The holidays bring joy to most of us – usually in the form of traveling to see family and friends some of whom we only get to see on such occasions. However it’s not just close friends or family that you may be sharing the holiday season with. There is something even potentially closer to you that you may be sharing or someone else may be sharing with you – bed bugs. Bed bugs are increasing in staggering numbers. The once nearly extinct blood suckers have not only returned but are stronger than ever.
Why are the bed bugs thriving? Bed bugs are masters of adapting. In particular, bed bugs have become resistant to nearly all pyrethroid based insecticides which includes nearly all insecticides on the market today. They are also masters of hitchhiking. They are lousy at transporting themselves with their own legs, but incredible at hitching a ride on or in a purse, jacket, luggage, clothing, books, and almost anything that we come in contact with and bring with us from point a to point b. Their survival depends on their ability to jump on and go for a ride.
So as you are traveling this season, what can you do to protect yourself? The best answer for this problem is knowledge. Knowing what to look for is the best thing you can do to keep you safe from bed bugs. Before you lay your head down on an unfamiliar pillow, and no matter how tired you are from traveling, pull the entire bed apart. Carefully strip all linens (carefully in case there are bed bugs – the last thing you want to do is fling bed bug filled sheets all over you and your luggage!) and comforter. Try to roll everything into itself and carefully put them in the bathtub for the moment. Now you can get to work. You should see a clean, nice mattress. If you see any spots or bugs then get out!
If you can clear the mattress, then go looking further. Check bed frames, headboards, nightstands, corners of the carpet, and base boards. Hopefully at this point nothing has surfaced and you can start putting things back together and lay your weary head down.
After all the turkey sandwiches and in-laws you can handle, you will probably be heading home. Before you step in your front door, take all of your luggage to your garage or if you don’t have a garage, find a place in your home preferably with hard floors and take a thorough look through all of your luggage. Bed bugs can and will hitch a ride on or in your luggage from the cargo area of airplanes or someone else’s luggage next to yours. This is a critical step in the process. I have had countless customers who have ended up with bed bugs with no idea how they got there. Put all laundry directly in the wash. If you have more than you can wash at one time, put your clothes in a garbage bag until you can wash them. If you can expose your empty luggage to heat, that would be a good idea. At the very least, store your luggage in garbage bags and wait until you have a hot day outside or a very cold day, then put the luggage outdoors in the extreme temperatures for a couple days.
Happy holidays & safe travels!