Bed Bugs: Don't Bring Them Home
Bed bugs in your bed?
Traveling for leisure and business is quite a part of life. In fact, it’s estimated that about 1.5 billion people travel each year. Crossing continents, time zones or even state lines carry some inherent problems. While custom officers are particular about you bringing home certain foods and plants, they may not be aware that you’re carrying more than your luggage home. Are you unknowingly giving a ride to some happy hitchhikers? Are there little critters hitching a ride on your suitcases or clothes, waiting to launch a pest infestation in your home? We’re talking bed bugs—there has been a recent resurgence of these blood-sucking annoying parasites according the Centers for Disease Control. The problem is worldwide due to an increase in air travel, changes in pest control strategy and pesticide resistance. Once the uninvited guests enter your home, getting rid of them can be costly and emotionally stressful since efforts to eradicate them may not be immediately successful.
Bed bugs are small, like little seeds, measuring anywhere from 5 to 9 millimeters long (1/4” to 3/8”). Usually red brown, these critters hide in all kinds of premises from hotels to theaters to dormitories. These pesky pests feed off blood of humans and animals and they thrive where people congregate. Their bites leave tiny red bumps that are sometimes itchy. Some people may develop strong allergic reactions. They travel well and often inconspicuously on personal belongings and bringing bed bugs home from your travels is one possibility you want to avoid at all cost. Read on for some effective preventive measures.
- · Do Your Homework
Bed bugs don’t discriminate—they can be found in cheap or expensive hotels. How do you know if the hotel you intending to stay in is bed-bug free? Thanks to sites like TripAdvisor, The Bedbug Registry and Bedbugger.com, you can. Check the bed bug status of the hotel—has there been any bed bug complaint? Although online research is helpful, a bed bug free report doesn’t necessarily mean the hotel is pest-free. Some infestations go unreported, which is why you should never skip the next precaution.
- · Inspect Your Hotel Room
Once you’re assigned a room, do some sleuth work. You can never be too careful. Arm yourself with a flashlight if possible and do some spot checking. Inspect the mattress, remove sheets and look at the seams, check headboard, side tables, sofa, closet and any built-in furniture. Beg bugs are also known to hide in cracks and crevices as well. Live bugs are easier to spot—they are the size of lentil and though they can’t fly, they are quick crawlers, adept at hiding. Tiny drops of blood may indicate that the bed bugs are active and have been feasting on human blood. Fecal droppings resemble tiny pencil dots. If your sleuth work turns out positive, seek alternative lodging.
How to Prevent Bed Bugs from Spreading
- · Keep Bed Bugs Away
Bed bugs can be sneaky. They latch onto belongings, luggage and clothing included. Resist the tendency to lay your suitcase on the bed and start unpacking your clothes once you get to the hotel room. Instead, put your suitcase on the luggage stand (be sure to inspect it first). Expert sources also suggest putting your suitcase on the bathroom floor since bed bugs don’t normally thrive in the non-carpeted areas. Remove clothing or personal items such as toiletry bags or cosmetic pouches only when you’re using them. Before putting any item away in the suitcase, inspect it first. Always keep your suitcase closed when not in use. You want to give the bed bugs zero opportunity to contaminate your belongings.
- · Bag Used Clothing
Ziploc bags or any sealed plastic bags can come in handy when implementing your own pest control. Bag any item of clothing that may come into contact with bed bugs. That include clothes you wear while in the hotel room, especially pajamas. Put them in a sealed plastic bag to isolate them from other items in your suitcase.
- · Do Your Laundry
High temperature is one way to zap these bed bugs. When you get home from your trip, make sure your suitcase is not plopped on carpeted areas of your house—these crawlies are good at exploring. Carry the suitcase directly to the laundry room instead. Wash and dry all your dirty laundry, a great way to annihilate any bed bugs. The University of Maryland Medical Center advises that you set the washer and dryer for the hottest setting your fabric can withstand. If you’ve clean clothes, you may want to take extra precaution and run them through the drier. If you suspect your suitcase is contaminated, wash it with soapy hot water (the hotter the better) and brush out the seams and folds. Some experts also suggest using insect spray like Deet to knock out them these pesky freeloaders.
Some of these measures may seem a bit too extreme but you can’t take chances when it comes to pests. They are difficult to get rid off once they have established a foothold but why let them? Travel wisely and you don’t have to let the bed bugs bite.
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