DIY Bed Bug Treatment Attempt Accidentally Results in Massive Fire
Bed bugs were once nearly eradicated from the U.S. But in recent years they’ve come back worse than ever, beefed up from decades of exposure to insecticides and helped along by an increase in global travel and a decrease in public knowledge of how to fight them.
Trust me: You do not want these things getting anywhere near your house. They leave disgusting welts, can hide anywhere, are beyond the ability of all but the most obsessive amateur to control, and the internet is littered with horror stories about failed attempts to eradicate them. Although an infestation can happen to anyone, they carry a huge social stigma. But if bed bugs do happen to you, please don’t try to spray them with alcohol near open flames.
Per the Washington Post, on Friday night a woman set a multi-family residence ablaze in Cincinnati’s Avondale neighborhood after spraying alcohol on the insects near either a candle or incense. As a result of the ensuing blaze, Fox 19 reported, at least three people had to go to the hospital. At least 10 people cannot return to the building, which sustained $250,000 in damage.
According to Fox 19, the Cincinnati Fire Department says the incident is the second fire started by someone trying to kill bed bugs in the last two weeks alone. Per CBS, the last fire involved someone spraying the critters with alcohol and setting them on fire, though the individual responsible for that incident was a 13-year-old boy.
This all really sucks for the people involved, and unfortunately, it’s part of a trend. As the Post noted, surveys in recent years have shown high bed bug infestation rates across the U.S. at the same time they’re getting more difficult to kill. The result has been a number of incidents in which DIY extermination attempts went wrong.
Since 2006, the cost of exterminating the things has shot to an estimated $250 million across the U.S. annually. In some places like New York City, stringent pest-control laws require landlords to cover the cost of a professional exterminator—elsewhere, in places with differing laws, renters might be given the unpleasant choice between paying hundreds or even thousands of dollars for a professional or trying to wipe out the infestation themselves.
For those stuck dealing with these evil vampires, a Science News report from 2013 noted that rubbing alcohol is a subpar solution, as it only works on direct contact and even then kills only about half of the bugs in laboratory conditions. Other solutions with a bad track record included mothballs and essential oils.
Credits to: Gizmodo-Tom McKay
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