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When it comes to vacation mementos, there are those you welcome (photographs, kitschy knick knacks, a great hat or pair of sandals) and those you most definitely do not (sunstroke, broken limbs, a case of Montezuma’s revenge). Bed bugs clearly fall into the latter category. As we head into prime vacation travel time, we asked Gil Bloom of Standard Pest Management in Long Island City for some of the pro-active steps you can take to minimize your risk of exposure whether you're staying in a hotel or home rental:
Once you arrive:
• Immediately upon entering your hotel room or rental, check under and around the beds — including the mattress, frame, box spring and headboard — for bugs or evidence of bed bugs (like fecal spots or stains). Also, check behind the night tables and around the moldings. If you spy anything suspicious, contact the hotel manager or rental agent asap.
While you’re there:
• Keep your luggage safe by keeping it away from bed bug hot spots like the beds, upholstered furniture (sofas and chairs) and wooden storage pieces (chests of drawers and cabinets). The bathroom, and especially the tub, is a good place to store your stuff while you’re there.
• Stash any items that you remove from your luggage outside of the bathroom (think books, magazines, stray articles of clothing, etc.) in zip lock bags.
• Before you repack, blast your luggage with a blow dryer to get rid of any potential hitchhiking bugs.
When you get home:
• Keep luggage in clear sealed plastic bags until you’re ready to unpack.
• Empty your luggage in the bathroom where the light is bright and inspect your items for bugs.
• Unpack one suitcase at a time and place items directly into separate zip lock bags for washing and dry cleaning.
• Dry home washables on high heat for at least 30 minutes to kill any bugs that may have gotten into your clothes.
• If your luggage is soft and washable (like a fabric duffle or tote), dry it on high heat, too. Otherwise, vacuum it carefully (or heat it with a blow dryer) then bag and seal it for future use. Don’t forget to bag, seal and toss the vacuum cleaner bag. The last think you want after an idyllic break is a nightmare haunting you for months to come.