Bed bugs can be a traveller's worst nightmare. These pesky bugs can attach themselves to luggage, briefcases, and handbags. But, with preventative measures, you can protect your home when you travel to work or go on holiday. Use these tips to avoid bringing home any unexpected guests.
What are bed bugs?
Bed bugs (cimex lectularius) are tiny brown parasitic insects that can live on blood from humans or animals. They go through five stages from egg to adult and are hard to see in the larva stages when they are babies at 1.5-mm to 4.5-mm. As adults, they are about the size of an apple seed and easy to spot at 5.5-mm. They feed for up to 10-minutes at a time and adults can lay five eggs per day They're called bed bugs because they often hide in mattresses and usually come out at night when people are sleeping. Evidence of bed bugs is usually small dark spots on a mattress that look like mould. Or, you might see several tiny bugs together where some are brown or beige (exoskeletons) and in different sizes.
How to avoid bringing bed bugs home
If you travel by bus, train or airline, bed bugs can attach to the bottom of your luggage, a purse or briefcase. Use these helpful tips:
- Never set your purse or briefcase on the floor or carpeting. Sit it in a seat next to you or hold it in your lap.
- In public areas, don’t let your jacket or coat drag on the floor. If you’re sitting on a public area, check that the seat is clean first.
- Put clothing in a hot dryer for thirty minutes when you get home. Wipe down the bottom of suitcases and bags after travelling.
- When purchasing mattresses or other furniture, inspect it before bringing it into your home.
- Contact a bed bug exterminator. If caught early, a thorough cleaning with high heat and chemical treatment can rid the area of bed bugs.
How to avoid bed bugs in a hotel or apartment rental
If you plan on staying in a hotel or furnished apartment, check their name for bed bug incidents online. When you check-in:
- Avoid putting luggage directly on the bed. Bed bugs can adhere to luggage and go home with you. Use the luggage rack instead.
- Inspect your mattress and sofa bed. Check the seam and near the head of the bed. If there’s a dust cover, lift it and check under it. Look for small black spots and/or tiny bugs.
- Check the sofa cushions, pillows and chairs.
- If you find bed bugs, alert a hotel manager.
What if you find bed bugs?
If you see bed bugs, develop a rash or find what looks like mosquito bites on your skin, alert a hotel manager right away. Then take pictures of your injuries. If it’s bed bugs, the hotel will change your room and all your belongings will have to be heat-dried to kill any remaining bugs.
Filing an insurance claim
Some home insurance policies won't cover bed bugs in the home. They see it as a home maintenance issue. However, if the bed bugs were found in a hotel, start a claim with the hotel's insurance provider. You can request reimbursement for clothing, surcharges for a room change and/or medical expenses. To file a claim: The hotel may not admit fault but a bed bug attorney can help with your claim.
- Take pictures of the bed bugs and the area where you found them.
- Take pictures of your injuries.
- Ask neighbouring hotel guests if they found the same evidence.
- Contact your insurance provider to see if they will cover it. If they don't, contact a bed bug attorney who can help you file a claim with the hotel manager.
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Bed bugs like to hitch rides home with unsuspecting travellers. But a few proactive steps can help you avoid these pesky bugs.
Report bed bug sightings to hotel management and inspect all mattresses and furnishings you bring into your home. You should also check with your current home insurance provider to see if you're covered if critters follow you home. You can compare home insurance costs from the best providers in Canada. And, leave the pesky critters behind.