Avoiding bed bugs 101

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Bed bugs are unwelcome guests to anyone’s home. Here are tips on keeping your home free of bed bugs.
  • Never bring home discarded items such as beds, mattresses or furniture. If buying antiques or other used items, inspect them carefully beforehand. 
  • In higher risk areas such as movie theatres, public transit or waiting rooms, do a visual inspection before sitting down. “Bed bugs are hitchhikers. They’re not going to fly or jump on you,” says Sandy Costa of Toronto’s GreenLeaf Pest Control. However, leaving personal belongings exposed for long periods could invite bed bugs. “Don’t put your purse on the floor if you can keep it elevated.” 
  • Vacuum regularly and keep a clutter-free environment. This will help you spot suspicious signs, or if you have a problem, provides bed bugs fewer places to hide. Light-coloured bedding is easier to inspect. In multi-unit dwellings, seal up entry points such as all cracks and crevices with caulking. 
  • Consider buying special products designed to deal with bed bugs, such as encasements to protect your mattresses. Bed bug monitors underneath bed legs “are one of the most effective, cost-effective methods of detecting infestations,” says Mark Nelder, an Issues Analyst with Public Health Ontario. 
  • Always inspect hotel rooms, says Sandy. “Keep your suitcase on the suitcase caddy in the middle of the room. Don’t unpack… inspect your bed, mattress and headboard before settling in.” 
  • After travel (or if you suspect an exposure), launder your belongings using high heat. For clean items, 30 minutes in your dryer’s high-heat cycle is fine. Also inspect and vacuum your luggage thoroughly before bringing bags into your home.

Originally published in ParentsCanada magazine, February/March 2012.

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