Squeezing in one more vacation before the summer’s out? Make sure it’s one to remember…and not because your hotel was infested with bed bugs. In a recent survey, the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) found that 75% of pest control professionals have encountered infestations of bed bugs in hotels and motels.
“Just because the room looks nice doesn’t mean there’s not a creepy crawler waiting for you in bed”, said Mechele Agbayani Mills, President and CEO of BBB Serving Central East Texas. “. Take the time to ensure that your hotel room is bug free before you unpack and get settled in.”
BBB and the NPMA recommend the following tips to avoid encountering and spreading a bed bug infestation when traveling:
Inspect the room before settling in. At hotels, pull back the sheets and inspect the mattress seams, particularly at the corners of the mattress, and check the room in its entirety (behind the headboard, sofa, and chairs) before unpacking. If you see any signs of bed bugs, such as small red or reddish brown spots on mattresses, upholstery, or walls, notify management and change rooms/establishments immediately. Check the hotel’s refund policy; you may be entitled to a full or partial refund.
If you do need to change rooms, be sure that you do not move to a room adjacent and/or directly above/below the suspected infestation. Bed bugs can easily hitchhike via housekeeping carts, luggage and even through wall sockets. If an infestation is spreading, it typically does so in the rooms closest to the origin.
Safeguard your belongings. Consider placing your suitcase in a plastic trash bag or protective cover during the duration of your trip to ensure that bed bugs cannot take up residence there prior to departure. You certainly don’t want to bring them home with you.
Clean and wash your luggage and clothing immediately upon your return. Remember, bed bugs are excellent hitchhikers, often stowing away in luggage, handbags, and clothing. Although they originate in tropical climates, they can now be found almost anywhere in the world. And they spread quickly. After your trip, inspect your suitcases before bringing them into the house, particularly if you have visited another country. Vacuum your suitcase thoroughly before storing away. Consider using a garment hand steamer to steam your luggage, which will kill any bed bugs or eggs that may have hitched a ride home. Wash all of your clothes - even those that have not been worn - in hot water to ensure that any bed bugs that may have made it that far are not placed into your drawers or closets.
Call a professional exterminator. If you find they have traveled home with you, it will most likely be necessary to contact a professional pest control company to completely eliminate the infestation. Remember to go to bbb.org to find a company you can trust.
For a closer look at bed bugs, and more ways to protect against them, visit AllThingsBedBugs.org.