It’s amazing what it’s possible to find out about Web traffic. A few clicks reveals that the most popular post ever here at Health*Conscious*Travel was my bedbug report: what to know before you go a few months back.
The timing was good, because since I posted the national news has continued to feature one report after another about the growing bedbug menace, including the news that the AMC Empire 25 movie theater in New York City’s Times Square had to shut its doors in August for a deep-cleaning after patrons reported being munched while trying to enjoy Toy Story 3.
The offices of elegant Elle magazine and several New York Victoria’s Secret Stores have had infestations, as has — by some reports at least — practically the entire state of Ohio. (In August, Ohio petitioned the EPA to allow re-introduction of a potentially toxic chemical, propoxur, which is supposedly effective against bedbugs but harmful to children. The request was unsuccessful, and reveals a fair amount of desperation.)
And poor Toronto, set to host the Toronto International Film Festival in a couple of weeks, is rushing to defuse reports that the ScotiaBank Theatre, where the bulk of the press screenings are held, is being fumigated to rid the seats of bed bugs.
And while much of the news has centered on the east coast and midwest, here in the west we have a role to play as well. The National Pest Management Association (NPMA) is convening bed bug symposiums around the country and this week there’s one in our own Oakland, California.
But rather than jump on the bandwagon of alarm, let’s look at the many educational comments on our previous post to glean some practical, useful, non-alarmist bed bug advice.
1. Hotels are not at fault. Or at the least, hotel cleaning staff do not deserve the blame. According to knowledgeable commenter Trisha, the persistent pets are being spread in the clothing of travelers, so that’s where we need to start to combat their spread.
2. Plastic bags are the weapon of choice. Terrabyte, Trisha, and other commenters recommend that travelers keep all belongings (not just clothes, but everything) in airtight ziploc plastic bags to prevent bed bugs from finding a cozy hideaway.
3. Rely on hot water and a hot dryer upon re-entry. When you get home, bring your suitcase straight into the laundry room and wash everything in hot water, then dry it in a hot dryer for good measure. If possible, steam clean your suitcase; a low-budget option is to leave it outside in the sun for a few days.
4. Consider an airtight mattress protector. This may sound like overkill, but if you live in a bedbug area, or travel a lot, it makes perfect sense to be proactively protective. Bed bugs come by their name for a reason; mattresses are their first choice when it comes to lodging because of the easy access to an all-night buffet. So seal your mattress up securely in an anti-bed bug protector and they can’t settle in.
5. Be a conscientious — and cautious — houseguest. If there is any chance at all that you yourself are hosting bed bugs, then all I can say is, friends don’t let friends get bitten by bed bugs. I haven’t dealt with bed bugs myself, but I have dealt with lice when my children were little, and the same courtesy of full disclosure applies. If you will be staying in a private home and are worried about bed bugs, use the same plastic bag and laundry techniques you’d use when staying in a hotel.
6. Consult the ultimate authority. If you want to know everything there is to know about bed bugs, check in with the folks at www.Bedbugger.com, who keep up with all the latest sightings and scratchings. As of this weekend, they were reporting bed bugs in Google’s Chelsea, New York offices. Bet that’ll get a lot of hits!
More bed bug tips I haven’t thought of? Share them here, please!