Resident Advisors: the front line of defense against bed bug infestations…
By now you may have already seen the headlines notifying the public of just how prevalent bed bug infestations have become in recent years. More recently, we are beginning to witness an increasing occurrence of bed bugs in university and college housing. To help combat this occurrence, BedBug Central recommends that housing officials and residential directors utilize residential advisors to education and awareness of the problem among students.
Awareness Created Through Resident Advisors
The initial task for residential advisors should be to inform their residents that bed bugs are an emerging problem and represent a legitimate concern when introduced into student housing. While this information seems commonplace, BedBug Central representative, Bart Jones, says he routinely speaks to parents and students that don’t really believe bed bugs are a concern.
“I recently went to consult clients for an in-home service and they mentioned that they were just about to send their first child to college,” said Jones. “When I asked how much they knew about bed bugs they said that they have only heard about them in passing and didn’t think they were a concern for college students.”
Jones acknowledges that this perspective is typical and it mostly stems from a lack of awareness about what conditions carry a higher-risk for exposure. It will be up to resident advisors to fill this knowledge gap for students.
Key Awareness Points that Residential Advisors Should Cover:
1. Bed bugs represent a considerable problem for everyone and are not only associated with poverty. Additionally, bed bugs routinely affect all socio-economic levels.
2. Factors such as poor sanitation or hygiene have no bearing on whether or not one is prone to infestations.
3. Bed bugs need to be introduced into a building or floor for an infestation to occur.
4. The communal nature of student housing lends itself to extensive bed bug infestations.
5. Once an infestation occurs bed bug can be spread or be carried from room-to-room easily. For more information on key awareness points visit BedBug Central’s History and Resurgence page.
How Residential Advisors can Promote Prevention
Once building residents are made aware of the fact that bed bugs represent a growing concern for students and universities, the next message an RA should convey should be about preventive behaviors that can decrease the number of infestations that a building experiences.
Key Prevention Tips Points Residential Advisors Should Cover:
Key steps in prevention include understanding behaviors that often lead to infestations and knowing how to detect bed bugs early. If students are aware of these behaviors and warning signs, they can take preventative step and stay vigilant.
1. Avoiding discarded curbside or second-hand furniture. Second-hand furniture such as sofa, beds, and chairs are some of the biggest culprits for introducing bed bugs into a living space. In fact, second-hand furniture is often initially discarded because it is infested.
2. Being able to recognize symptoms such as dark spotting or blood droplets on your mattress can be indicators an infestation. You will also want to be aware of bite marks that form itchy, raised welts after a night of sleep. For more additional prevention tips visit our avoiding infestation section.
3. Safer Travel. Whenever a resident goes on vacation, travels or studies abroad they run the risk of bringing bed bugs back to student housing. Knowing how to conduct a basic inspection of a hotel mattress can go a long way. For more tips on safer travel please view our travel guide—PDF.
It’s important to remember that most entomologists agree that one of the key contributing factors to the pervasiveness of bed bugs is a general lack of public awareness. The list above is in no way comprehensive and we recommend that RA’s visit BedBugs 101 for additional information.
Submitted by Calvin Allen, Public Relations Associate, Cooper Pest Solutions & BedBug Central