Schools & Healthcare Facilities Not Immune from Bed Bugs
A few years ago, bed bugs at certain hotels made headlines all over the country. Additionally, news of a bed bug infestation in apartments in New York City had people running to their local Bed, Bath & Beyond and other retailers to purchase bed bug protectors for their mattresses and pillows. What doesn’t get as much coverage is that public institutions, such as schools, libraries, hospitals, and other healthcare facilities are not immune from the plight of bed bugs.
Bed Bugs At Schools
Bed bug infestations at schools over the last several years have increased. In fact, in 2011 schools in a number of states have closed off classrooms — or the entire building – because of bedbugs. In New York City alone in the first half of 2011, 1,700 cases were reported, according to the city’s Department of Education. In the same year, Michigan, government officials issued a document telling schools how to handle any infestations, complete with a template of a parent notification letter. In Ohio, in October of 2012, classes were cancelled at a school due to bed bug infestation.
Think about it. As infestations continue to spread through single-family and multi-unit homes, more people are living with bed bugs than ever before. When more people live with bed bugs the possibility of people transporting bed bugs to other locations increases. Children living with bed bugs at home will bring bed bugs to school, increasing the probability that any particular school will experience multiple bed bug introductions every year.
As educators, there are clear steps to take when a bed bug introduction occurs. This includes having a bed bug management plan. Within the plan, be sure the school district has contracted with a licensed and certified pest management company. Ask the company’s management about its bed bug experience. How many bed bug jobs did they do in the last year? Are they familiar with integrated pest management? Do they have a printed copy of their treatment protocol? What products do they use, both chemical and non-chemical? What is their protocol for follow-up treatments?
What’s more, the key to bug prevention for schools is early detection. Bed bugs must be detected very quickly to stop an infestation from developing, or before they bite someone. Once you have selected your expert bed bug company, have them present a bed bug identification program to your employees. All employees need to know what live bed bugs look like (all life stages), so they can recognize a bed bug when they see one.
Also, be sure to alert parent at the beginning of the school year about bed bugs, providing them with a bed bug awareness brochure, including the fact that the school district has implemented bed bug action plan. Let parents know what the procedure will be if an infestation, not just a single bug on a kid’s sweater, is found. It may also be helpful to provide parents with information on how to prepare their child’s belongings to come to school if they already know they have an infestation at home (bagging, inspection before they leave the home, use of a hot dryer).
If a Bed Bug is found in a Classroom or Elsewhere in the Building
If there is an infestation in the building, you may want to alert the parents of children inhabiting the infested room that bed bugs have been found. This is so they can inspect their child’s belonging before bringing them into their home. Let parents know the treatment protocol for the affected classroom, and where the children will meet for class the next day. With regard to the infested room:
- Identify with a sign the exact location where the bed bugs were found, and isolate that location.
- Call the pest management company immediately.
- Capture at least one bed bug and save it in a plastic bag for positive identification.
- If your pest control company confirms the infestation by identifying your captured specimens, or by inspecting and finding additional bugs, they should provide you with instructions on how to prepare the classroom for treatment. Follow all instructions to the letter (these may include vacuuming, clutter removal, etc.) so that the company can begin their treatment protocol.
Caitlin-Morgan provides insurance programs to many types of educational facilities including higher education facilities like universities, public schools, private & charter schools and schools for special needs. 877.226.1027