WVLT News reported this week about a Union County school that was dealing with a bed bug problem. The school sent home a letter informing parents of the problem, but there were no precaution measures listed to help parents prevent bed bugs from getting into their homes.
Bed bugs are often called ‘hitchhikers’ and they will find their way onto your clothes or bags and get carried back to your home. There is not any shame in getting bed bugs, they happen. The problem arises if they are ignored because getting rid of them can be a costly and exhaustive process. Being aware and preventative will save you a lot of stress and money.
She says, “I use Google to tell me how to prevent it from coming into our house, coming in, taking their clothes off, sending them straight to the shower everyday, I wash their clothes in hot water to get rid of anything that possibly could be on them.”
There is great information out there about treating and preventing bed bugs. But be certain you are being thorough in your research. This mom is making a mistake by washing clothes in hot water. Yes, heat is the great equalizer in killing off bed bugs, but the problem is that washer water temperatures do not get hot enough to kill the bugs. It only introduces the bugs to your washer (and then clothes).
1. Put clothes and other items in the dryer for at least 30 minutes on high heat. The dryer gets clothes to higher temperature than water and can kill off the bugs in the process. If you have a steamer for clothes then you can use that as well on clothes, backpacks, even school materials if needed.
2. Store suspected items (that cannot be washed) in the bathtub. Bed bugs are not the greatest of climbers when it comes to plastics & ceramic. Normally we say store your luggage in the tub or bathroom when traveling to keep potential bugs off them. This is a bit on the inverse side. They will have trouble getting out. It is not a full-proof practice, if there is a shower curtain or towel they can get to then they will use that to move around and find a new host to feed on.
3. Vacuum and dispense all the waste immediately. Vacuuming is one of those great pest control practices you can do at home. If they are in your home (and haven’t had a chance to get infested in the crazy nooks and crannies) then vacuuming and throwing out the waste can help to put up another line of defense.
4. Call for an inspection. If you have done these practices a few times and you are still worried that bed bugs might have gotten into your home then call an experience pest professional in bed bugs (we happen to be a good option there) or a bed bug dog to do a thorough inspection of your home.
“It’s just something that I never thought I’d have to worry about, my kids are clean kids, I don’t think I should have to worry about this,” says the mom.
The mother says she received the letter on Friday. According to Graham, the backpacks affected were treated over the weekend before allowing students to take them home. Exterminators were back on campus Tuesday and found no sign of bed bugs.
Unfortunately the bed bug will be a present reality for our school systems (elementary, middle, high school, college) for years to come. Preventing bed bugs from coming home from school can save you time, money and stress putting a plan into action. Even with regular prevention one can slip through the cracks (literally) and get into your home. You’ve done nothing wrong, unless you ignore the potential problem.