Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Blood Sucking Varmints: 10 Tips to Bed-Bug Proofing Your Trips

My blog generally evolves around family and food, but I'd like to branch out a little today and touch on the topic of traveling. Summer vacations are coming up and traveling for us takes a little planning ahead in many different areas. In addition to knowing where we are going to get, store and cook our food while we are on the road, another big obstacle we face is planning around the reality of the most hideous creatures we've ever come across in our travels - BED BUGS!


Some of you may think we are over the edge, but for those of you who have encountered them, or actually got them in your house, apartment complex, dorm, car or workplace, you understand completely when I say that this is one area where paranoia actually saves you in the long run. Living just south of Dayton, Ohio, we are surrounded by 6 of the top 15 worst cities to get bed bugs (Cincinnati, Dayton, Columbus, Cleveland, Indianapolis, Louisville, KY). It is so bad around here that even some of the local libraries are infested from bed bugs climbing into books that were in an infested home! Michael has even stayed at a location that was infested where he personally witnessed them climbing by the hundreds out of the light socket, but thanks to our "bed-bug proof" packing, no little critters came home and very little had to be discarded.

So like a good friend, I am going to share some tips to help you bed-bug proof your summer vacation trips because it literally costs thousands of dollars to get rid of these blood-sucking varmints. If you pick up 50, they will quickly multiply into over 5000 before 6 months are up. They cannot be sprayed for and once they are in your walls, they are almost impossible to get rid of without tearing something down. They don't carry diseases, just bites that itch really bad and can disrupt sleep, but the damage they leave trying to get rid of them is costly.

Water/air-tight bags we use for travel.
10 Tips to Bed-Bug Proofing Your Trips:
  1. Check the Bed Bug Registry to see if there have been bed bugs reported at the place you are looking at staying.
  2. Never use breathable suitcases. We travel with waterproof bags and totes. We also ensure if using a rental that our car seats are plastic and able to be wiped down and the cloth be placed in the dryer (I'll explain why later).
  3. Zip lock everything that sits out, especially if you are using a car rental (yes, they get them too).
  4. Do not bring any electronic items into the hotel, condo or house that you are staying. Bed bugs are attracted to heat, and therefore infest everything from computers and phones to game systems. Zip lock bag your phones or i-pods.
  5. Place your bags, purses, shoes and anything extra in the bathtub. To be even more safe, the local health departments here have their employees spray their bags/purses and shoes with alcohol as a deterrent.
  6. Check your beds, couches or car rentals for any signs of bed bugs (i.e. red rusty looking spots - that's the dried blood, egg shells, etc.). Bed bugs can remain dormant for long periods of time, so it's best to always be safe.
  7. Don't let your guard down. Just because your room may not have signs does not mean they cannot get to you. Bed bugs live in walls and can easily move between rooms via light sockets. They also like picture frames. I'm really not making this stuff up!
  8. Pack extra large trash bags to bag anything and everything up airtight before you put it back into your car or home.
  9. Treat everything as if it could be infested before you bring it back into the house. The best way to do this with clothing is to put it in the dryer for at least 20-30 minutes. With this being said, pack things that can be put in the dryer or wiped down and visibly checked. You can use commercial dryers at the dry cleaners for larger loads.
  10. Bed bug bites.
  11. Finally, if you notice any bed bug bites on your body, report it immediately to where you are staying and to the local health department. If for some terrible reason you get them in your home and have to pay the thousands of dollars to get rid of them and you would like the place responsible to help cover the costs, then the local health department needs to be involved from day one.
For more information on bed bugs, visit www.epa.gov/bedbugs/.

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