Bed bugs are hard to prevent because of their small size, night habits, and ability to hitchhike. Here are some tips to get you started:
Bed bugs are excellent hitchhikers. They can easily move from an infested building to a new site as people move. The recent resurgence of bed bugs is due in large part to international travel. Bed bugs hitchhike on luggage or on personal items or clothing and can move from one country to another in a very short period of time. Within a community, bed bugs can spread when people move infested possessions into a new apartment or home. Purchasing infested, second-hand beds or other furniture has been shown to accelerate local outbreaks of bed bugs. Once inside a building bed bugs can move between rooms or apartments by walking or crawling via hallways, or by squeezing through tiny cracks in common walls, ceilings, or utility ports.
The most valuable form of home protection is becoming aware of the threat of bed bugs. Understand where and how they travel. Know what they look like and how to inspect for them. Be very careful about purchasing or bringing home second-hand upholstered furniture and clothing. Always closely inspect items for signs of infestation. Launder any items that can be laundered in hot soapy water and dry with hot air. Bed bugs will not survive this regime. Make vacuuming, cleaning, decluttering and inspecting a regular habit. Steam or heat treatments must be applied to anything that is suspect, before it enters the house.
Be alert and aware when travelling. If you suspect bed bug infestations, use common sense and what you know about bed bugs to help avoid bringing them home with you. Inspect your hotel room for signs of an infestation BEFORE you move your belongings in. Some travelers will place their luggage in the bathtub or on a wooden chair or desk rather than on a bed while they perform this inspection. Carefully inspect the mattress seams, headboard, and furniture around the bed for fecal specks, cast skins, or live bed bugs. If bed bugs or signs of bed bugs are found, immediately report this to the registration desk and ask for a different room. When returning home, carefully check luggage seams and clothing for any signs of bed bugs before bringing it into your home. Clothing can be immediately washed and dried to ensure that no bed bugs will hitchhike on it. If other possessions and luggage are found to have bed bugs on it, do not take them into the home. Arrange for heat or other reliable treatment of the articles in question.
Remember the old addage ‘an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.’ This has never been more true than in our battle with bed bugs. Avoiding them in the first place is the best prevention.
When checking into a hotel ask if bed bugs have been found there or if treatments for bed bugs have occurred.
Once at your room, do not put your luggage, coat or personal belongings on the bed. Rather use luggage racks, table tops, leave at front door/hall, or place in bathtub upon entry.
Thoroughly inspect the room before unpacking.
If you suspect a bed bug infestation, contact the management – ask to be moved and not just next door.
Remember that providing an opportunity for a hitch-hiking bed bug to move from bed to bed, is the most likely route of re-infestation.
When you return home from an infested residence, thoroughly inspect and vacuum your suitcases, purses, hand bags and any other goods that have been with you before bringing them into the house.
Place all of your clothing in sealable plastic bags and take them directly to the laundry. Wash all your clothes (whether used during the trip or not ) in hot soapy water and dry in a clothes dryer set on high heat. This includes the clothes that you are wearing. Strip at the door and place your clothing in a plastic bag.
Use a large plastic bag to contain your luggage and store in an area not commonly used (garage or storage closet) – not under bed or even in your bedroom.
Shoes and other non-washable items can be placed in a box or bag and then moved to a freezer or ‘pack-tite’ for temperature treatments.