Bed Bug Information for Fire Departments

Bed Bugs – An Old Pest Returns! – How to Protect Yourself, Your Fire House and Your Family

Our thanks to the Jackson Township Fire Department, Grove City, Ohio who created this presentation.

What You Have To Know About Bed Bugs

Presentation Contents
  • Bed Bug Biology
  • Why Bed Bugs Have Returned
  • Detection
  • How To Protect Yourself

Bed Bug Biology

    • Bed bugs are human parasites that feed on our blood.
    • Bed Bugs have piercing mouth parts just like a mosquito.
    • Bed bugs must have a blood meal in order to progress from one life – stage to another.
    • Bed bugs are tough! They can survive for a year without feeding!
    • Bed bugs are human parasites, but they will feed on other warm-blooded animals.
    • Bed Bugs aren’t known to carry disease at this time. However there is some evidence that they may spread MRSA.
    • Bed Bugs are nocturnal. It is very uncommon to see them during the day.
    • Bed bug activity is triggered by the CO2 the we exhale, and the heat that we emit.
    • Bed bugs inject an anticoagulant into the bite, which causes a histaminic reaction that leads to the development of welts and itching.
  • However, about 30% of the general population does not develop welts and itching!
  • Bed bug nymphs (immature bed bugs) take 3 minutes to feed. Adults may feed for 10 to 15 minutes.
  • They will hide as they digest the blood.
  • Bed bug bites are generally painless.
  • Bed bugs do NOT fly, but they crawl very fast!
  • Bed bugs will hide almost anywhere, but they prefer something with a texture, such as cloth and wood.
  • Females may lay from 1-12 eggs per day.
  • The eggs hatch in 6-17 days.
  • It takes anywhere from 21-120 days, for the eggs to develop into mature bed bugs, depending on the air temperature.
    • Bed bugs are hard to kill. No “over the counter” pesticide is effective.
    • “Bug bombs” designed to kill flying insects only scatter bed bugs.
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The Bed Bug’s Life Cycle

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Bed Bug Detection

  • Although it is very uncommon to see a bed bug out in the open, they do leave tell-tale signs of their presence.
  • Remember that bed bugs love to hide, so you will most often see their signs near their hiding places.
  • Box springs, baseboards, receptacles and switches and the nooks and crannies of furniture are prime places for bed bugs to hide!
  • There are three signs that bed bugs leave behind:
    • Shed skins;
    • “Blood spots;”
    • “Fecal spots” (bed bug manure.)
  • Fecal spots are small brownish/blackish specks that are often found in the seams and corners of mattresses.
  • “Blood spots” are residual blood that the bed bug regurgitates.
  • Every phase of the bed bug’s life cycle requires that they shed their exoskeleton (skin) so that they can grow, so that you’ll notice many of them wherever the infestation is heavy.
  • Bed bugs emit odors that are detectable to especially trained dogs.
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Are You Itching to Avoid an Infestation?

Always wear disposable shoe covers when on – scene. Take the shoe covers off after you’ve left the building. Put them in a sealed plastic bag and throw them in the trash.

  • Some jurisdiction are recommending responders wear full tyvek suits. We do NOT recommend this.
  • Bunker gear should not be taken into living quarters. Keep it in the engine bays
  • If your bunker gear will tolerate it, put it in the dryer for 30 minutes on the highest heat setting
  • Always use shoe covers whenever you are in a high-risk environment. (Apartments, schools, health care facilities social service agencies.)
  • Tuck your pant legs into your socks and boots.
  • Inspect you boots carefully before re-entering the engine or medic or returning to the fire house.
  • Consider designating a pair of boots that are used only on runs to high-risk facilities. Store them in a sealed plastic bag until they can be placed in a dryer for 30 minutes.
  • Leave your work clothes at the fire house at the end of your shift.
  • Put the dirty laundry in a sealed bag and leave it there until it can be washed. Put the clean clothes in the dryer. After they are completely dry, reset the dryer for another 30 minutes .
  • All bunks should be covered with “mattress encasements” which are like envelopes that completely enclose the mattress and zip closed. Do NOT use the plastic covers – they tear too easily.
  • If there is limited storage space in the bunk room, anything that cannot be put into a locker must be stored in a tightly sealed plastic container.
  • Unit personnel should strip their bunk at the end of their shift. Pillows and must be placed in a sealed plastic bag. Linens must be placed in a plastic bag or washed.

At Home:

  • Inspect everything that is not sealed in its original packaging before you take it into the house
  • Seal new or used clothing that you’ve bought in a plastic bag and wash and dry in a hot dryer for at least 15 minutes;
  • If you’ve been traveling, leave your luggage in the garage or outside. Empty the clothing and other washable items into a large trash bag. Leave them in the garage until they can be washed and dried. After they are completely dry to the touch, reset the dryer on high heat and tumble for 30 minutes.

Sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite!

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