I have been involved in heat sterilizing numerous families as they moved to new homes. To date I have had no one come back to me and state the process was unsuccessful. Of course I can not take a lack of negative feed back as proof that we succeeded – perhaps some families just went on living with the bugs. But many families have responded and stated that they were very grateful for the service and they continue living bug free.
When I become involved in a move I spend a considerable amount of time educating the folks about prevention protocols and most families are very interested in hearing what I have to say and act on my recommendations. Some families, however, treat my service as a magic panacea. For example, I was recently involved in chemically treating a severe infestation in a landlord’s apartment block. The tenant refused to cooperate and was evicted as a result. A social service agency then arranged to have their belongings heat sterilized before they moved. And I ended up being the heat sterilizer.
I showed up to pick up furniture and immediately noted that most of the furniture was not available for heating. I then took the social service agency rep and the tenant through the suite and pointed out all the items that could be infested. These items were then brought to the trailer. We were finally loaded when I asked about their Bibles and school text books (I had noted previously they were infested and the tenants refused to address them). The tenant stated the books were not infested and I challenged the person to bring them to me so I could show the agency rep. The books were brought and the tell tale bed bug marks were obvious. There were even squished blood marks between the pages! The books then went into the trailer. I then asked about the infested math text book I had seen during previous treatments. The tenant stated it was in a locker at school and was not available for heating!! So what is the likelihood this heat sterilizing job will be successful? I figure about 10%. Heating furniture without prevention protocols is doomed to failure.
One tenant I brought into my apartment block also experienced similar difficulties. I agreed to accept an infested tenant on the premise that everything be heat sterilized. The tenant admitted that she had already seen the bugs at work and I advised her on all the precautions that would be required to eliminate the risk from the work place. One month after moving in my monitoring showed bed bugs in the interceptors. Upon questioning it was determined that the tenant had not followed the prevention protocols at work. Nice….
On the other hand many of my infested new tenants did cooperate and succeeded in moving bug free. What we learn here is that heat sterilizing furniture without education and diligent prevention protocols is doomed to failure. Bug free moving requires both heating and prevention.