items for household tasks. Mix only the amount of pesticide needed for the task. Properly dispose of any leftovers without using drains or toilets.

—Wearing protective clothing: Minimize exposure to pesticides by donning appropriate gear. While specific protective equipment may be recommended on the pesticide label, wearing plastic gloves, closed shoes, socks, long pants, and long-sleeved shirts is a minimum safety standard.

—Keep away from children and pets: Ensure children and pets are not present in the area during pesticide application, adhering to label guidelines when it's safe to return. If timing is not specified, waiting until the pesticide has completely dried is a good best practice

—Thoroughly cleaning after application: Clean reusable protective gear and wash application clothing separately from other laundry. Always cleanse your skin and hands thoroughly before consuming food, drinks, or tobacco.

—Storing pesticides safely: Follow label instructions for proper storage, keeping pesticides out of reach of children and pets and in a temperature-controlled environment. Pesticides should be stored above 40 degrees Fahrenheit, while also avoiding extreme temperatures.

Adopting these practices can significantly reduce the risks associated with pesticide use, ensuring a safer environment for you and your family.

For more information on managing insect pests and correct pesticide use, contact the Laurel County office of the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service.