How to prevent bed bugs at summer camp
Summer camp season is right around the corner, and for some it has already started. It’s a great time for children to get out of the day to day monotony of school, make new friends and live new experiences away from home. For the most part, parents should feel safe sending their kids away for a week, most camps have rigorous protocols for accidents and emergency situations, however other dangers lurk in these summer camps; bed bugs! Every year there are reports where parents send their children to day camps and when the week is over and the children return home, they also bring home the dreaded bed bug with them.
How do bed bugs get into day camps and in your home?
Due to the high turnover of children sleeping in those beds, the risk of one child bringing in bed bugs is higher than usual. Unlike hotels where there is constant monitoring of bed bugs, some of these day camps run on tight budgets, therefore the cost of constant monitoring of bed bugs isn’t always a top priority. That means simply cleaning the sheets will suffice for these camps. So when one child brings in bed bugs to camp, it’s only a matter of time before that bed bug reproduces to create a colony which spreads throughout the sleeping quarters at camp. Camps won’t announce the presence of bed bugs to not ruin their reputation, so it’s very hard to know if it’s a problem or not. Even if they’ve had bed bugs in the past and have had the location treated, bed bug can live for up to a year without feeding. You can never be sure. When camp is over and the children return home, this is where vigilance is essential for parents. Because bed bugs are champions at hitchhiking, your child’s clothes and luggage could be contaminated with bed bugs. Once the luggage has entered your home, it is game over from here. It’s only a matter of time before the pesky bed bug starts its own family and spreads to all the rooms of your home.
How to prevent bed bugs from coming home with your children?
You could ask the day camp manager if there has been any cases of bed bugs, but they risk telling you exactly what you want to hear ``No, we do not have any bed bugs problems``. You could also educate you child about bed bugs, but you also don’t want to scare him or her. So here are a few measures you can take to protect you and your child from bed bugs.
- When sending you children to camp, place a dissolvable laundry bag in his/her suitcase and ask them to put all the clothing in that bag at the end of the trip.
- When you pick them up, place his/her luggage in a plastic garbage bag and do not bring in your house.
- When you get home, ask your kids to take off all their clothes in the garage, inspect their body for bite marks and send them to the shower. With his/her clothes, place immediately in a dissolvable laundry bag (or directly in laundry machine if in garage)
- Open plastic bag with luggage and remove the contents, place everything in the laundry machine.
- Since you are unable to clean the luggage in some cases, use the Blaze bed bug killer on the suitcase and place luggage back in the plastic bag for a 2-3 of days. Inspect the bag once removing it from the plastic bag.
The key here is to avoid any bed bug from entering your home. Keep all contents in plastic bags until clean. If you want to be extra cautious, send your kids to camp with bed bug detectors. Our Buggy Beds travel detectors are perfect for this. Ask you kid to slip them under his mattress the first day and place them in a Ziploc bag when he leaves; this way you can safely inspect the detector. If you are able to inspect the bed at camp, do so and have a look at our bed bug identification page.
For any questions or advice, please do not hesitate to send us an email, we will gladly help.
- Sebastien Taché