Bed bugs are the tiny, bloodsucking monsters that absolutely no-one wants to encounter. These minuscule insects hide in bedding during the day, emerging once night falls to feast on your sleeping body. Come morning, you’ll wake to a maddeningly itchy rash of bites and the hair-raising realization that you’re sharing your bed with hundreds, or even thousands, of bugs.
Bed bug bites are extremely uncomfortable and can take a long time to heal but are usually harmless. However, excessive scratching can result in secondary skin infections, such as impetigo, and a small percentage of the population may suffer from severe allergic reactions.
So, how can you stop this common but persistent pest from invading your home? Bed bugs usually travel by stowing away in luggage or laundry but can also find their way into your house by hitching a ride on your kids. Although bed bug infestations in school are relatively uncommon, these insects can make the leap from one household to another by crawling from kid to kid via their clothes or possessions.
What are bed bugs?
Bed bugs are tiny, brown, wingless insects with flattened bodies. They are mainly active at night and spend their days hiding in the lining of mattresses, bedsheets, and pillows. Bed bugs feed exclusively on blood and will usually emerge after dark to attack any nearby sleepers, leaving trails of itchy bites in their wake.
Bed bugs are extremely resilient and can go for months without feeding. They are also masters of concealment, making use of their flattened body shape to hide away in tiny cracks and crevices. As a result, they can be very difficult to get rid of, especially once an infestation has become established.
Could you get bed bugs from school?
Bed bug infestations in schools are uncommon; however, the close proximity of kids from so many different households means they can spread easily in this environment. Bed bugs are most often transmitted in areas where people rest for periods of time. Therefore, your kid is more likely to pick up bed bugs in the locker room, break rest area or, in the case of younger children, at naptime.
Can your kid catch bed bugs on the school bus?
Bed bugs can be picked up anywhere people sit in close proximity to one another. This means that, if your child sits next to someone from an infested household on the bus, the bugs can easily transfer onto their clothes and into your home.
Bed bugs and school policy
School policy on bed bugs will vary from institution to institution. However, all schools should have a plan of action in place should a bed bug infestation occur. Generally, schools will notify parents and guardians in the event of an outbreak and distribute educational resources among the students to take home. These will inform families of effective bed bug control methods, as well as ways to reduce your risks of infestation.
The school’s action plan should be implemented in a way that doesn’t stigmatize or exclude students. A bed bug sighting will not usually result in the school closing, or in students being sent home.
How can you check for bed bugs?
If your kid comes home with the news that there are bed bugs in school, you need to act immediately. Follow the guidelines set out by the school, and get to work inspecting your kids, their possessions and your home for insects.
Conduct a thorough inspection of your kid’s clothes and bedding
Go through your kid’s stuff carefully to make sure there are no bed bugs lurking inside. Empty out book bags and pockets and check the lining carefully for bugs or their poop (which looks like tiny red or black spots).
It’s also a good idea to check all the bedding in your house, as this is where bed bugs are most commonly found.
Check your kid’s skin (and your own) for bites
Bed bugs can also be detected by the presence of bites. These red, itchy lumps can look at lot like other insect bites; however, bed bug bites will often line up in a row or ring, as they may bite several times as they walk along the skin.
What should you do if you find bed bugs?
If you find bed bugs on your kid’s clothes, bedding or possessions it’s important that you act immediately to get rid of them.
Bed bugs can’t survive high temperatures, so the easiest way to kills them (and their eggs) is to place all infested items in a plastic bag in the dryer and blast them with a medium-high heat for around 20 minutes. Dispose of the bag afterward.
How can you stop your kid from bringing home bed bugs from school?
If your kid tells you there are bed bugs in the school classroom, you have to be vigilant if you want to keep them out of your home. Encourage your kids to keep their backpacks and coats inside resealable plastic bags when at school and not to let them rest in piles with other kid’s possessions. When they come home, empty backpacks at the door, inspect them thoroughly for bugs and leave all bags in a sealed bag or box when in your house. Bed bugs should be kept away from the bedroom at all costs so, until you get the all-clear from your kid’s school, make sure they don’t take their backpacks into their rooms.
Bed bugs can easily be transferred from one kid’s possessions to another, especially in the close proximity of the school classroom or bus. To make sure your kid doesn’t bring home bed bugs, you must be vigilant about checking their possessions for insects when they come home. Keep bags at the door (and never in the bedroom) and encourage your kids to take precautions like not leaving their possessions in piles with those form other households.