Bed bugs have morphed into a huge pest infestation problem throughout much of the United States. Once rarely experienced, these blood-feeding pests are now so common that the media routinely publishes lists of cities where the risk of coming into contact with these pests is most likely. Since any contact with bed bugs increases the risk that you will carry some of them back into your own home, it is important to know how to lessen this risk. 

Recognize the enemy

Although bed bugs have been a problem for generations, it is only recently that their populations have become so large and threatening to so many areas of the country. This means that not everyone who may be affected by bed bugs is aware of what they look like or where to look for them. 

A small oval insect, the bed bug gets its name from its ability to hide within the seams and folds of bedding, upholstered furnishings or soft goods, like clothing, bags, and suitcases. Whenever staying away from home, it is a good idea to take time to check mattresses and bedding in hotels, inns, and other lodging arrangements for any signs of bed bug activity to help lessen the risk or being bitten or allowing these pests to hitch a ride into your own home. 

Establish precautionary measures

Even homeowners who rarely travel can unknowingly bring bed bugs into their home. Purchasing secondhand furnishings, clothing, or soft goods at a yard sale or thrift shop and bringing them straight into your car and home is a common way in which this can occur. This does not mean that you should never buy secondhand items, it just means that you should use good precautionary measure before putting them into your car or home. 

At risk items should always be sealed inside a plastic trash bag or wrapped with plastic sheeting and then taped securely, before putting them into your vehicle. Once you arrive home, store these items in an outside area, away from other household items until you can take time to thoroughly inspect them for insect activity, before moving them into the home. 

Soft goods that are washable can be taken into the laundry room in sealed trash bags and then put immediately into the washing machine. Launder the items, using both a hot wash and hot dryer setting. Remember to also dispose of the trash bag you used to bring the items inside by rolling it tightly and inserting it into a smaller, resealable plastic bag before putting it into your outside trash receptacle. 

Know when to call a pro

A bed bug infestation is a serious problem that can affect the health of your family. If you find that your home has been invaded by bed bugs, it is important to have the home inspected and treated immediately by a professional bed bug removal specialist in your area to prevent a small problem from becoming a massive one.