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Most of the college students we know have already left for fall semester and have moved into their dorm rooms. Hopefully, the upperclassmen have been able to choose their roommates from among their friends of last year; freshmen are just crossing their fingers that they don’t get the craziest kid in the dorm. But human roommates aren’t all there is to worry about. Dorm rooms could also harbor bed bugs.

How to avoid problems with bed bugs in your dorm room?

Inspect your room–Before you unpack everything, do the same inspection you would do to a hotel room. Check seams of mattresses, behind anything hanging on the wall, cracks in bedframes, upholstered chairs and drawers for signs of bed bugs.

Check used furniture–There were days when college students would find and claim perfectly good used furniture off street corners and curbs to use in both on-campus and off-campus housing. Now that furniture is more likely to have been discarded because of a bed bug infestation. In fact, in Colorado, couches are popping up all over, but no one is taking them home. Inspect any used furniture very carefully and if you have the least suspicion of bed bugs, don’t bring it home.

Make your bed–Keep linens off the floor where bed bugs might be looking for an easy way up to their favorite hiding place.

Segregate bags–Create a place for visitors’ backpacks and other bags to go when they come in, rather than throwing their stuff on your bed or upholstered chairs. Anyone can get bed bugs and they are equal opportunity pests, able to move from room to room or even dorm to dorm. They might be hitching a ride to your room via your friend’s bookbag.

If you discover that your dorm room does have bed bugs, don’t panic and don’t keep it to yourself. Tell your building staff and your resident advisor immediately! It’s not your fault and no one living in a dormitory plans to bring bed bugs along, but it will get worse for you and spread to your neighbors if you don’t tell anyone. And remember–heat treatment is the best way to get rid of these persistent pests!

Best of luck to all college students for a new school year!