Spring cleaning and summer travel could mean accidentally inviting some unwanted guests into your home: bed bugs. The vampire-like critters can catch a ride home in your luggage, or in the luggage of out-of-town visitors. Extermination can be costly and time-consuming, so to save time and money, there are a few tips you can follow to keep you and your home bug-free.
- Place luggage in a hotel bath tub
When traveling, you will want to inspect your hotel room before settling in. So, place your luggage in the bathtub during your inspection. Bed bugs can’t hold onto the slick, curved surface of a tub, so your luggage while be safe.
- Pack a powerful flashlight
To aid in your inspection of your room, you’re going to need a good flashlight. It doesn’t have to be big or costly, just bright enough to inspect dark crevices.
- Look for fecal specks, skins or bugs
During your inspection, pull the sheets off the bed and remove the headboard. You want to look for fecal specks, which can look like mold spots, skin casing, or the bugs themselves. If you find any of the three, contact the hotel’s front desk and ask to be assigned to a new room. Otherwise, the creepy critters may hitchhike home with you.
- Inspect all new/ gently used furniture
Whether you’re buying furniture from a consignment store, inheriting it from a relative, or renting it from a big box store, be sure to inspect it before putting it to use. Older furniture tends to be a hot bed for bed bugs because a lot of people don’t even realize the bed bugs are there, unless they get bitten. When buying or renting a piece of furniture, inspect it thoroughly before allowing it to find a permanent spot in your home.
- Be mindful of potential high-risk situations
Bed bugs are not discriminatory, so they will hitchhike with anyone. Once innocent pastimes like sleepovers or going to camp can suddenly become a chance for bed bugs to hitch a ride. That’s why it is important to inspect your child’s belongings when he or she comes home. Don’t get me wrong, I am certainly not advocating against sleepovers or camp, I just simply believe education is the first line of defense against bed bugs. The sooner bed bugs are detected, the sooner treatment can be applied and the sooner the problem is eradicated.
- Lack of bites does not always mean lack of bugs
Just because you don’t have any bite marks, does not mean you do not have bed bugs. Only 1 in 3 people have allergic reactions to bites. For others, it can take 10 days to two weeks for a welt to develop from a bite, thus allowing for further infestation before a homeowner becomes aware of the problem. That is why inspection is crucial.
As you pack your bags this summer, just remember to keep an eye out for bed bugs. A quick five-minute inspection at the start of your trip will help ensure that good memories are the only thing you bring home with you.
Photo Credit: Maurizio Pesce