3 Powerful Steps to Keeping Bed Bugs Out for 1st Responders

3 Steps to Keeping Bed Bugs Out for 1st Responders

As we reflect on all that you do as a first responder to serve our country and all over the world, we feel incredibly grateful and blessed to have you all make so many sacrifices for our safety and security.

A job as a police officer, firefighter, or EMT comes with some unfortunate risks beyond the risks that we all usually think of. Bed bugs are so widespread that they are a real concern for first responders everywhere. These pesky bugs can easily attach to you and infest the firetruck, ambulance, police station, firehouse, and even transfer to your home by way of your clothing and gear. In this blog, we will walk through everything you need to know about bed bugs and recommended ways to get rid of them.

How to spot a bed bug (1st Step to keeping bed bugs out.)

Although they are called bed bugs, they rarely stay on beds. Bed bugs will be lurking within nightstands, baseboards, electronics, and couches. They may even be on the people within a residence. Knowing how to identify a bed bug and differentiate them from other common household insects is key to stopping an infestation before it starts.

An adult bed bug’s body color depends on how long it has been since it has last eaten. A bed bug that has just finished eating will be a bright red color while a bed bug that ate several days ago will be a darker reddish-brown color. They have an elongated oval shape with a flat body and are about a quarter inch long. They have six legs that are located near the front of their body and an antenna on either side of their mouth.

Bed bugs don’t have wings. So, one easy way to differentiate them from other bugs is that they don’t have wings. Their primary mode of transportation is crawling. They can move three to four feet per minute, which is about the same speed as an ant. The eggs look somewhat like a grain of rice and the nymphs are the size of a small tick.

How bed bugs spread

Keeping Bed Bugs Out for 1st Responders. Paramedic helping with person to person contact.

These hungry pests are always looking for a blood meal and will crawl onto their next victim any chance they get. Bed bugs can be transferred through direct person-to-person contact while carrying someone out of a building, performing CPR, or when checking for vitals. They will also have the opportunity to hitchhike on your clothes or in your jump bag while you are simply in someone’s home. You could get too close to a spot where they hide and several could attach to you without you even realizing it.

Planning for the prevention of bed bugs

Planning for regular inspections of the fire station, police station, ambulances, other emergency vehicles, and your home is one of the most important things you can do to protect your facilities, yourself, and your home. Watch this video for detailed instructions on how to search for bed bugs. If your facility has beds, be sure to check for bed bugs at least weekly. Bed bugs are generally found within five feet of the head of the bed. If you find bed bugs, do not throw away mattresses or furniture. It is not necessary as it is possible to get rid of bed bugs in mattresses when using heat.

As you are out on the job, you will come across homes and businesses that have suspicious insects. The possibility of bringing bed bugs back to your facility should be concerning. It is important to take a few extra minutes when you return from such a concerning job to add some extra precautions. 

Bed Bugs are not strong bugs and have trouble hanging onto clothing. They are merely hitchhikers and will find a cuff on pants or a pocket to hide in. Shaking your clothing can knock them off fairly easily. You will also want to change your clothing, put them in a bag, take them to the laundry area, and dry items for 15 minutes on low.  

Spray your jump bag with Lights Out all-natural bed bug spray inside and outside to kill any live bed bugs. If you have transported a passenger in your vehicle, be sure to spray the floors and seats thoroughly, especially in the cracks, with Lights Out.

Serious consequences of bed bug infestation

Although we would probably all agree that bed bugs are a very serious problem, sometimes the way people go about trying to get rid of them doesn’t line up with that knowledge. In some cases, the infestation becomes such a problem that a fire station will have to close down to keep firefighters from taking the bed bugs into their homes. Each year, news stories come out about the severe consequences of bed bug infestations in firehouses, police stations, as well as many other 1st responder facilities.

In 2017, a fire station in Charleston, SC had to temporarily close after problems with bed bugs persisted. Originally, the outbreak spanned four stations and lasted over a month. Eventually, the fire station used a propane bed bug heater to get rid of the bed bugs once and for all. After this bed bug incident, the fire station implemented a set of pest control procedures. It is best to make a plan for such procedures before serious incidents like this occur.

In 2018, a fire station in Hobart, IN had a similar situation and also had to temporarily close due to bed bug infestation. The fire chief believed that the bed bugs came from homes that had bed bugs where firefighters had been dispatched.

In 2019, an LAPD jail had to close down due to a bed bug infestation. In 2020, bed bugs were reported in two Dallas, TX Police Department substations. In this unfortunate situation, many squad cars were also reported to have bed bugs.

The reports don’t stop as the years go on. You can find many news stories of the serious consequences of bed bug infestations in fire stations, police stations, police cars, and other emergency vehicles.

What to do once you have bed bugs

The first thing you need to do is isolate any rooms or possessions that are infested so that you can keep the bugs from spreading and the problem from getting any worse. We recommend that you consult a professional for advice on the best way to proceed.

If you only see a few bugs in your bag, it is possible to deal with the problem by using Lights Out bed bug spray. Lights Out will kill bed bugs on contact by drying out their exoskeleton until they die. It also has residual effects for up to 30 days. As bed bugs, cross through the dried crystals, the crystals attach to their body to dehydrate and kill them. Additionally, it is a good choice as a preventative measure. Spraying this bed bug spray in and on the outside of your bag before seeing bed bugs can help you to avoid infestations all together.

If the bed bug infestation has progressed beyond a few bugs, heat is the most effective way to deal with it. There are so many options for bed bug heaters. A few factors will need to be considered to help make a decision about which bed bug heater is right for treating the infested area. How large is the space that needs to be treated? What type power is available to run a heater? Does the company selling a bed bug heater have a good reputation with customers and good reviews online? Is the heater easy to move from treatment site to treatment site?

With the right heater, killing bed bugs and their eggs takes about six to eight hours. 

Our pest control professionals are ready to talk to you about how we can help you get rid of a bed bug infestation or prevent one from happening. Call 844-364-3281 to get a consultation for your facility.