Protecting Kids from Bed Bugs in the School Environment
Whether you have young children in daycare or older kids that are already in school (or both) you may be somewhat concerned about the possibility that they could bring home bed bugs. These parasites not only cause itchy and painful bites as they feed on your blood, but they also spread rapidly since they are capable of traveling great distances. And since person-to-person or person-to-environment contact is how they spread, an infestation at school could mean a lot of kids bringing the little buggers home. So if you think there’s a possibility that bed bugs are present at school, there are a few steps you should take to protect your children.
1. Issue preventive information. Since most people are still unaware of the fact that bed bugs have had a resurgence over the last several years, many don’t have the foggiest notion of how to spot them or get rid of them. But this can be easily fixed by disseminating information. So contact your daycare or school to discuss sending out a flier to parents that addresses the signs of a bed bug infestation, how to exterminate the pests, and the plan of action for ensuring that the school and other households don’t become infected. Families that find bed bugs should keep kids home until the problem is resolved and inform the school so that they can mount their own efforts, as well as pass the information along to other parents.
2. Keep kids home. If you get a notice from the school about a bed bug incident, you may want to consider keeping your own child home until it has been resolved and the coast is clear. Of course, you should also begin your own home inspection. You can check mattresses for the bugs themselves, check your child for bites, and even hire a professional exterminator to come out and do an inspection for you.
3. Keep a clean house. Although it is difficult to prevent bed bugs from taking up residence in your home, you can exercise preventive measures by keeping your house clean with frequent vacuuming of plush surfaces (including mattresses). Nabbing these bugs before they get out of control is essential to stopping an infestation before it starts.
4. Wash clothing and linens in hot water. If you have found bed bugs or you think it is possible your child carried them home from school, do not hesitate to quarantine your child. Before he comes in the house, put his clothing and backpack in a plastic bag and dump them in the washing machine on the hot-water setting. Then check him from head to foot. While it is rare to find a bed bug on a person, it’s not entirely outside the realm of possibility. If you do happen to find one, rubbing alcohol can be used to kill it.
5. Use steam. Bed bug steamers are the best option once you’ve found bed bugs in your home. You may also try organic pesticides in both powder and spray form, but high heat is the best way to kill them (and their eggs). Of course, if you simply can’t seem to get them all, you may have to toss mattresses, linens, and other plush items and call an exterminator to tent the house. But this should be a last resort since you probably don’t want to expose your child to those toxins.
About the Author
Sarah Danielson writes for bedbugs.org where you can find more information on what causes bed bugs and how to eliminate them.