Tuesday, April 14, 2015

How to Avoid Bedbugs in Hotels

Knowing how to avoid bedbugs in hotels is a necessity these days. Once almost eradicated in the U.S., the bedbugs are back in hotels with tenacity. This ABC article says that since 2001, the National Pest Management Association has seen a 71% increase in service calls. I have checked the bed and hastily retreated to avoid bedbugs several times. Run-ins like these are increasing. Knowing how to spot signs of an infestation has helped me avoid bringing bedbugs home several times.

In the same night I found them in two hotels and caught a red flag about a third hotel. Fortunately, I have been able to scurry away before the bedbugs could catch up. Here's how I avoid bedbugs in the first place.

These steps may not work for everyone, but they 've kept my home bedbug free. A few minutes to check is time well spent. After all, no one wants to bring home hitchhikers like the ones in this photo.

There is plethora of websites telling me that these creepy critters are not a health hazard unless I'm allergic to them. Those websites about bedbugs are somewhat reassuring but not fully. Physically harmful or not, bedbugs are guaranteed to drive my already questionable mental heath over the edge. Their presence in my home is most unwelcome and apparently expensive.

According to this article on Dateline learning how to avoid bedbugs is the most effective way to deal with them. To that end I've become very aggressive about searching them out.

It would be easy to say that bedbugs only effect hotels in 'xyz' price range but that's not so. Low end to high end hotels can be infested. The free Bedbug Registry.com is helpful for spotting potentially infested hotels but I feel that nothing beats taking precautions.

Knowing what to look for is the first step to avoiding bedbugs. Online photos at Bedbugs.info and the video on Free Bedbug Advice other online sites have been helpful. Other signs include black dots on the mattress, red stains and of course the tiny live bugs themselves. Bedbugs can look like dots of sprinkled pepper to flat round disks that remind me of ticks.

These things are opportunistic hitchhikers. Worse yet, they can hid around mattress seams, headboards, night stands, furniture, picture frames - you name it.

Reducing the opportunity for them to hitch a ride in your things is important to avoiding bedbugs. This begins at the front desk. If the response of the desk clerk is anything but yes it gives me pause. A conversation with one desk clerk caused me to leave immediately.

The desk clerk refused to let me look at a room until I fully checked in and they had my credit card information on file. According to her, the hotel stopped allowing people to look at rooms because they couldn't be rented again once the sheets were removed. It had apparently become a problem for guests to look at a room, pull the sheets back and leave.

She couldn't imagine why people would do that but I could. That's one of the red flags of possible bedbugs. I thanked her for her time and took great care not to touch anything on the way out.

Even when checking a room I never enter with anything more than my keys and flashlight. Everything else stays in the car until I've thoroughly checked the room.

The first thing that catches my eye in a hotel room is the bedspread. Red staining can indicate bedbugs. Next, I pull back the sheets and mattress cover to look for staining, anything resembling flakes of black pepper or live bugs.

A good solid thump on the headboard dislodges anything hidden and I check the mattress itself plus the crevices. The next thing is to pull the mattress from the box spring and to take a look at the dust ruffle. If this is all clear then I take a quick look at the nightstand and finally the carpeting next to the wall.

At this point the room is probably okay but I take a look at the chair and those crevices anyway. I've gone to a lot of trouble to avoid bedbugs. One quick look at the furniture won't hurt.

If anything looks suspicious I wash my hands with hot soapy water and go back to the front desk. Sometimes desk clerks are nice sometimes they aren't. I made the mistake of checking in to one hotel before checking the room. That will never happen again.

To further avoid bedbugs my suitcase gets placed on the luggage rack (also checked). The plastic bag for dirty clothing goes on the table, desk or bathroom floor. It is not placed on the carpet.

Before leaving, I'll use the hotel laundromat. The clothing goes straight into the suitcase there. I figure that will help avoid bedbugs that could sneak in. If there isn't a hotel laundromat I'll tie the plastic laundry bag as securely as possible. Right before putting it in the car I'll thump it on the ground a few times. This will hopefully cause any bedbugs to fall from the outside of the bag.

Heat of more than 114 degrees is supposed to kill bedbugs. In the summer, the bags will remain in the car overnight. Summertime temperatures in the south can run over 100 degrees. The car temperature will climb much higher. I figure that will take care of any lingering bedbugs.

These steps may seem like a lot of trouble. So far we have been able to avoid bedbugs and that's good enough for me.