Preventing Bed Bugs
Here are some useful tips for preventing bed bugs in order to avoid an infestation in your home. Nobody is immune from bed bugs. However, it’s possible to reduce the risk of infestation by following a few basic instructions.
Preventing bed bugs at home:
- Avoid bringing furniture or items abandoned by the side of the road back into your home. Bed bugs can often be found there.
- Be careful and disinfect items from another house or a store as much as possible.
- Carefully inspect anything that you bring into your home.
- If you buy second-hand clothes at a thrift shop, wash them in hot water and dry them at the hottest temperature for at least 30 minutes.
- Regularly examine your furniture and other household items, especially any cracks, folds, and tears in the fabric.
- Keep your home as clean as possible and avoid leaving clothes, toys, etc. on the floor.
- Regularly wash your bedding and clothes in hot water and dry them in the dryer at 40°C /120°F for at least 30 minutes.
- Look for any dark red, black, or brown spots on your sheets, mattresses, and bed bases, especially at the edges and in the seams. If possible, install a bed bug-proof mattress cover.
- You can protect your mattress with an anti-bed bug cover. Besides protecting the mattress from bed bug droppings, which are unsightly and allergenic, you will be able to detect them faster if they are ever present.
- You can also equip your bed legs with anti-bed bug monitors to prevent bed bugs from accessing your bed via the legs. The monitors are also traps for bed bugs that make it possible to detect their presence.
If you discover the presence of bed bugs in your home, notify your landlord immediately. The faster the infestation is handled by a professional exterminator, the faster and easier it will be to treat.
How to prevent a bed bug infestation when a neighbouring apartment is the victim of an infestation?
Unfortunately, there are no precautions that can 100% guarantee that a bed bug infestation from one home won’t spread to another. However, some precautions make it possible to limit the risks and quickly detect the presence of bed bugs. This lets you examine the infestation faster and easier if it ever occurs. Here are some of these precautions:
- Avoid staying in or going to places that are known to be infested.
- Take advantage of this opportunity to declutter your home.
- If your home is adjacent to an infested home, ask your landlord to have a preventive inspection carried out during the treatments to make sure that there are no bed bugs.
- You can protect the investment of your mattress and bed base with anti-bed bug covers. Besides protecting the mattress from bed bug droppings, which are unsightly and allergenic, you will be able to detect them better if they are ever present.
In case of the presence of bed bugs, talk to your landlord or property manager about it immediately. The faster the infestation is handled, the faster and easier it will be to correct.
How to prevent bed bug infestations after staying at a hotel?
If you have to sleep in hotels, whether as part of a vacation or your work, be careful. These are often very busy places where bed bugs can also be found:
Precautions to take against bed bugs before leaving for the hotel:
- Opt for light-coloured plastic suitcases for two reasons: Bed bugs are less attracted to this material, and the light colour makes it easier to see the unwanted insects. If you have dark-coloured or fabric suitcases, wrap them in a white, well-sealed plastic bag.
Precautions to take against bed bugs upon arrival at the hotel:
- When you arrive at the hotel, perform an adequate inspection of the room before bringing your luggage in.
- Leave your bags on the luggage rack (inspected beforehand) instead of unpacking them. Never place your shoes in an enclosed location during your stay, and don’t put anything under the bed.
- Carefully inspect the bed, then examine all the folds of the mattress and the bed base, the back of the headboard, the wall, the pillows, the bedding, the bed skirt, the frame, and the bed legs.
- Take a flashlight and check the inside of the closet, paying special attention to the cracks and crevices.
- If you discover any traces of bed bugs, notify the front desk immediately and demand another room or simply change hotels.
- Always place your suitcases in the bathroom.
- Keep your clothes in sealed plastic bags at all times. Remember to bring some bags for your dirty clothes as well.
Precautions to take against bed bugs once you return home:
- Place your luggage on a hard surface outside your home, far from any place where bed bugs could be likely to crawl and/or hide.
- Take out all your personal effects and examine them carefully, especially your hairbrush and your makeup bag. Wash all your clothes and fabric items in hot water, then put them in the dryer for at least 30 minutes at the hottest temperature.
- If possible, put non-washable items in the dryer at the highest possible temperature for at least 30 minutes.
- Vacuum the inside of your suitcases and throw the bag in an outdoor garbage can. Then, clean the brushes, accessories, and canister of your device with hot water and detergent. If it doesn’t have a bag, empty the contents of the canister into a plastic bag and seal it carefully before throwing it away.
How to prevent a bed bug infestation when an infestation is raging at work or when you need to visit residents who are dealing with bed bugs
If you need to work in a home that is infested or suspected of being infested by bed bugs, it is important to take some precautions to avoid bringing bed bugs back home with you. Here are some of them:
- Wear light-coloured clothing.
- Wear clothing that can be dried in the machine.
- Wear completely smooth shoes.
- Wear disposable protective overalls, shoe covers, or leggings.
- Hang your coat on the shower curtain rod.
- Always keep your bags as far as possible from the bed.
- Avoid sitting on upholstered furniture.
- If you need to visit several homes and only one of them is infested or suspected of being infested, plan to visit that one last.
- Use white plastic bags to detect the presence of potential bed bugs more easily.
- If you need to go into a heavily infested home, change your clothes before going anywhere else.
- If possible, get undressed before entering your home (e.g., in a garage or portico). Place your clothes in hermetically resealable bags.
- Place the clothes directly in a bag, then bring them directly to the washer or dryer, then throw away the bag outside the house.
- Wash all your clothes as soon as you return and throw away the bag that was transporting them outside.
- Dry your clothes at the highest temperature for 45 minutes.
- Rigorously inspect the bed, looking for signs of the presence of bed bugs.
- Avoid putting your bags on the bed or near it. Instead, put them in the bottom of the bathtub.
The precautions mentioned above are largely inspired by the Guide de prévention: Interventions à domicile—Situations d’insalubrité morbide from the Agence de la santé et des services sociaux des Laurentides.(http://asstsas.qc.ca/sites/default/files/publications/documents/Guides_Broch_Depl/GP66_Guide%20insalubrite%20FINAL%2022dec2011-rev_01-16.pdf)
Wear light-coloured clothing.
Light-coloured clothing makes it possible to detect any bed bugs that may have grabbed onto you during your visit more quickly. Loose-fitting clothing should also be avoided.
Before leaving, you can also shake off your clothes.
Wear clothing that can be dried in the machine.
Choose to wear clothing that can potentially be dried in the machine. By drying the clothes on the highest setting for at least 30 minutes, you will be able to eliminate any bed bugs that may be hiding there.
Wear completely smooth shoes.
By wearing smooth shoes, bed bugs have less opportunity to grab on than with shoes made of porous materials. In addition, avoid shoes with holes or large openings, such as sandals and high heels. Favour clean shoes without laces.
Wear disposable protective overalls, shoe covers, or leggings.
If you often work in places infested with bed bugs, you should know that there are disposable protective overalls, shoe covers, and leggings (e.g., Tyvek®). These items let you protect the shoes and clothes that you are wearing from bed bugs. Their light colours let you see any bed bugs that might be crawling there more quickly. At the end of the operation, it’s possible to remove your protective clothing and dispose of it in a garbage bag that you must take the trouble to close tightly and throw away outside. You will therefore have a clear conscience.
Hang your coat on the shower curtain rod.
Avoid hanging your coat in closets, on chairs, and on furniture. Instead, opt to place it on a hanger on the shower curtain rod. In the absence of a shower curtain rod, try to find a place far from the bedrooms and any other clothing in the house. In addition, favour a well-lit room to a dark room.
Always keep your bags as far as possible from the bed.
If you need to bring documents, bags, or equipment with you, bring them in a bag that can be hermetically sealed (e.g., giant zip-lock bags). Keep your effects away from the bedrooms. If possible, hang the bag from the shower rod. If this is suitable, you can place your effects in the bathtub or on a smooth surface such as a table. In addition, favour a well-lit room.
Avoid sitting on upholstered furniture.
If you absolutely must sit down, look for non-upholstered furniture. Bed bugs would much rather settle in upholstered furniture. Whether it’s chairs, armchairs, or sofas, bed bugs like to settle there because the material often lets them attach their eggs there. In addition, the folds and cracks make it possible for bed bugs to easily hide there after their meals. Avoid sitting on or coming into direct contact with any beds as well.
If you need to visit several homes and only one of them is infested or suspected of being infested, plan to visit that one last.
If you need to intervene in several different homes over the course of a day and only one of them is concerned about a bed bug problem, plan to visit that one last. By proceeding in this way, you will minimize the risk of spreading the bed bugs to other homes.
Use white plastic bags to detect the presence of potential bed bugs more easily.
When you use plastic bags to store clothing or equipment, always favour white-coloured bags. The light colour of the bags lets you more easily locate the presence of bed bugs on them.
If you need to go into a heavily infested home, change your clothes before going anywhere else.
If you can easily see bed bugs moving around a house in broad daylight, there is a good chance that the infestation is significant. Notify the person on the premises so that they can inform their landlord. If that person is the landlord or owner, they will need to rely on the services of a professional exterminator. Heavily infested homes are at a greater risk of contamination. If possible, postpone your appointment to a date after a professional bed bug extermination has been carried out. However, if you are obligated to work there, wear protective clothing. If you are unable to wear protective clothing, change your clothes and keep them in a firmly sealed bag until they can be treated in the dryer for at least 30 minutes on the hottest cycle. Shake off and clean your shoes with a cloth before going into other homes.
If possible, get undressed before entering your home (e.g., in a garage or portico). Place your clothes in hermetically resealable bags.
Upon returning to your home, it is preferable to remove/change your clothes outside. Then, place them in a hermetically resealable bag so that they can be treated in the dryer in order to destroy any bed bugs that may be hiding there.
Place the clothes directly in a bag, then bring them directly to the washer or dryer, then throw away the bag outside the house.
All the clothes that may have been contaminated during your interventions should be placed in firmly sealed white plastic bags. Upon your return, it is important to bring them directly to the washer, then the dryer.
Wash all your clothes as soon as you return and throw away the bag that was transporting them outside.
Open the bags directly into the washer or dryer to prevent any insects from falling to the ground. Ordinary washing is not an effective way to eliminate bed bugs. It is important to wash the clothes at the highest temperature for at least 30 minutes.
Attention: Get rid of the bags outside as soon as they are empty. Contaminated bags that are lying around or reused could spread bed bugs and wind up ruining your efforts
Precautions to take during a move to avoid bed bugs
- It is possible to ask your future landlord to find out if the home has fallen prey to bed bugs during the past year.
- Store any clothes in hermetically sealed plastic bags. Don’t neglect any opening where bed bugs could hide. Favour white-coloured bags, since they let you better see any bed bugs that might be found on the surface.
- Seal all your cardboard boxes with adhesive tape so as not to leave any open slits.
- Avoid using provided blankets. Place them in a hermetically sealed bag and take your own blankets.
- Ask your future moving company about the measures offered with regard to bed bugs. Inspect the truck yourself. If possible, vacuum it, then throw away the vacuum bag in an outdoor garbage can.
- A canine inspection of the home as well as the truck bed can also be carried out to ensure that there are no bed bugs during your move.
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