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Protect yourself from bed bugs by following some basic steps once you check into a hotel room.

If you are like me, and travel often, you may have wondered if your hotel room has Bed Bugs in it.  I know it’s a nasty thought and will no doubt leave you with the “crawlies” just to think about it.  But do you even know what to look for? Where to look? the symptoms of bed bugs?  well, rest easy…here are some tips to help you feel more comfortable in your hotel room.

 First of all, let’s talk about a few facts about Bed Bugs.  I am not an expert and actually know very little about them, which may be the reason for the paranoia.  However, my brother-in-law owns Beeline Pest Control in Colorado and they specialize in bed bugs.  In fact, he told me that about 90% of their current business is bed bugs, so I defer to their training and expertise.  Bed bugs are small, flat wingless insects that are reddish-brown in color and approximately one-quarter inch long, before feeding (about the size and shape of a small apple seed).  They hide during the day on beds (mattress seams, box springs, bed frames, headboards) and in cracks and crevices of walls, floors and furniture. They come out at night. They do not fly or jump, but they can crawl rapidly.

 Tip #1: USE THE LUGGAGE RACK!!! 

In talking with the experts, they said that way to ensure that no bed bugs hitch a ride back home with you is to out your luggage on the rack.  A lot of people throw them onto the bed or on the floor to unpack or grab stuff…bad idea. Bed Bugs are hitch hikers and that is the perfect opportunity for them to find a new bed….YOURS!

 Tip #2: Check the mattress.

The first thing I do in a hotel after I put my suitcase on the rack, is pull the bed sheet up so I can see the side of the mattress, checking along the seam of the mattress (in the middle).  Then I lift up the mattress and look at the side of the box spring as well as the top of the box spring.  At the same time, I also look at the bottom of the mattress.

 Tip #3: Check behind the headboard with a flashlight.

As a traveler, I never thought about taking a flashlight with me on a business trip.  However, this makes a lot of sense for many reasons.  You can buy those LED flashlights at the gas station or at Wal-Mart or places like that and they cost a few bucks and are usually very compact and will fit in one of those pockets in your suitcase that you never use anyway, so its no sweat to haul around with you.  If your hotel ever loses power or your rental car ever has an issue, you will be glad you have it.

Anyway, back to the issue at hand.  use the flashlight to check behind the headboard (which isn’t easy, but worth it).  Just looking behind quickly may not give you the right light to see anything if it is there.  A lot of the headboards are secured to the wall.  If that is the case, move on to the next tip.

Tip #4: Check on the back of the end tables with the flashlight.

Again, as with the headboard, just remember that bed bugs are nocturnal and do not want to be found, so you are looking in the places that get skipped or missed in cleaning the room, away from your view.

Tip #5: Check under the drawer of the end tables.

After you are done inspecting the back of the end table, pull the drawer of the end table out as far as it will go (or completely out if it will let you, don’t break anything). Look underneath the drawer for any bugs sleeping or any eggs.  I know it sounds gross, but this is one of the first places an exterminator will look when inspecting a room for bed bugs.

Tip #6: When you get home, throw your close into the dryer and check your bag.

I may be a little over the top, but if you had family that owns an extermination business you would understand how it messes with your head.  My suitcase never makes to my bedroom.  I stop off in the laundry room and toss my clothes into the dryer for a cycle before washing.  Then I inspect my bags and look it over, then I put my suitcase away (in my case, in our basement closet with the others.

I know this seems like a lot, but if you are like me, the thought of these bugs in my room is well worth the thorough check…then I rest better and it makes my trips much more relaxing or focused for business.  Ok, so now that I have run through my SOP (standard operating procedure) for hotel rooms, let me answer the questions:

What am I looking for?   You are looking for 5 things…Their poop, the actual bug, their shedding shell, their eggs or small blood stains.

Lifting the mattress can show signs of bed bugs

 
The signs of bed bugs
 

Look for bed bugs around the seam area of the mattress

What  do they look like?  

Here is a picture of the ugly bastards.

Nasty, here is a bed bug up close

How do I know if I have been bit?  You may experience large red bumps and welts, multiple red marks in line formation, extreme irritation and itch, slight burning sensation, dramatic swelling, blistered inflammations.