Last year an estimated 46.3 million Americans traveled 50 miles or more during the Thanksgiving weekend. With so many miles covered, it’s likely some of us may pick up hitchhikers along the way – we just won’t know it. These stealthy hitchhikers don’t signal drivers with outstretched arms and extended thumbs. Rather they just climb into your bag or attached themselves to your clothing without being noticed. Instead of entertaining you with folksy stories of life on the road, these hitchhikers will feed on your blood and leave you with itchy welts. Of course, I am referring to the bed bug.
Bed bugs thrive just about any place where there are people. The high volume of holiday travel further exacerbates the bed bug problem by increasing opportunities for them to spread. While many people think bed bugs are primarily an issue in hotels, bed bugs have been found in dorm rooms, office buildings, schools, buses, trains, airplanes, movie theaters, and even retail stores – not the kind of Black Friday deals we want! In other words, nearly any place we visit this holiday has the potential to have a stealthy hitchhiker waiting for us.
Nobody wants the “gift” of bed bugs this holiday season. Fortunately, there are steps to keep in mind to ensure we stay bed bug-free. The NPMA recommends the following tips for bed bug prevention when traveling:
- At hotels, pull back the sheets and inspect the mattress seams, particularly at the corners, for telltale stains or spots. If you see anything suspect, notify management and change rooms immediately.
- Thoroughly inspect the entire room before unpacking, including behind the headboard and in sofas and chairs.
- 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.
- After your trip, inspect your suitcases before bringing them into the house. 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/closet.
- If you suspect a possible bed bug infestation, call Home Paramount. This issue should be professionally dealt with. Bed bugs are not a pest you can control with DIY methods.
One last thing to think about, while the average American consumes about 3500 calories (the rough equivalent of 1 pound) during Thanksgiving dinner; a bed bug’s body mass increases by up to four times after a single blood meal! The bug then retreats to a quiet spot and won’t feed again for about one week – that’s a serious food coma!
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