(BPT) - Summer's relaxed nature and the added free time enjoyed by parents and children alike make these warm-weather months perfect for travel. However, travelers who aren't careful could find their trip leaves them with a few hundred extra - and unwanted - guests.
New research from the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) and the University of Kentucky's biennial Bugs Without Borders survey found that not only are bed bugs spreading, but also that summer is the busiest season for treating these pests. Compared with numbers from 2013, more surveyed pest professionals reported encountering bed bugs this year across several areas important to travelers, including: train, bus and taxi transportation (up 8 percent); retail stores (up 5 percent); movie theaters (up 6 percent); and outpatient facilities (up 7 percent). For travelers, this means being vigilant against bed bugs while on the go is more important now than ever.
To ensure your summer vacation is memorable for all the right reasons, NPMA suggests the following tips for avoiding a bed bug infestation:
* Look before you sleep. Professionals agree that visual inspections are still the best way to spot a bed-bug infestation. Set any belongings on a luggage rack upon entry in to a hotel room, and then use a flash light to thoroughly inspect your bed. Pull back the headboard to check behind it for bed bugs, and then pull back the sheets to look for blood spots. Don't forget to check all corners of the mattress and box spring, as well as inside and beneath the nightstand drawers and the crevices of any upholstered furniture. It is also wise to inspect the sheets again in the morning for blood spots as bed bugs tend to defecate shortly after feeding.
* Change rooms wisely. If you find bed bugs in your hotel room and need to change rooms, be sure that you are not moved in to a room that is adjacent to or directly above or below the suspected infestation. Bed bugs can easily hitchhike on housekeeping carts, luggage and even through sockets in the wall. If an infestation is spreading, it will move first to the rooms closest to the origin.
* Clean up. After returning home from your trip, inspect suitcases before bringing them in to the house and vacuum luggage thoroughly before moving it in to storage. For additional protection, use a garment hand steamer to steam your luggage, killing any bed bugs or eggs that may have hitched a ride home. Next, wash all of the clothes you brought on vacation-even those that have not been worn-in the hottest water the fabric can withstand to prevent any stray bed bugs from making their way in to your drawers or closet.
* Seek professional help. If you find that your summer trip has left you stuck with a bed bug infestation, immediately seek the assistance of a pest professional. Hiring a professional ensures your bed bug infestation will be dealt with in an efficient and professional manner without exposing you and your family to the dangers associated with some DIY methods.
Summer is the peak season for travel-and for bed bugs. By practicing the tips above, however, you can be free to enjoy your vacation without the dreaded consequences of a bed bug infestation.