Bedbug exposure in my apartment--what should I do?(5 posts)
My idiot brother booked two different hotels last weekend on Priceline. After checking out of the first one, he came over to my apartment to hang out on Saturday for a couple of hours before he checked into the second one. My boyfriend swears he only sat on a (wooden) chair and not on either of our upholstered chairs or our sofa. (I think it's possible he sat on the couch.) While he was here, he had his luggage (a duffel bag) and his coat on our floor, near our front door, on a small area rug (2' x 3'). His coat was close to our coats--probably touching.
WHILE HE WAS HERE, I nagged him about bedbugs and told him how to check for bedbugs at the next hotel (bag in the bathtub, etc.), while I disabused him of the notion that "nice" hotels don't get bedbugs, because it is a life goal of mine, as a person with a whole lot of non-washable clothes, a shedding dog, and a lot of clutter, that neither I nor anyone I know ever get bedbugs. Seriously, prevention is and has been the name of the game because I do not have the money to pay for dealing with an infestation. The dry-cleaning bill alone would send me to bankruptcy court.
Of course, because this is my life, he called me today and told me that yesterday he turned up with bedbug bites. He hasn't found any back at his apartment, but I don't know how carefully he's checking--he said something about a cup in a cup and talcum powder, but he's the idiot who booked two hotels in New York on Priceline in this day and age for no reason. I don't know whether he's checked his luggage.
When I called to ask him if he knew which hotel he might have gotten bitten at, he told me he wasn't sure, but there were more bedbug reports on the internet for the first hotel than for the second--but they both had reports. Wondrous.
So. What do my boyfriend and I do now? My anxiety about this is bad enough that I would go gung-ho immediately given all the time and money in the world, but I have neither time nor money. Is there anything reasonable I should be doing to increase our chances of avoiding an infestation?
Also, we will both be at my parents' house this weekend overnight for my grandmother's birthday. What's the best way for him to protect my parents' house, and for me to protect my boyfriend and me while we're there? Should my mom ban him from staying overnight? (She's pissed, too, so she probably would.)
Our FAQ gives an excellent introduction to what bed bugs are (and are not), how to prevent, detect and fight them. There's a specific one on travel precautions, that apply to both un-infested travelers visiting an infested, or suspect, location and for people with infested homes that need to travel. http://bedbugger.com/faqs/travel/
What is the internet service's fault in this?
Priceline locks you into booking a hotel without seeing its name (i.e. being able to check it, at least by reputation, for bedbugs).
I looked at the FAQ, but it all seems to focus on how to avoid exposing your apartment when you or your belongings have been exposed (my apartment is what was exposed) or what to do once you've started to detect bedbugs actually in your home. I can forward the information about not bringing them to someone else's house to my brother while treating my parents' house as presumably-infested, but I don't have a Packtite or anything like that. But I'm honestly more concerned about what I can do to prevent/head off the possible-infestation caused by my brother's stuff being in my apartment for a few hours. Does anyone have any information about that?
Experts seem in short supply tonight, so here are my non-expert thoughts:
1. Experts can't definitively identify "bites" as being from bed bugs, not some other reaction. So, you brother saying he's got bed bug bites, does not automatically mean he's been bitten by bed bugs.
2. Bed bug reports about a hotel do not mean that the room your brother stayed in had bed bugs (and vice versa).
3. You can get bit by bed bugs and not take them from the premises. So, your brother may have been bit, but may not have taken any home with him.
4. Bed bugs do hitch rides on luggage and we don't know where they get off. Bed bugs usually do not hang out on people, but sometimes might.
So, your brother may or may not have brought you some bed bugs. Low level infestations are hard to catch, so there is likely not a lot to inspect for at this point. I wouldn't go into panic mode, buy, launder or toss a lot of stuff (as people who get freaked about bed bugs often do).
Here's what I would do.
1. Visually inspect the areas around where you think your brother and his stuff were. Use good light and watch for nooks, crannies, crevices. Check under chairs, in screw holes, etc.
2. Vacuum the areas and surfaces where your brother and his stuff were (same areas you inspected). Use the bare hose and crevice tool only (not the brush tools). Toss the bag outside the house. If you have a "bagless", dump the cup contents outside the house, wash the cup with hot, soapy water.
3. Clean these same areas with the cleaner that's appropriate for that surface (no need to use anything exotic, designer, bed-bug specific or harsh). Wood cleaner for wood, mild detergent for plastics or metal, rug cleaner for rugs. (Advising you on any insecticides to use is beyond my expertise. I'm concerned that some might worsen a situation, definitely do not use foggers.)
Do the inspection, vacuum & clean routine on and around your beds and other places where you sit or lie for extended periods.
Keep your eyes open for the medium term, inspecting those same areas on a regular basis, noting any reactions you may have or for the signs of bed bugs (bugs, shells, poop marks). Passive monitors, such as climb-ups under bed and furniture legs could be helpful (the "two cups and powder" your brother was talking about may have been a "climb-up".
If you do turn up bed bugs and you're in a rental, check your local laws to determine who's responsible. Do not divulge to your landlord your story about your brother. For all you know, you could end up with BB from a neighbor, only to have your LL use your story to get out of his responsibilities.
If a service does not allow you to select a hotel, and you're not comfortable with that, then find a different way to book a hotel. In any case, I'd take precautions traveling, regardless of what reviews or registries say (or don't say).
Priceline has two options, from my experience: choose a room knowing the hotel (at one price point) or go for the more deeply discounted options where they don't disclose the hotel name.
I don't personally choose to book "blindly" for various reasons. However, the service hardly seems "evil," since consumers are made aware of the way it works before they book.
As for bed bugs, Cilecto has good suggestions as usual.
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