This is the final post of a 3-part series on bed bugs. The first feature focused on identification of bedbugs; the second feature focuses on treatment of bed bugs. This feature will focus on prevention.
We have reviewed how to identify these teensy creatures, and how to treat for them. But how do we prevent from carrying these into our home?
First, be aware of your surroundings. In your own home, clean, clean, clean. Vacuum (using brush attachments) rugs, floors, under beds, around bed legs, bed frames, and cracks and crevices in the room.
In a hotel or if you are visiting a friend, do not put your luggage or any other item on the bed until you have checked the linens, headboard and mattress for bedbugs. These tiny parasites are capable of penetrating virtually any kind of luggage, including backpacks, suitcases, clothing articles and even electronic appliances. As we noted in previous blog posts, bedbugs can live for a year without feeding but they normally try to feed every five to ten days. In cold weather, bedbugs can live for about a year; at temperatures more conducive to activity and feeding, about 5 months.
If you have guests who visit your home, use a mattress encasement (available from allergy supply companies) so bedbugs cannot make their home in your home. Immediately do a thorough cleaning after your guest has left – the bedroom, bathroom, and even the common areas in your home.
Other prevention techniques are provided by the EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs:
- Frequently wash and heat-dry your bed linens, bed spreads, and clothing that touches the floor. Bed bugs can easily hide in laundry and hampers.
- If you are throwing out a pieces of furniture infested with bedbugs, take steps to destroy the item so no one else adopts them.
- If you are purchasing a used piece of furniture, carefully inspect that pieces to ensure there are no bedbugs before bringing it into your home.
- Regardless if you checked baggage, inspect your luggage when you return home. Do not bring the luggage into your home until you have thoroughly inspected it. Even items you put under the seat in front of you can pick up a hitchhiker.
An outstanding way to remember what to do is to follow this advice from https://www.bed-bug.org/bed-bugs-prevention-tips/:
To prevent bed bugs, we recommend using the acronym - S.L.E.E.P.
- Survey the area for signs of bed bug infestations, such as red or dark brown spots on bed sheets.
- Lift the mattress, and other furniture items to look for bed bug hiding places.
- Elevate all luggage and personal items. Use racks to keep these items away from carpets and beds.
- Examine all luggage and personal items before returning home to prevent bed bug migration.
- Professional extermination service are available in the event of a bed bug infestation.
As a reminder for when you do return home, the website also states, “It is crucial to make sure all luggage is placed in an area where bed bugs cannot access it. Many people place their luggage in the bathroom, or on an elevated shelf away from the bed. There are also luggage bags made especially for this purpose, and one can even temporarily store luggage in a large contractor or trash bag as well. Regardless of the chosen method, it is imperative to prevent the spread of bed bugs.” If you get home with infested luggage, burn it. Wash your clothes in hot water and heat-dry your clothing.
Remember, you want to do everything you can to prevent a bedbug infestation. That requires you to have a keen eye when traveling and visiting friends.
Suzanne Coleman is a Risk Control Consultant for Westfield Insurance, operating out of the Nashville, Tennessee service office. Prior to joining Westfield Insurance 5 years ago, Suzanne worked for a large national carrier in their National Risks division. Suzanne specializes in Workers’ Compensation and Fleet Safety, and is currently an authorized Outreach trainer for the OSHA 10 and 30 hour General Industry courses.
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