If you have elementary-aged children, you likely look forward to their periodic sleepovers and slumber parties at friends' houses. Not only do these events provide your child with fun and social interaction, you and your spouse are then free to go out to dinner, see a movie, or take part in other activities without paying for a babysitter. However, if your child attends a slumber party at a house infested with bed bugs and inadvertently brings a few home, you could find yourself facing a potentially expensive and time-consuming extermination process. How can you ensure you keep your own home bed bug free when your children are spending the night in others' homes? Read on for some simple and effective bed bug prevention and bed bug treatment tips.
Learn (and teach your child) the signs of a bed bug infestation
If your child frequently spends the night at a particular friend's home, it's likely you've already seen the home and met this friend's parents enough to be comfortable simply dropping your child off at the door. In these situations, your child may be able to do a quick examination of the mattress or sleeping area before bedding down for the night. By peeling back a corner of the sheet to inspect the mattress, your child should be able to see the telltale tiny red dots that can indicate a bed bug feeding area.
For those who are concerned about a young child's ability to do this unobtrusively, it may be worthwhile to spend a few minutes visiting with the other child's parents before bidding your child goodnight. If a bed bug infestation is severe, you'll easily be able to see the small raised bites on the child's arms or face (and sometimes even the parents' faces). You'll then need to make a judgment call as to whether you should come up with an excuse to bring your child home that evening or quarantine him or her upon return to your home.
Take some bed bug eradication steps upon your child's arrival home
Whether you know your child has been exposed to bed bugs or simply want to take all precautions after sleeping at a strange home or apartment, there are a few steps you can take to keep these bed bugs from making their way into your home.
First, you'll want to keep your child's luggage outside or in a sealed-off area of the house (like the laundry room) until it can be washed. Then have your child change his or her clothes (and perhaps take a shower). Wash the clothes and bedding in a hot cycle for at least 90 minutes. Adult bed bugs and larvae die when they are exposed to temperatures of 118 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes or more, and bed bug eggs are eradicated after about 90 minutes at this temperature.