Bed bugs are a potential threat to any commercial and residential spaces, but in healthcare settings, they are especially frightening, as an infestation can compromise the health and well-being of the patients cared for within.
Whether you’re a first responder or a member of the staff in an assisted living facility, there’s no time like the present to be brought up to speed about bed bugs. Below, learn how you can protect yourself, your workspace, and your patients from bed bug infestations.
Always Inspect: Looking for Signs of Bed Bugs
It would be a mistake not to consistently check your facility’s sleeping quarters and furniture for bed bugs. You should follow a policy of “always inspect,” checking for signs of bed bugs on mattresses, couches, chairs, headboards, and bunk beds whenever you can.
You should also check any bags and clothing storage areas for bed bugs. These pests often burrow into personal belongings, making it easy for them to spread and even easier to miss.
Use a flashlight and look for small red, orange, brown, or black bugs whenever you visit a new place. If you visit patients’ homes, for instance, express respectful caution upon entering and place your belongings in a safe place until you can thoroughly inspect each home.
Seal Items in Plastic Bags
If a place you’re visiting gives you reason to suspect the appearance of bed bugs, place all of your items into sealed plastic bags. Doing so will ensure that the pests are unable to travel onto your possessions and make their way into other settings.
Bed bugs that have already made contact with your belongings will soon become visible in sealed plastic bags. From there, you can then make a plan to safely heat-treat and wash the affected items.
Vacuum Often and Practice Good Hygiene With Bedding
Bed bug prevention starts with good hygiene practices, including vacuuming and washing bedding.
Floors and mattresses are hotspots for bed bugs, but thankfully, vacuuming has been shown to reduce bed bug populations significantly. While you’re on the job, make sure that you vacuum your workspace regularly, especially if you’re working near or on a carpeted area.
On that note, it’s also important to wash and dry bedding materials on high heat settings regularly, as the extreme heat kills bed bugs and ensures that they are unable to reproduce and further infest a space.
You may not always spot bed bugs in your facility’s mattresses or bedding, so it’s important not to forgo these steps.
Keep Your Belongings Away From Furniture and Bedding
Sealing your belongings is a good practice, as mentioned above, but that isn’t always an option.
Given that bed bugs tend to thrive in furniture and bedding, do your best to keep your personal belongings away from these spaces. With that said, you can work to reduce your risk of exposure to bed bugs by keeping items on the floor away from furniture and mattresses, especially if you’re working in a new patient’s home or other personal spaces.
Sit on Hard Surfaces and Avoid Upholstery
Upholstered furniture is a common breeding ground for bed bugs, so when you choose to sit while at a patient’s home or other personal space, avoid lounging on such fixtures. Instead, bring your own hard folding chair or opt for another hard surface. It might be a bit uncomfortable, but temporary discomfort is a small price to pay for avoiding bed bug infestations.
Avoid Bed Bug Risks Using These Tips
You don’t have to risk the health and cleanliness of your own space and others’ when you work in healthcare. By preventing the spread of bed bugs, you can avoid much hassle and discomfort down the road.
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