Bed bugs prefer spaces where people sleep and relax for extended periods of time. Close living quarters can easily spread a bed bug infestation making college dorms prime targets. If your student isn't careful, these bed bugs can even stow away on clothing or furniture and return home as an uninvited guest! Treating for bed bugs can be a great expense and a major inconvenience for a family. Bed bug prevention is key to avoiding an infestation. Follow these tips to protect your family and home from this dreaded pest:
1. Enlist the Help of Your College Student
As your college student is packing up for the school year, ask them to keep an eye out for bed bugs. See if they can search the internet to become familiar with what a bed bug looks like; see the National Pest Management website for photos. Request that they use a flashlight to examine their suitcases, including any flaps, nooks and crannies. They should also inspect sheets, mattresses, clothes and any other items they are packing away. If they believe they have discover bed bugs, students should immediately notify resident life at their school and follow their discretion for containment and treatment. Even if bed bugs are not uncovered, all items returning home with a college student should be placed in plastic bags until they can be machine washed and dried at the highest temperature that their materials can stand. Putting sheets and clothes in the dryer at the highest temperatures for at least 30 minutes will kill bed bugs and bed bug eggs on those items.
2. Launder or Closely Examine All Items While Unpacking at Home
Whether you have a responsible college student or one a bit distracted and not always cooperative, recognize that bed bugs are extremely small and capable of eluding even a trained eye. Therefore, you should take stock of the situation as unpacking begins at home.
First, thoroughly wash all sheets and clothes that your student brings home. Do not let them fit sheets onto the bed at home or put away clothes until they have been washed. Launder everything you can at the highest temperature you can, and put the clothes and sheets in the dryer to kill any bed bugs and eggs. Closely inspect everything your college student brings into the house, even textbooks and stray library books, as libraries are one common infestation site for bed bugs. When you're done, re-examine their luggage and store it away from sleeping areas, preferably in the garage, attic or basement.
3. Protect Beds with Active Mattress Liners
Ideally, your college student’s dorm bed was covered with an ActiveGuard® Mattress Liner. If not, next semester is the perfect time to start. Simply install the liner on the mattress and/or box spring, exactly like a fitted sheet, and forget it. Active liners have the capability to kill bed bugs that come into contact with them for up to two years. Fit one over your college student’s bed at home. In fact, it is best to put one on every bed in the home.
4. Investigate Unexplained Rashes, Bites or Welts
Ask your college student to take a look over his or her body for welts, rashes and skin irritations that cannot be explained. If there are signs of bed bug bites or unexplained skin irritations, your college student should visit a dermatologist. They may suggest that these are consistent with bed bug bites and prescribe medication to help with itching.
The potential presence of bed bug bites on your college student also means that you should once again inspect everything that they brought home with them. Wash what you have not already -- suitcases should be thoroughly vacuumed to remove bed bugs and their eggs.
The good news is that bed bugs likely do not spread disease. The bad news, of course, is that they are a huge pain to deal with and are difficult to get rid of, which is why you may want to enlist the help of a pest professional. No matter what, as your college student gets ready to return home, it is important to start preparing your home by covering every mattress and/or box spring with ActiveGuard® Mattress Liners. Click here to buy yours today!