(BPT) - When summer arrives, all you can think about is that vacation getaway, getting the kids off to camp and traveling to visit friends and family. You're looking forward to spending some relaxing time away from your hectic everyday environment. Unfortunately, bed bugs feel the same way. They're itching to get out and see the world just as much as you are.
Amazingly, 99.6 percent of professional pest management companies in the United States encountered a bed bug infestation in 2013, according to a survey conducted by Bugs Without Borders. Bed bugs are skilled hitchhikers that can be picked up from hotels, motels, public transportation, rental homes and other public areas. You might think you're safe at a five-star luxury hotel, but bed bugs don't discriminate. Bed bugs can attach themselves to and be carried by any of your personal belongings, including luggage, clothing, computers and more.
Take steps to stay safe from bed bugs during the summer travel season. Use these tips as a checklist to make sure you're protected before setting out to enjoy fun in the sun.
* Know the signs. Before you embark on your vacation, take some time to educate yourself on the signs of a bed bug infestation. These include tiny dark or red spots from a fresh bed bug feeding or a trampled bed bug. Although they are very small, bed bugs, their eggs and cast skins can be seen by the naked eye. They can usually be found hiding in tight, typically undisturbed and cramped spaces near the sleeping areas of a home. Additionally, unexplained bites on a person's skin may be another sign of a bed bug outbreak. If the infestation is large, bed bugs will lurk in other areas outside the bedroom and you will likely smell a sickly sweet odor.
* Take preventive measures. If you've been traveling often, have a child in college or have had a previous bed bug infestation, it's important to be proactive about prevention. Pack a flashlight in your suitcase to help you inspect your travel accommodations right when you arrive. Ask a pest professional to help you find a strategy that's best for your family and home. If you travel often or feel you are at high risk for bed bugs, consider an active liner on your bed at home. Where other bedding products such as encasements solely attempt to trap bed bugs within or prevent them from migrating, an active liner kills bed bugs on contact and stops infestations before they establish.
* Identify a problem early on.If the place you're staying does have an infestation, you'll want to know right away to avoid coming into contact. When you arrive at your travel destination, first place your luggage in the bath tub as bed bugs infrequently enjoy cold surfaces. Take out your flashlight to begin your inspection. Gently exhale along the top corners and sides of the headboard as carbon dioxide attracts hungry bed bugs. Slide a credit card between the headboard and the wall and look for signs with the flashlight. Carefully inspect the bedding and any couch or chair cushions. Notify management and remove your personal belongings if you find any signs of bed bugs.
* Be careful when you get home.When you return home, don't even think about throwing your luggage or backpack on your bed while you unpack. Launder all clothing at the highest temperature that the fabric can stand. Place non-washable items, like pillows and stuffed animals, into the dryer on the highest setting for thirty minutes. If you feel you are at heightened risk, consider using ActiveGuard Mattress Liners. Covering your mattress or box spring like a fitted sheet, they are specifically formulated to kill bed bugs upon contact and will continue to do so for two years.
The best way to prevent bed bugs from infesting your home is to be conscious and vigilant of the problem. Follow these tips, and at the end of your travels, you'll be sharing pictures and memories instead of treating your itchy, red bug bites and calling pest control.