Bed bugs are a horrible and uncomfortable parasite infestation to experience. No one wants to wake up to bites in different places, knowing these pesky creatures are residing within their home and perhaps not knowing where. Bed bugs are called so because they are often found in beds, but they can also be found behind baseboards, in walls and in pieces of furniture. They can come from a number of places, such as public transportation, used furniture, visitors, luggage, etc., but it can be difficult to figure out exactly where they originated. While you can never fully predict where these pests will come from, you can be educated about how to prevent, detect and control an outbreak.
Some people are also more at risk for bed bug infestation than others, such as frequent travelers, elder care providers, and child service agents. People who are frequently entering different homes need to be aware of what they can do to detect, prevent and control beg bug infestations.
Bed Bug Detection & Prevention
Early detection and action helps to get rid of bed bugs before the problem escalates. Bed bugs like to hide in mattresses, bed frames, head boards, in labels, in fabric folds, in carpeting, under loose wallpaper, behind picture frames, in clothing stored in cool places and inside small areas such as electrical outlets and clocks. Check all crevices, behind pull out drawers and within holes for signs of bed bugs, such as small feces, blood, whitish shed skin and offensive odors. To prevent bed bugs, follow these guidelines:
- Vacuum often
- Caulk any open baseboards or crevices in the wall
- Put encasements around mattresses and box springs
- Keep bed away from wall
- Put infested items in sealed plastic bags and dry on high for 30 minutes
If you are a frequent secondhand shopper, be careful of any items you purchase and plan on bringing into the home. For example, inspect all bedding and furniture before buying for signs of bed bugs.
Frequently change and launder bedding – when removing bedding, inspect bed crevices and sides of bed for signs of bed bugs.
Reduce clutter piling up in the home. Clutter itself cannot cause a bed bug infestation, but bed bugs do like to hide in small, dark places. The more clutter, the more dark places they have to hide. In addition, clutter can also blind you from signs of bed bugs – and acting early is key to preventing an outbreak.
If you or someone you live with is a healthcare or at-home care worker, it is wise to follow certain guidelines to prevent bed bugs from traveling home with you. If there is the possibility of entering a home that has bed bugs, these precautions can help the pests from spreading. Healthcare or at-home workers should wear protective clothing and wear protective shoe booties. After leaving the home, before entering a vehicle or going home, people who have been in houses where there are bed bugs should change all clothing and put that clothing into sealed plastic bags that are then washed immediately upon returning home. If you do find bed bugs on your clothing, remove the clothing right away and inspect any surfaces you might have touched, such as a driver’s seat or trunk.
Before entering a vehicle or returning home, inspect all bags that are with you for signs of bed bugs, as well. Bugs can hide in small purses, suitcases or bags and love to travel this way. Most healthcare workers or at-home care providers do not travel without some kind of baggage. Inspect anything and everything. If bed bugs are not found but you still feel they might have travelled along with you, remove items and put into sealed bags before bringing them into your car or home.
Frequent travelers should also follow certain inspection guidelines. Frequent travelers should:
- Inspect all mattresses and headboards with a flashlight for signs of bed bugs
- Inspect all dressers and side tables for signs of bed bugs
- Inspect luggage racks and put all baggage on these
- Never put clothes on bed or a couch
- When packing to return home, seal all clothes and little items such as scarves or ties in plastic bags
- Empty plastic bags directly into washer when you return home
- Inspect luggage with flashlight before getting into your car or entering your home
If bed bugs do happen to infest your home, it is best to contact a bed bug professional to remove them. Many places advise ways to get rid of bed bugs yourselves, but at-home treatments can be dangerous, or worse – not complete the job 100%. When you hire a professional to eradicate any bed bugs in your home, you are staying away from harmful pesticides and allowing professionals to come into your home and teach you how to prevent any bugs from returning.
It is important to your health and the health of your home to contact a bed bug eradication professional that uses heat treatment. Bed bugs cannot survive in temperatures above 122ºF. Heat treatment professionals use specialized heat services to kill all bed bugs and bed bug eggs that may exist in your home. The right heat treatment professional will also instruct you on ways to prevent bed bugs in the future.