It seems that bedbugs have taken over the nation. As you can see above, there's been a rise in infestations in buildings from offices to apartments, schools, and hotels. Apparently the thought of your blood getting sucked out in the middle of the night by these tiny, gross-looking creatures that lay eggs and poop in your bed is really making people panic.
Imagine paying $300 a night for a hotel for you, your partner, and your 2.5 kids, only to come back from a fun-filled vacation with one of those little buggers in tow (not one of your kids, but a bedbug).
Enter the Bed Bug Registry, which is a free database that tracks bedbug sightings across the country. Anyone can report a bug. If all that red on the map, especially on the East Coast, doesn't make you want to cancel your plans, vacuum all the corners and crevices of your house, wash your clothes on high heat, and sob in your hypoallergenic encased mattress, I'm not sure what will.
To use the site, type in the address of the hotel you're staying at, and if reports of bedbugs show up, you may want to consider changing your plans.
However, be sure to take follow up independently. People can report buildings with bedbugs anonymously, but the site has no way to confirm if these reports are accurate. Even the website itself admits this on their FAQ section:
How can you be sure these reports are true?
We can't -- this is the Internet! All our bedbug reports are submitted through the site, and have not been vetted for accuracy. We do our best to flag posts that have been disputed, but we remind our readers to take things with a grain of salt.
Some reports are posted by malicious tenants. Some are posted by evil competitors. Some are posted by hypochondriacs.
Still, this is a start and an easy way to check if there have been bedbug sightings (you can usually tell if the report is legit if the user has a name other than "Eat Me" or something similar, gives a detailed account about the room and their stay, and actually writes in decent English).
And regardless if your hotel checks out or not, follow these tips to try to ensure a bedbug-free return home:
• Call the hotel: Ask if they've had any bedbug problems in the rooms. They may lie to you, but it's still safer to call and check first. Also ask if they use mattress encasements.
• Bring clothes that you can wash in hot water: Even if you didn't wear all your clothes you brought, wash everything anyway, in the hottest temperatures that you can.
• Use a luggage liner: This helps protect your clothes and lets you see if you have bedbugs easier.
• Inspect the hotel room: Bring a flashlight and leave your stuff outside while you check around.
• Keep your suitcase on a rack: Don't put it on the bed, furniture, or floor.
• Encase your dirty clothes: Use a bag you can seal up air-tight specifically for dirty clothes; don't let them be in contact with your clean clothes.
• Unpack carefully: Don't unpack in your bedroom or living room. Try to put your clothes directly into the washing machine if possible. Inspect and then vacuum your bags immediately.
Are you worried about bedbugs while traveling? What steps are you taking to prevent them?
Image via bedbugregistry.com