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Planning for Summer Camp? Plan to Avoid Bed Bugs – Part II

By Chris Williams on May 26, 2015.
bed-bugs-on-box-spring

Time for the kids to come home from camp. Used to be, the dirty laundry could wait while the family got reacquainted and the camp stories were told. Today, there is the possibility that bed bugs are lurking in that laundry bag. Special precautions are required ASAP to assure that bed bugs are not introduced into the home.

Why Do Camps Even Get Bed Bugs?

A summer camp provides an ideal environment, from a bed bug’s perspective. Lots of warm bodies sleeping in close proximity and wooden cabins with lots of daytime hiding places in cracks and crevices. Even when a summer camp is only in use for a few warm weather months, bed bugs can easily survive a cold winter when there are no campers to feed on. Bed bugs can survive for more than a year without a blood meal. They simply wait until new summer campers arrive with a fresh supply of blood. Of course, we assume that before that happens the cabins and beds have been thoroughly inspected and any necessary pesticide treatments completed.

Arriving campers bring bed bugs into camp, too. With hundreds of kids sharing close sleeping and social space, it doesn’t take long for multiplying bed bugs to move through camp. To make sure that your child arrives at camp with bed bug precautions in mind, see the first part of this blog series, Planning for Summer Camp? Plan to Avoid Bed Bugs – Part 1.

Bed Bug Precautions at the End of Camp

  • As your child packs up to leave camp for home, all clothes and items should be sealed in plastic bags before being placed in suitcases or trunks. If there is reason to suspect a bed bug infestation, then go a step further and also place the suitcase (and backpacks and other similar items) in a large heavy-duty sealed bag before placing it in the car or bus.
  • Once home, have your child shed his or her clothes and shoes immediately. Bag them up, too. Now, a hot shower is probably in order for your child.
  • Wash all of the clothes and washable shoes and other belonging (including laundry bags, duffle bags, backpacks) right away. Don’t let bagged items sit as bed bugs could escape. Wash, using hot water, detergent, and a full cycle. The dryer cycle is important in killing bed bugs (see Will Drying Clothes Kill Bed Bugs?). Dry all dryable items on the hottest cycle for at least 30 minutes.
  • If articles can’t be laundered, bag them and take them to the dry cleaners (if appropriate), or wash them outside and let them dry in the sun.
  • Pay attention to emptied suitcases, trunks, and duffels, too. Inspect them, vacuum them thoroughly, then reseal them in a large, plastic bag and store them away from living areas in a garage or attic.

For the next few weeks, keep an eye out for signs of a bed bug infestation in your home such as itchy bites on your child’s body, or dark blood specks on sheets. If, despite all your precautions, you end up with bed bugs, call a professional exterminator without delay.

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