Hurricane Irene met with the entire east coast this past week. Unfortunately there was a lot of damage caused by the storm – including flooding from the rain and structural damage due to winds. However, due to the mandatory evacuations of over 370,000 people in New York alone, many may notice a new problem when they get back home: bed bugs.

It’s not that the storm brought in the bed bugs. On the contrary, they were already here. The problem is that in the haste of leaving their homes and running for the shelters or hotels, it is highly probable that people who were already infested brought the little travelers along for the ride. “Bed bugs are incredibly good hitch-hikers and will easily hop on to the nearest mode of transportation to get to a new location – eg. clothes, shoes or luggage. As a result, if you stayed at one of these shelters during the storm and came in contact with someone who had bed bugs, there is a good chance they are now sticking with you. In fact, one of the main causes for the recent bed bug epidemic is believed to be increased travel and lack of awareness,” explains Jerry Quinlan, Entomologist for Assured Environments.

Luckily, there are ways to be proactive and ensure that you will not spread the bed bugs throughout your house when you get home. “The first step prior to going into your house and unpacking is of course visual inspection. Although small, bed bugs can still be seen by the naked eye. Shake out your clothes outside your house and then check for any crawlers on the different articles. Next, since heat above 122 F will kill every life stage of bed bugs, the easiest thing to do is to wash all of your clothes using hot water and dry your clothes on the highest settings. If your clothes are not suitable for the machines, dry cleaning the clothes will also work,” says Quinlan.

Laundering and dry-cleaning all of your clothes however, can be a very expensive and time-consuming process. To that end, an alternative option is to use products like the Bed Bug Annihilator, which is a specially designed, insulated heat chamber that heats up in minutes and will kill bed bugs after they are exposed to the lethal temperature in 60 seconds. Once the particular heat solution has been applied, vacuuming any of the items will certainly go a long way in getting rid of your problem and giving you the peace of mind you deserve.

Another proactive option to keep bed bug infestations at bay is to use an all-natural, enzyme solution such as Cimex Rest Assured. Cimex can be sprayed on any potentially infested articles and this odorless, non-staining, non-flammable formula – which is completely safe to humans and pets – kills bed bugs virtually on contact.

These same strategies can be applied on a regular or even daily basis – especially if you have children that may possibly bring back bed bugs from their school. Even the cleanest of people and children can attract bed bugs and schools and dorms are therefore great havens for these bugs to spread to anyone without prejudice. In fact the NYS Department of Education reported that there were 3x as many bed bug complaints this year in the public school system than the year before. It is therefore a very real possibility for your children to bring bed bugs home with them.

The Bed Bug Annihilator and Cimex Rest Assured are great products that can be used on a proactive or daily basis. The Cimex spray can even be carried around in a bag or purse and be used in an instant when trying on clothes in a store or on your chair before you sit down in the theater or on your hotel bed before going to sleep. Of course, the best line of defense against bed bugs is knowledge.

To learn more about bed bugs and how to protect yourself and reduce your risk of bed bug infestations, contact Assured Environments at 646-783-5138.