You don’t need me to tell you that the last couple of summers have been – well – unusual. Let’s just leave it at that. But this year, thankfully, thinks are closer to normal. Maybe not one hundred percent, but closer than we’ve been for a while. That means this summer kids will be packing up and heading off to camp. That’s the good news. The bad news is, they may be running into some unwanted pests. Namely – bed bugs.
Are Bed Bugs Really a Problem at Summer Camp?
When you think of summer camp you think of long afternoons basking in the sunshine. Days filled with plenty of outdoor sports and activities. And when the day is done everyone heads back to the cabins. As the sun goes down tired campers curl up and nod off to sleep in rustic bunk beds, dreaming of the next day’s adventures.
It sounds charming and idyllic. And in many respects it is. But much like hotels, camp cabins are ideal breeding grounds for bed bugs. Those cabins see a lot of human traffic. Campers and counselors come from miles around, and some of them may be bringing along some unwanted companions.
It only takes a few bed bugs to lay the groundwork for a full-scale infestation. With guests and staff passing through camp it’s inevitable that someone will be bringing a few pests along with them.
So what can campers, and their parents, do to prevent bed bugs from ruining an otherwise perfect summer? Well, we have a few simple tips that should help you, and your kids, avoid bring unwanted bed bugs home from camp this summer.
Before Camp Starts – Some Simple Prevention Tips
Protecting yourself and your family from bed bugs begins before you send the kids off to camp. If you take some simple preventative measures ahead of time you can minimize the risk of exposing your kids to bed bugs or having them bring some of the pest home when camp is over.
Before sending the kids off for the summer follow these simple steps:
Contact the Camp – Before you pack up the kids contact the camp administrators and ask for a detailed account of any past bed bug problems. If the camp has had an infestation in the past you should know how long ago it was and how camp management dealt with the issue. You should also ask if there are plans in place to help avoid any future infestations.
Teach Your Campers About Bed Bugs – Youngsters should know what to look for when they arrive at camp. Teach them how to inspect their cabins and bunks for signs of bed bug activity. Your kids don’t need to be bed bug experts, but they should learn how to recognize the signs of bed bugs in their sleeping quarters.
Teach Your Campers About Bed Bug Bites – Let your kids know that if they get bitten by bed bugs they should notify the camp counselors immediately. You should also give them a crash course in treating bed bug bites.
Keep Personal Belongings Safe – Throughout their stay at camp kids should keep their suitcases and other belongings in plastic bags. This is to reduce the chances of picking up any stray bed bugs. Even if the cabin looks clean and passes an initial inspection it’s probably wise to keep things wrapped up safe for the duration of the summer holiday.
Coming Home – Tips to Avoiding Bed Bugs After Camp
When summer camp comes to a close and it’s time to come home there’s still some preventative work to be done. Even if your kids swear the camp was free of bed bugs it’s still wise to take precautions.
When you pick the kids up from camp take the following steps to reduce the risk of bringing any stray bed bugs into your home:
Bags and Baggage – Unpack all of your camper’s luggage outside of the home. Put clothes in a resealable plastic bag until they can be thoroughly laundered.
Washing Laundry – Wash all of your camper’s laundry on the hottest appropriate setting. Be sure to thoroughly tumble dry all laundry on high heat for a minimum of 30 minutes. The heat of the washing cycle and the tumble dryer should kill any stray bed bugs that might have found their way into your kid’s luggage.
Bags and Baggage (again) – Suitcases and backpacks should be thoroughly cleaned. Soft luggage can be scrubbed out with soap and hot water. Any bags that can be machine washed should be tossed into the washer and dried on high heat.
Hard luggage will need to be hand washed. Give extra attention to seams and stitching. This is where bed bugs like to hide.
Keep Your Campers Safe from Bed Bugs
Summer camp should be filled with sunshine and adventure. The last thing anyone wants is to have a few at summer camp ruined by a bed bug infestation. But if you take some preventative measures before sending the kids off to camp you can help them avoid having their holiday ruined by bed bug attacks. Taking extra measures when your campers come home will help the whole family avoid potential bed bug problems at home.
Published by Scott Palatnik
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