What are bed bugs, and why are they a problem?
Bed bugs are parasitic insects that feed exclusively on blood. They like to hang out in warm houses, especially inside bedding and usually feed at night. Their bites leave marks, which can cause rashes or other allergic systems.
If these bloodsuckers travel home with you, they can take up residence in your own mattresses, box springs, and furniture, causing an infestation that you cannot eliminate on your own. That’s a holiday gift no one wants.
How do I avoid bed bugs when traveling?
Thousands of people travel for the holidays, so it’s inevitable that hotel and motel rooms are a hotbed for bed bug activity. To protect yourself from infestation, you should always check for bed bugs in hotel rooms. Even luxury hotels are susceptible to these unwelcome guests.
Here’s how to protect yourself and you family from giving bed bugs a ride to your own home.
- When you enter a hotel room, don’t unpack. Put your luggage in the bathtub or on a rack away from the bed that will keep your luggage off the floor until you have inspected the room.
- Pull back the sheets and inspect the mattress and box spring. Using a flashlight (or the flashlight app on your phone), closely examine the folds and seams in the corners of the mattress for signs of bed bugs. Lift the mattress and look underneath and check the box spring. You are looking for actual bugs, which are reddish-brown and tiny (4mm long) or small, dark brown stains, which are blood spots. Be sure to check all four corners of the mattress and box spring.
- Also check other areas of the room such as the headboard, nightstands, upholstered furniture, and curtains for signs of bed bugs. They like to hide in dark grooves and folds.
- Leave immediately if you find evidence of bed bugs and notify the manager. Hopefully you will not find any evidence of bed bugs, and you can unpack and enjoy your vacation.
What should I do when I get home?
Even if you found no evidence of bed bugs in your hotel room, it is always a good idea to quarantine your bags when you return home from vacation. Decontaminate your luggage and clothing by putting your entire suitcase into a large chest freezer (if you have one) for four days before bringing them back into your home. Extreme hot or cold temperatures kill bed bugs. You can also put your clothes in the dryer on a hot setting for 30 minutes, and steam clean your luggage and clothing that cannot be placed in the dryer.
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