1. Know what they look like
People call us all the time and "think" that they have bed bugs when they really have some insect that looks nothing like a bed bug. Everyone should know what they look like so if you see one, you can kill it quick! Unfortunately, bed bugs can hitchhike on your clothing from just about anywhere (move theaters, changing rooms, etc.), so you should always be on the lookout.
2. Don't take home that perfectly nice piece of furniture marked "free" on the street corner
A big reason why people sell furniture is because it is infested with bed bugs and sometimes it is easier to get rid of it then to have a pest control company treat it. You should be very leery about buying furniture from Craigslist. You would not be the first person I talked to that bought something on Craigslist and brought home a bed bug infestation. If you find a deal that you just can't pass up, take a look at it closely, especially crack, crevices and tight places. Bed bugs leave fecal matter and shed their skin, so if you see anything like this, stay away!
3. Don't let people crash on your couch
Obviously you probably are not in the habit of allowing random people to sleep in your house, but people get bed bug infestations from letting a friend spend the night all the time. Especially if the person crashing on the couch has been crashing on multiple other couches recently. I would just try and avoid this altogether if you can politely do so.
4. Keep things off the ground in your hotel room
Bed bugs are not necessarily "trying" to hitchhike, they just find a place to hide and take it. Sometimes that hiding place is something that goes home with you like your suitcase. People that bring them home generally leave their suitcase, shoes or other items next to the bed on the floor. Next time you stay in a hotel room, do the following things. First, lift the mattress and look for bugs, fecal matter, or skins. If you notice that the mattress has a bed bug encasement, that might be a clue as well. Second, even if you don't see anything, put your suitcase and other belongings on a table as far away from the bed as possible. If you want to be super safe, you can put your stuff in the bathtub.
5. Wash your clothes when you get home
Sometimes you just can't avoid coming in contact with places where bed bugs are at. Since they come from hotels, public transportation, airplanes, changing rooms and many other places you probably wouldn't expect, you need to be careful. If you are in doubt, come home and throw your clothes in the wash and they will not survive. Even the dryer on high heat for about 30 minutes will get the job done.
Listen bed bugs are bad news and they are very costly to have a pest control company in the Seattle area take care of them. The average bed bug extermination in the Seattle area is about $750 per room. If you live in the Seattle area and need to get a pest control company out to help you, please give me a call. You can also call New Leaf Pest Control if you are near the Portland, Oregon area. Otherwise, I would appreciate your comments below.