Two things that people of our city love are upon us; warm weather and ‘free stuff’. You must be wondering what I mean by ‘free stuff’ so let me explain. Part of my job as Bed Bug Prevention and Outreach Coordinator is to walk the streets of our neighbourhood looking for bulky waste to report to the City of Winnipeg. Often the bulky waste is really nice looking furniture including couches, dressers and mattresses. Many who see this stuff think to themselves that they have ‘won the jackpot’. I mean, who wouldn’t want free furniture. Well, experience tells me that, although this stuff may be free, it is not a gift by any definition. I can almost guarantee you one of two things: the furniture is either broken or it has bed bugs. I have gone into countless homes of people whose bed bug issues coincided with their new back alley find. This is no coincidence; no one that I have ever met would throw out perfectly good furniture, not one. So, as you enjoy our beautiful spring and summer, remember these wise words- “if it’s too good to be true, it probably is.”
Along the same lines, purchasing items online, at second hand stores or at garage sales also pose a bed bug risk, especially furniture. With that in mind, here are a few tips. When purchasing clothing or linens (new or used), or have some given to you, make sure to go straight home and put these items in the dryer (on high heat) for at least twenty minutes. This will ensure that any critters that might be on the items will no longer be alive. Make sure to also tie up the bag it came in and throw it straight into the garbage. Furniture is a bit trickier, especially couches. The best thing I can tell you is to know what the signs of a bed bug infestation look like. There are many resources on the internet, including my website (www.bitebackwpg.com), that can show you what you should be looking for but I will say for certain that there is no 100 percent, fool proof way of knowing; there will always be a risk with used furniture.