With spring break just around the corner and summertime not too far behind, locals may be planning to hit the open road and do some traveling with the extra time off.
But while you’re making your travel itinerary, Penny King wants to help ensure you don’t pick up some unwanted hitchhikers along the way in the form of bed bugs.
“Bed bugs aren’t shy when it comes to catching a ride — clothing, luggage and even commercial airliners — and creating a headache that you don’t want to bring back to your home,” said King, family and consumer sciences educator, OSU Extension Rogers County. “By taking a few simple precautions, travelers can reduce their chances of picking up these unwanted and annoying pests.
“First of all, do your homework before you even leave the house,” she said. “Wherever you’re going to be staying, always check the reviews, the comments, especially for any mention of ‘bed bugs’ — unless there’s no way to avoid it, try not to stay at a hotel or motel which has several mentions of bed bugs in the customer reviews. Let other people’s bad experiences help prevent you from having a bad time of your own.
“When you do check in, family members should leave their luggage in the bathtub or on the counter or another hard surface, and even if it’s a highly-rated hotel, carefully inspect the motel or hotel room for any signs of the pests before settling in,” she continued. “Since bed bugs are most active at night, they're most likely to be found in places where people are at night, that is, the bed.”
As part of the inspection, King said to pull back the pillows, blankets and linens at the top of the bed to search for signs of a bed bug infestation such as eggs, bugs, blood and black fecal spots.
While the linens are pulled back, travelers should fully inspect the seams, tufts and crevices at the top of the mattress, as well as inspect the headboard and nightstand.
“It's also a good idea to take a quick look in the dresser, in case any bed bugs hitched a ride on clothing,” she said, “and before you use the luggage rack, be sure to look under the straps.”
Any signs of an infestation should be reported to the hotel staff.
“Only move your luggage into the room when you're confident there are no bed bugs present,” King said. “During your stay, store your luggage on the inspected luggage rack or on a hard surface such as a desk or dresser.”
After returning home, travelers should immediately unpack in a location other than the bedroom, such as the bathroom or garage, then wash and dry all their clothing.
Since heat effectively kills bed bugs, items which can be laundered should be dried on medium to high heat for at least 20 minutes, King advised, and then washed and dried again to make sure all pests are eliminated.