By Michelle Durham

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — In light of the tragic death of Dr. Melissa Ketunuti, allegedly at the hands of a local exterminator (see related story), some local experts want to make sure you know how to screen the contractors you hire so you can stay safe when you need to bring someone you don’t know into your home — particularly if you live alone.

Vern Yeager, owner and operator of Bug Busters Pest Control in Northeast Philadelphia, has been an exterminator for 37 years.

“You can hire exterminators who are members of the National Pest Management Association and the Pennsylvania Pest Management Association and get references from those sources,” he advises.

And Yeager says he doesn’t hire subcontractors.

“Most of my employees are part-time workers — police and fire,” he says.  “I don’t have to worry about drug testing them.”  And, he adds, they have criminal clearances.

Meanwhile, Lance Haver, consumer advocate for the City of Philadelphia, says references from someone you know are essential.

“What people can do is talk to their friends and neighbors,” he suggests.  “It’s a reason to join your local community group, so that you can get references.”

Haver says nothing replaces the recommendation of a trusted friend or family member.

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