If you wish to avoid bed bugs, you need to approach the problems from different angles. The issue is that bed bugs are more common than people like to think; we can find bed bugs in hotels and motels (even the 5-star rated ones), movie theaters, restaurants, metros, airplanes, buses and even in churches. Big cities like Chicago and New York are facing an epidemic and pest control companies here get hundreds of calls weekly for tackling the problem. People are even worried about going to offices as many a co-worker has bed bugs at home. Let us study some tips to tackle and prevent bed bugs from coming into your home.
Bed bugs at the office-what to do when someone at work has bed bugs?
Bed bugs can easily enter your home from your workplace. Naturally, we cannot screen all employees and most employees or co-workers will not disclose that they have bed bugs owing to the shame and social stigma attached to bed bugs. If someone at work has bed bugs, they will not tell you owing to it being a direct implication of not maintaining cleanliness at home. However, education of employees is must to solve the problem. If we citizens want to make our cities bed-bug free, then we need to understand that we all have a collective responsibility.
As a part of addressing this problem, many organizations are now making it compulsory for employees to watch presentation on bed bugs on government websites. Here they can learn the steps they can take to eliminate bed bugs at home.
Secondly, you must carefully observe bed bug tell-tale signs. Many coworkers with bed bugs might appear sleep deprived. Some of them may have welts on their arms, neck, face etc and might also be itchy. All these signs indicate that they could have a bug issue. Talk to the concerned employee. Make her/him understand that this is a common issue and nothing to be embarrassed about. Direct them to the resources on this site to help them tackle the problem and also prevent bringing bugs to office. Maintain confidentiality so as to not embarrass the employee/coworker further.
Steps to eliminate bed bugs at office/workplace
If you have noticed bed bugs at your workplace, you need to determine the extent of infestation.
- Watch out for signs like discarded exoskeleton, red stains on chairs and upholstered areas, and an almond-like smell.
- Get an assessment done by an exterminator company. If you have seen a stray bed bug, it is likely that the problem will soon multiply. An exterminator is trained to check hiding places which bed bugs love. They can also give you a detailed report as to which employee’s cubicle has bugs and the one responsible for bringing bugs into the office.
- In some cases, the exterminator may recommend bringing in sniffer dogs that are trained to detect bug activity.
- They may also recommend the right treatment to tackle the problem.
- If you have bed bugs in office chairs and office cubicles, you will need to place all infested items in a safe temporary area. Remove all files, books, computers and other electronics and keep them away for the duration of the treatment is. Place discs and artwork, frames, and other office merchandise in Ziploc or plastic bags.
- Have the complete area vacuumed and cleaned thoroughly. Get office maintenance staff on board. Ask the exterminators to educate the maintenance personnel for further cleanliness.
- Temporarily relocate employees to other areas but make sure that they do not infest the temporary areas as well. Screen the clothing, files and all personal items as far as possible to ensure that is not the case.
It can be a tricky matter when dealing with someone who brings bed bugs to the workplace. Discretely leave a note for the employee and instruct him/her to have their home treated. If despite this warning you still see bed bugs, you may want to report the matter to your HR department.
Tips to avoid bringing bed bugs from public places
Hotel rooms are massive breeding grounds for bed bugs. We have already covered ways to prevent brining bed bugs home from hotel rooms. Do check out the article here. To summarize the points: avoid placing your luggage on the bed-place it in bathrooms since bugs usually avoid these areas. Inspect the room, bed, frames, paintings, outlets etc thoroughly. Watch out for tell-tale bug signs like rust colored stains, discarded or molten skin, and sweet odor. If these signs are present, demand another room or better still, get a refund and check into another hotel.
Churches and restaurants
If you find a bed bug in places like churches and restaurants, bring it to the attention of the personnel in charge. If possible, show them proof. Tell them to treat the premises as soon as possible. If possible, direct them to a good exterminator who can treat the area with pesticides. As far as possible, avoid visiting these facilities until they have had them treated by exterminators.
Bed bugs are common in public places and workplaces. But with a little vigilance, education and observation, we can take steps to avoid bringing them into our homes.