Living Space: Avoid bringing bed bugs home from vacation
By Kathryn Weber
June 7, 2012 at 1:07 a.m.
A chance to relax and escape the everyday demands of work and home is a real reward, but today's vacations bring with an extra worry besides airline baggage fees: bed bugs. Once rarely seen, these blood-sucking creatures are appearing with a vengeance at the very places we go to escape - hotels and vacation rentals. But worse than finding bed bugs on vacation is bringing them home.
Do some research
Before making hotel reservations, do a quick search online to see if bed bugs have been reported at the hotel or rental you've chosen. Sites list hotels and other locations where bed bugs have been spotted.
While these sites can sometimes be in error, if you spot multiple listings and a number of bed bug sites reported within a specific area, it's possible this is a bed bug "hot spot."
To be certain you'll get a good night's sleep, also check out hotel reviews on travel websites to confirm the presence of bed bugs, or to see if there are other problems at specific hotels. Certain cities are also at a higher risk for bed bug infestations, so it helps to know which ones have had the most problems.
Oddly, even smaller, non-metropolitan cities have had problems with bed bugs. Orkin lists 50 U.S. cities ranked in order of the number of bed bug treatments performed from January to April 2011.
Once your research is complete, inspecting your vacation rental or hotel room upon arrival could prevent bed bugs from hitching a ride home with you. Check the bed sheets, comforter, and the seams of the mattress and box spring. Lift the mattress and look underneath, where bed bugs like to hide. Check for tell-tale pinpoint spots of blood. Examine the headboard, too, because bed bugs will hide in joints in the wood.
While you're in the room, avoid putting clothes or luggage on the floor because bed bugs can crawl inside. Pull the luggage rack away from the wall to stop bed bugs from crawling inside.
The most common sign that you've slept with bed bugs is the itchy red bumps they leave behind. If you wake up with bites, notify the hotel manager immediately to request a new room, or move to another hotel.
When you get home, take steps to avoid bringing these pests into the house. Undress in the garage and bag your clothing and luggage in garbage bags, tied tightly and sealed with duct tape. If you do develop a problem, contact a pest control company experienced with bed bugs. Treating these pests is not a do-it-yourself job.
Kathryn Weber is a home and decorating columnist and publishes the Red Lotus Letter feng shui ezine. For more information, contact Weber through her website, redlotusletter.com.