Food. Family. Traveling. Visitors. Like it or not, these are all parts of the holiday cheer. And while your in-laws may seem pesky, they could be the least of your troubles if you develop a bed bug infestation.
Unfortunately, bed bugs are on the rise. And that spells bad news for travelers and homeowners alike. Given their excellent hitchhiking abilities, bed bugs can travel from one home to the next fairly easily. That’s why the holidays can leave you particularly vulnerable to an infestation.
But before you cancel your travel plans, there are several things you can do to ensure your home remains bug-free heading into the New Year.
If you’re jetting out of town for the holidays, keep a close eye on your luggage to make sure you don’t bring any unwanted guests home with you. Because airports are particularly crowded around the holidays, bed bugs could be lurking on the luggage next to you or in the baggage claim area. If you aren’t careful, they could catch a ride on your suitcase.
When you reach your destination, whether it be your family’s home or your own, be sure to thoroughly inspect your bags. For an extra layer of protection, throw your luggage into a Packtite, a portable heater that will kill any bed bugs that you missed during a visual inspection. If you are staying in a hotel, store your luggage in the bathtub (a place bed bugs cannot creep) and inspect the bed and headboard for signs of bugs before settling in.
If you have family in town visiting, throw all of the bedding and towels in the dryer on high heat after they leave and inspect the bed for any bugs. This does not mean your family members are dirty (except maybe their humor)! It is simply a precaution because they could have unknowingly picked up bed bugs during their travels and brought them into your home.
Going to the Movies
If going to the movies is a part of your holiday tradition, be on alert. Bed bugs could be lurking in the seat cushions. The dark, cool environment makes for a perfect nesting ground. But don’t let that keep you from your tradition. When you return home, inspect your clothing and personal belongings, like a purse. If you have a Packtite, you can throw everything in there, or just run your clothing through the dryer.
Another high-risk place for bed bugs is busy shopping malls. While you may be rushing to get gifts for everyone on your list, you could pick up bed bugs along the way. With crowded changing rooms and the possibility of bed bugs that have travelled into the store on shipments, bed bugs could easily transfer from one person to another.
Now, don’t take this as an excuse to forgo gifts this year! Instead, be vigilant. Find time to shop at non-peak hours to avoid the crowds. And, of course, don’t forget inspect your bags and clothing when you get home.
Knowledge is Power
The best defense against bed bugs is knowledge. The risk of developing an infestation is higher in places where there is heavy foot traffic. So, as you gear up for the holidays, keep that in mind. Although you can’t avoid the crowds all season, you can recognize high-risk environments and be attentive in inspecting your home and belongings. That way, the only thing you’re left with when the celebrations are over are happy memories.
Photo Credit: Phillip Capper