Ready or not, it’s time to head back to school, and you know what that means. Actually, back to school means a multitude of things including scouring store shelves for much sought after supplies and trying to make everyone’s hectic schedules of classes, work, and extracurriculars mesh. Unfortunately, it may mean something else… bed bugs. Yep, it isn’t just homework your kiddos may be bringing home this school year. Here’s what you should know, what to look out for, and what to do if the worst happens.
Here’s the good news: According to the University of Minnesota, “Actual bed bug infestations in schools are uncommon, more often a few bed bugs will hitchhike from an infested home on a student’s possessions.” However, that does not mean a bed bug (or several) won’t follow your child home, so to speak.. Think of the school not as a breeding ground but as a train station. Bed bugs ride in one child and ride out on another.
A bed bug may leap from one child to another under a variety of circumstances. Shared lockers, close quarters during nap time, and rough housing at recess all present opportunities for bed bugs to move from one person to another.
Note: While we only reference bed bugs being transmitted between students it is entirely possible for teachers, parent volunteers, and other staff members to transmit bed bugs to students and vice versa.
In the case of bed bugs, often, the best defense is a good offense. Here are steps you can take to prevent bed bugs from coming home from school with your child:
Most schools have a bed bug infestation plan. Call and ask your school district for details or a copy. In the unlikely event that the school does not have a plan in place suggest putting one together and/or creating educational materials that can be shared with parents.
Make sure you and your family are educated. For example, do you and your family really know what a bed bug looks like?
In addition, be sure to know the difference between fact and fiction. For example, bed bugs are not an indication of uncleanliness or “poorness.” Anyone can have a bed bug infestation in their home. Another myth is that bed bugs only live in your bed or mattress. Bed bugs are pretty adept hiders. Here are some of their sneakiest hiding places.
When your child brings items home from school be sure to inspect them carefully for signs of bed bugs. Remember, bed bugs (at least the adults) are visible to the naked eye. Items to inspect include (but are not limited to):
- Library books
- HIs or her backpack
- Clothing (including sports uniforms)
- Class books
- Lunch boxes
Regularly clean items your child brings home from school. Hard items (like lunch boxes) should be washed with hot water and soap or some other cleaner. Soft items (such as clothing) should be dried on the highest heat setting that is safe to use.
Be alert for signs of a bed bug problem. Catching an infestation before it really starts is (obviously) ideal as full blown infestations can be costly and time consuming to treat.
Signs of an infestation include:
- Marks that look similar to welts on your skin
- Dark spots or rust colored stains on bedding (or other soft items)
- Live bugs
- Skin casings
If you do suspect your home has a bed bug problem, whether that problem rode home in your kid’s backpack or some completely different way, there are certain steps you should take. You should notify the school right away to help prevent the spread of bed bugs to your child’s classmates.
Do not be embarrassed. As mentioned above, anyone can have a bed bug problem. These bed bugs could have come from your last business trip, school, or even visiting your local movie theater. It does not mean you are “dirty” or that you’ve done something “bad”.
In addition to notifying the school you’ll want to contact a professional to deal with the problem. While there are home remedies for bed bugs out there, the quickest and most precise way to get rid of the problem is to call a professional in from the start.
If you do suspect you have a bed bug problem, contact Scherzinger Pest Control, a pest control company in the Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky areas, including Dayton, OH, and now Columbus, OH. We’ve been pioneers, engineering new standards for ways of eliminating and controlling bugs and pests. Contact us by phone at 1-877-748-9888 or through our website, Facebook, or Twitter.