Publisher’s viewpoint

Stay aware of your surroundings - Don't let the bedbugs bite


Last month I wrote about situational awareness and this month, I'm living it. On a recent business trip, I stayed at a headquarters hotel and awoke the last morning to find an easy count of 45 bug bites. I was Beyond Horrified and never felt a thing!

Informing the hotel, I was greeted by naysayers, claiming they treat the hotel for the pests and also, that it was an allergy to detergent or hives. Security asked if I'd show them the bites which they photographed. Since then I've become an expert on bedbugs, which are nocturnal, rarely seen by day but still living and breathing hidden deep inside a dark crevice or squirreled away in the mattress, pillows or carpet. In fact, these pesky predators are spreading like wildfire and if you stay in a hotel for business or pleasure, you're likely playing bedbug roulette.

As I was leaving I asked what to do to ensure I didn't take them home. I was told not to take my suitcase inside and to wash all my clothes-but that information proved quite inadequate. I've learned that the creatures hitchhike easily and invisibly and this is why their presence is approaching near-epidemic proportions in the U.S. If you get one bug in your house, you're in big trouble. A single female can lay up to 12 eggs a day and they like to lay their eggs in dark, uneven places, in tiny crevices! Or under the edge of carpets, in the edge of picture frames, the underside of drawers, in a wall socket, the cracks in your floors, bedding, pillows, mattresses, seams of clothing, curtains...you're getting the picture right? The eggs hatch in six to 17 days, they feed and they lay more eggs. They're the size of a pinhead to start with and translucent until they bite you and in 21 days they can grow to 1/4 inch.

To get rid of them, you must strip the beds of all linens, take down your curtains, and remove all your clothes from drawers and closets, wash and dry them on high heat for 30 to 60 minutes to kill the eggs. Things that cannot or don't need to be washed must be run through the dryer on high heat for 30 to 60 minutes. Why my dryer didn't light on fire is beyond me. As you remove things from the dryer you need to immediately store them in clear, sealable, large plastic bags until you are sure that all the bugs in your house are gone. You must move all your furniture 18 inches from the wall, stand mattresses and box springs up on their side, remove wall plates, so that everything can be sprayed. Some thing's cannot be treated and thus the clocks, stereos, artwork needs to be carefully vacuumed with a crevice tool and you're just beginning "the process." And yes, you will purge as it's really the only thing to do in some cases. And it will cost you thousands. You'll dread nightfall, you'll be looking for them everywhere, you'll feel them crawling on you even when there's nothing there. And the worst part is that they can lay dormant for up to 18 months although their infants will die relatively quickly without biting someone, so I am told.

I could have been spared this experience if the hotel clearly and decisively told me what to do and not, in writing. But they and many others are all pointing fingers at each other saying, 'it's not me, I didn't do it, they did.' This is irresponsible as it would take so little to help manage this growing problem. A simple step-by-step letter on what to do with all the right legalese in it!

This is a situation you need to be aware of and it's a story that needs to be told. I'm told that bedbugs will soon become the second largest pest nuisance in the U.S. so if you lived unscathed until this point it's hard to believe that this will last much longer. It's time for all of us to take the bug by the horns and deal with this problem. Are you telling me that people aren't smarter than a bedbug?

There's more to this story and other essential tips to protect yourselves. You can find out more from my prior article on this subject ("The Return of the Bed Bugs" on SecurityInfoWatch.com). Take a look and take your situational awareness to the next higher level.