Tips to Protect Your Kids from Bed Bugs at Summer Camp

It’s that time of year again. School’s out, the heat is coming on, and summer camps are filling up with excited campers. For a week or two kids can forget about homework and classes and concentrate on the great outdoors. A little hiking, a little swimming, and the chance to make some lasting memories. It surely sounds like fun.

But summer camp isn’t all sunshine and spoon races. Some young campers may find their fun cut short by the presence of bed bugs. And those bed bugs may well follow your young campers home. So before you pack the kids off for the summer let’s talk about summer camps, bed bugs, and how you can keep your campers safe.

Bed Bugs and Summer Camps

We tend to think of summer camp as simply a get-a-way from hustle and bustle of city life. A haven nestled in an idyllic clearing surrounded by nature.

While that’s largely true camps are also rustic hotels. And like any hotel they see a steady stream of temporary guests. Human traffic is the number one contributor to bed bug migration. Where there are people coming and going there is the potential for bed bugs. It only takes a handful of these blood-sucking pests to lay the groundwork for a large scale infestation.

Ideally, every summer camp’s staff should be trained to spot bed bugs and prevent their spread. But the truth of the matter is camp administrators rarely have the resources to guarantee a bed bug free summer stay. So if you want to stop bed bugs from ruining your camper’s holiday you’ll have to take the initiative yourself. Fortunately, we have some tips to make that task a little bit easier.

What to Do Before Sending the Kids Off to Camp

As always when dealing with bed bugs prevention is the key. What you do before sending your children to camp can greatly minimize the risk of bed bug exposure.

Here are some important tips to follow before kids head off to camp:

  • The first thing to do is contact the camp administrators and request a detailed account of any bed bug problems. If there has been an issue in the past you want to know how it was dealt with and if there are plans in place to address bed bug infestations moving forward.

  • Give young campers a crash course in bed bugs. Teach them how to inspect their cabin and sleeping area for signs of bed bugs. Remind them to inspect their quarters before unpacking. If they find any tell-tale signs of bed bug activity they should bring it a counselor’s attention immediately.

  • Teach your campers how to recognize and treat bed bug bites. Again, if they find they are being bitten by bed bugs they should bring it to the attention of camp staff immediately.

  • During their stay campers should keep their belongings in sealable plastic bags or tubs to prevent exposure to bed bugs. Even if the cabin looks clean there may be bed bugs lurking in the shadows. Keeping everything tucked away in bags or tubs will reduce the risk of picking up any stray bed bugs and bringing them home.

What to Do After Camp

When the kids come home from their adventures you still have some work to do. Even if your camper swears they never saw any hint of bed bugs you’ll want to take some additional steps to protect yourself and your home.

The following tips will help to ensure any stray bed bugs are kept out of your home:

  • Unpack luggage and backpacks outside of the house. Put clothing in sealable plastic bags and leave them until they can be thoroughly washed.

  • Wash all of your camper’s clothing on the hottest possible cycle. Everything should be run through a dryer cycle for at least 30 minutes. The intense heat of the washer and dryer should kill any stray bed bugs or bed bug eggs that may have found their way into your child’s belongings.

  • Backpacks, overnight bags, and suitcases should be washed out with hot water and detergent. Give special attention to seams and stitching. These are major hiding spots for pests. Soft luggage that can be put through a machine wash can be laundered on the hottest settings to help destroy and bed bugs or bed bug eggs.

  • Finally, inspect any personal belongings (books, games, etc) before bringing them back into the house. Bed bugs don’t only hide in clothing and bedding. Give everything a good once over before taking it inside.

Keeping Your Campers Bed Bug Free

Summer camp should be about fun and adventure. But bed bugs can quickly turn a summer holiday into a family nightmare. If your children are heading off to camp this season take steps to protect them, and the rest of your family, safe from bed bug infestations. With some smart planning you can keep this summer fun and free from pests.

Published by Scott Palatnik

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