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Summer camp and bed bugs: What moms should know

Summer camp and bed bugs: What moms should know

Written By: Bill Strickland

Originally published July 2017

Summer is now in full swing, and you're preparing to send off your little campers to the great outdoors. Whether it's one week full of activities or an extended-stay camp, make sure you're prepared to welcome your kids back home--no bugs allowed.

Before you bring those foot lockers and suitcases into your laundry room, you'll want to be sure bed bugs aren't hitching a ride into your home. Bed bug infestations are on the rise in the last decade, and camp cabins and other close sleeping quarters are frequented by these pests. You can significantly reduce chances of bringing them into your home by following a few simple precautions and pest prevention tips.

First and foremost, if you suspect your camper was exposed to bed bugs, do not unpack inside your home. Instead, unpack trunks or suitcases in an area you can contain your contents, like outdoors or in the garage. A bathtub is the next best alternative. It is easier to spot crawling bed bugs in contained areas.

  • INSPECT: Inspect each individual piece of clothing and place into plastic, sealable bags until items can be washed.
  • WASH/DRY ON HIGH HEAT: Set washing machine on the hottest water cycle that is appropriate for the clothing and use detergent. Thoroughly dry clothes on high heat or the highest setting appropriate for a minimum of 30 minutes and until completely dry.
  • DRY CLEANING: Your camper probably isn't coming home with clothes that require dry cleaning, but in the off chance, those should be placed into a sealed plastic bag. Be sure to mention the possibility of bed bugs to your dry cleaning service so they can take appropriate precautions.
  • SOFT LUGGAGE: For suitcases or bags that can be washed, first scrub seams with detergent and brush, using the hottest water appropriate for the fabric before placing in a wash cycle with, again with hottest water setting appropriate.
  • HARD LUGGAGE: Luggage that cannot be washed may be heat treated, with 120 degree exposure for at least three hours. Alternately, luggage can be freeze-treated, at 20 degrees or lower and maintained the temp for at least five days. Note that if you place in a household freezer, those temperatures vary between 20 and 30 degrees and should remain a minimum of two weeks.
  • PESTICIDES: Never treat clothing with pesticides.

How can you identify and treat common bites and stings?

Even the most diligent homeowners find themselves facing biting bugs and stinging insects from time to time. While you are here, check out the Guide to identify & Treat Bites & Stings. It's a great quick reference guide [Infographic] that you can download or print.

Back to bed bugs... What happens if you do bring these nasty critters into your home? Bedbug treatments and pest control consist of a very thorough inspection followed by a detailed application of product. Liquid residual insecticides, aerosols and dusts are used together to eliminate an infestation. Because they are sensitive to heat, steam can also be an effective tool to combat bed bugs.

Bedbug treatments can cost upwards of $2000. Customers with a Cingo Plan can rest easy knowing that if kids happen to bring these critters home, they are covered at no additional cost. Learn More >>

Peace of mind is just around the corner. Complete our Pest Quiz to find the best pest control option for you and your home.

About Cingo: The name Cingo means to surround and secure, conveying the company's commitment to home protection. The company has been protecting families in the Southeast since 1974. It provides home protection services throughout Georgia and South Carolina, including Atlanta, Augusta, Charleston, Douglas, Dublin, Milledgeville, Savannah, Vidalia, Waycross and all points in between. Cingo was named a Best Place to Work in Georgia by Georgia Trend Magazine and listed as a National Best & Brightest Company to Work For. Learn more at www.cingohome.com.