The Oh-So-Wrong Way to Get Rid of Bedbugs (and What to Do Instead)
A Detroit woman accidentally burned down her apartment complex trying to eradicate pests
Sherry Young of Detroit managed to eradicate bedbugs from her home, but the results were more extreme than what she anticipated: She burned down her apartment complex in the process.
The distraught Young, who wept as she apologized for the accident, had been “in a state of torment” from the biting bugs, according to the Detroit Free Press. The day before the fire, she had turned on her oven and stove to heat up the apartment on the advice of a neighbor, who told her that would kill the pests.
What she did the following day was the real misstep. After sleeping in her car all night to escape the bedbugs, she doused herself with rubbing alcohol and entered her apartment. She then poured rubbing alcohol on the floor — where the fumes ignited near the stove — and was burned while trying to escape. The fire raged through the complex, destroying all 48 units and injuring four other people, including three firefighters.
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"I didn't know that the fumes were so ignitable," Young told reporters from her hospital bed.
The fire department agreed the fire was accidental. "There was no malicious intent there," Fire Chief Charles Simms said.
Exterminators sometimes heat houses to kill bedbugs, but renters and homeowners should leave that strategy to professionals, experts say.
The steps to safely getting rid of bedbugs start with putting any infested clutter, such as old newspapers and magazines, into plastic bags. Next, vacuum. Bug-proof the bed by encasing the mattress in a mattress cover, and wash sheets, blankets and any affected clothing in hot water and dry them on the hottest setting.
Check out more tips from the SafeBee primer How to Get Rid of Bedbugs.