<<< guest post by Liz Greene >>>
Picture the perfect family vacation. After spending the day playing together, enjoying a delicious meal at the best local restaurant, and taking loads of pictures to capture all the happy memories, you’re tucking your kids into the cushy hotel bed. As you lean over to give them that last goodnight kiss, you repeat the old adage, “Goodnight, sleep tight, don’t let the bedbugs bite.”
But wait — did you actually check for bedbugs?
For a while, it seemed that bedbugs had disappeared from our collective consciousness. Thanks to DDT and the removal of slums in the mid-twentieth century, the little pests became far less of a problem than they had been before. But then they came back — with a vengeance. According to Time.com, this is in part thanks to a frankly amazing propensity for inbreeding, pesticide resistance, and increased world travel, we’ve seen a resurgence of epic proportions.
The key to help avoid spreading bed bugs is by not letting them hitch a ride home with you from your travels and the hotels you stay in.
Head to the Bathroom
The moment you open the door to your hotel room, head straight for the bathroom. Stash your luggage, coats, hats, and other cloth items there until you’ve inspected your room for signs of bed bugs. Why the bathroom? The non-porous flooring gives bed bugs nowhere to hide — and makes them a lot easier to spot should they scurry across the floor.
Inspect the Room
When inspecting the room, you’ll be looking for both bedbugs and evidence they’ve been there. Pesticide company Terro.com states that adults are light brown or reddish in appearance, and about the size of an apple seed. Nymphs are almost clear, but can appear red and swollen after feeding. They can leave behind evidence such as dead skin, black stains from fecal matter, and rust-colored spots where they’ve been squished.
Start by checking the bed as that’s where bedbugs often hang out. Un-tuck the sheets and examine the perimeter of the mattress and box spring, as well as along and behind the headboard. Look at the dust ruffle and pillows as well.
Next, look at potential hiding places near the bed. Go through drawers and crevices in the bedside table, investigate the space under the lamp, telephone, and notepads. Look under picture frames above the bed.
Do a final inspection of any other upholstered furniture, rugs, drapes, in cracks in the luggage rack, and along the baseboards in the closet.
If You Find Bedbugs
If you find bedbugs — or signs of bedbug activity — alert management at once and request a different room at least two floors away, in case the infestation has spread. Hipmunk.com reported that in many states, hotels are not legally allowed to have guests stay in a room with a bedbug problem.
Once you’ve been moved, start the inspection process over.
If You Don’t Find Bedbugs
Even if your room is free of bedbugs, the risk isn’t entirely gone. Unfortunately, bedbugs can travel through the walls from room to room. It’s a good idea to maintain a few protective measures throughout your stay. Keep your bags and clothing off beds, upholstered furniture, and the floor. Instead, leave them on tile in the bathroom, or the previously inspected luggage rack.
When You Get Home
Before leaving the hotel, sort anything that can be laundered into plastic bags. Separate the laundry like you would if you were doing laundry at home. This makes it easy to load them straight into the washing machine when you get home. When washing, set your washer and dryer for the hottest setting that the fabric can withstand.
It seems a tad bit paranoid to do this each time you travel, but the realities of a bedbug infestation are horrifying. While they don’t spread disease, they can leave a dramatic mark on your mental well-being. And let’s face it, what you really want to bring home from vacation is souvenirs and happy memories — not an infestation.
Liz Greene hails from the beautiful city of trees, Boise, Idaho. She’s a lover of all things geek and is happiest when cuddling with her dogs and catching up on the latest Marvel movies. You can follow her on Twitter @LizVGreene