Dilemma: Should I Let Friends Who Recently Got Bed Bugs COme to Stay?(10 posts)
One of my oldest friends is due to come over to NYC from the UK in 3 weeks' time. She will be traveling with her husband and 1 year old daughter. They are due to stay for a week. I'm super excited to see them.
The problem: She called last weekend and told me she suspects she has bed bugs. I'm pretty sure she does. I should know: We went through hell with them 2 years ago. In fact, we only just unpacked all the stuff we stored away.
My question is: is there any safe way for them to come and stay with us, or do I have to bite the bullet and say they can't come? Their flights are booked, and I doubt any travel insurance policy would pay out on this basis.
Q for PCO's: What could we do to ensure they couldn't spread any to us?
Here are the options I see if you still want to keep them as friends:
1) Tell them shouldn't come until bed bugs are gone, and pay for the missed flight.
2) Let them come and buy them a hotel room for the week.
3) Let them come and quarantine/treat the luggage however a PCO here advises.
I would not tell them to stay home and then make them eat the costs. Even option #1 is pushing it. Options #2 and #3 seem best. If it's a new infestation, which it seems to be, it is not likely that the bugs are already living in their drawers and closets, so you can even advise them to take the proper precautions (steam or dry all the clothes on high heat before packing them, etc). Just explain that your life is only just now getting back to normal after the whole psychologically taxing ordeal, and that you would appreciate it if they were extremely careful during the packing process.
Thanks for your response, slj29.
With regards option #1 - we really aren't in a position financially to pay for their flights.
#2 buying a hotel room in NYC would be even more expensive than paying for the flights. It also seems like a pretty irresponsible thing to do, given that they could just be spreading them there (I know many hotels are infested, but not all). We still wouldn't be protected as we would still be coming into regular contact with them.
My concern with them is that they are still in denial. My friend said to me "I don't want to have to go through what you did with your treatment, but I don't think we'll have to - they always take things to the extreme in America." We successfully eradicated bed bugs by following all the advice we got on this site to the letter, and by thoroughly researching our choice of PCO. We actually canceled a trip we were due to take soon after we found out we had bed bugs because it wouldn't have felt right to put the people we cared about at risk.
We have friends who have a packtite we can borrow - so I was wondering about putting them up in a hotel for one night and then taking them step by step through the decontamination process before they come to our house?
It's not always the case that someone with BB will carry the infestation everywhere they go. One of our members tells how she visited various homes without spreading.
Still, our travel FAQ recommend a fairly austere approach to be followed. You have a person who sounds like she can't be completely trusted to follow it 100%. Times 3. Can they strip and change to fresh clothes without delay (or embarrassment) on arrival? Will every item be PackTite-d? What about items that can't? Will these items stay sealed for the duration of their stay?
When I had my episode three years ago, I was welcomed at a relative's home. I traveled extremely light, changed immediately in the shower to fresh clothes provided by my host. Everything went in the dryer or stayed sealed for the duration of stay (until out the door).
> We went through hell with them 2 years ago. In fact, we only just unpacked all the stuff we stored away.
That thought should guide you. Are you up for doing this again, if necessary? If this happened, will you still be friends?
If you should decide that you won't have this friend over, I don't think you should feel guilty or liable for saying "no". In a contract, there's often a clause called a "force majeure". It states, in essence, "in case of unforeseen major change in circumstances, this deal is off". If your home should have a fire, or if a loved one were to get hospitalized, it would be understandable for you to say "this is not a good time", with no liability for your friend's sunk costs. Should you decide that this situation warrants, ie, her visiting potentially puts you at risk for consequences that you don't want, you should likewise feel confident in saying "some other time". Real friends don't put their friends in jeopardy.
I can't hear the tone in your friend's voice so I'm working at a disadvantage, but it also may be the case that due to very real differences in how bugs are treated in different countries that they are taking it seriously but the protocol in the UK doesn't involve bagging and drying. Only you can really read that.
If you have access to a Packtite, and your friends are willing to decon themselves, and their PCO is okay with them leaving in the middle of treatment, I think just Packtiting their stuff and otherwise following appropriate travel protocols and then letting them stay with you as planned seems like the answer I would personally go with. You already sound like you're leaning toward that option. It would only be if they refused to do so that if I were you, I'd start thinking about a plan B.
It makes a huge difference if your friends are willing to be 100% cooperative.
If that's the case, I bet you can host them without even having to pay for a hotel room for them for the first night.
(Saving even that one night's cost will pay for one-half or more of the cost of a PackTite when you soon get around to acquiring your own!) (Since I'm in NYC too, on the Upper West Side not far from 96th Street, you can borrow my PackTite in case your other borrowed one is unavailable; or borrow mine as a second one so you have twice the capacity.)
Remind your friends how much trouble bb's can be, and how expensive to get rid of. Give them the following link to bed bug horror stories:
Gently tell your friends there's no way around it, the precautions you have in mind really are in fact obligatory and stringent, so they and you can have a wonderful visit together with the menace averted.
Tell your friends you're going to start specifying these measures from now on for *everyone* who visits you, not just folks who think they may have bb's at home, because *anyone* these days can pick up bb's *while traveling* such as on an airline flight, in a taxi, in a restaurant booth, wherever.
Then specify in advance exactly what you're going to need your friends to do:
• showers upon arrival
• for their transatlantic flight they are to wear travel clothes, and shoes if possible, that are very light-colored for easy thorough visual inspection upon arrival, which your friends will do in the bathroom, if you feel they're competent and trustworthy to do so (inspect inside and out, with special attention to seams and creases, in strong light), at the same time they take their arrival showers; also they'll visually inspect any other objects they've brought with them, and they'll have chosen such objects for visual inspectability; also they'll inspect their nightclothes they're going to wear for the first night that will also be chosen for their very light colors and easy visual inspectability
• any travel clothes, or shoes, that aren't light-colored/inspectable go into the PackTite(s) immediately, along with a set of clothes your friends will remove from their luggage and give to you which will be their first change of clothes for when they head out the door tomorrow after the first overnight; since those clothes are definitely going to get heated, they don't necessarily have to be light-colored/inspectable
• have some cheap floppy light-colored plastic sandals on hand so your friends can wear those at first if their shoes have to go through the PackTite(s)
• your friends' luggage goes into giant plastic bags (now available from most hardware stores, I believe) upon arrival – more esthetic and nicer if the bags aren't black i.e. they aren't "garbage" bags – with permission to remove from the bagged luggage only items which can be visually inspected or go through the PackTite(s) and/or dryer; more and more of your friends' luggage goes through the PackTite(s) and/or dryer early during their visit, so less and less of their luggage has to stay confined to the plastic bags.
Any criticisms from others here on bedbugger.com, or comments as to things I may have overlooked?
Then please report back whether this approach worked because we'd like to refine and perfect it so it can be recommended as standard procedure to everyone! Since this is a situation that will be getting more and more common in years ahead and it will be great if there's something everyone can do which by consensus and experience is assured to work.
I agree with buggyinsocal, especially knowing, now, that you have access to a Packtite. Immediately throw everything into the dryer that can be dried, and then put everything else in the Packtite. Ask them to change immediately as well. You might also want to send them an email with precise instructions for treating and packing their belongings, and emphasize how important it is that they follow it; relay some of your own bed bug horror story to them for extra motivation. I will say that I strongly disagree with the notion that simply turning your friends away after they have purchased tickets and taken time off from work is the best course, and that their having bedbugs (especially only potentially so, since you cannot confirm it) is comparable to your home having a fire or a loved one being very ill. I do not think your friends possibly having bed bugs means you should ask them to cancel their visit, and if I were your friends, I would reconsider our friendship if you asked me to waste three very expensive plane tickets over the slim chance that bed bugs will infest your home after employing all the proper precautionary measures. I am a paranoid person when it comes to these things, too, and for months after they left I would likely be freaking out about the possibility; your concerns are not invalid and I sympathize. But asking them to cancel an international trip on their dime is a very big deal. Risk bed bugs, or risk a friendship? Either way, you take a risk. Life asks us to make tough choices and venture into unknowns. The middle ground seems best to me, at least in this situation.
Thanks for all your input, guys. This really is a great community (although brought together for terrible reasons). I am inclined to go the route of taking them step by step through decon and using the packtite. Thanks so much your offer, jrbtnyc, I may take you up on it. I think, with three individual's belongings to fry, we'll need the extra capacity. We're down in Chelsea, but we would need to borrow it Memorial Day Weekend, so that may not work for you. This has also been a useful reminder to stay vigilant. You're quite right to point out that just because I know they have bedbougs, that doesn't mean they are the only ones who could transmit them to us. We are expecting a lot of guests this summer, and I intend to take them all through "The Protocol" as I am now calling it!
Your protocol overall looks fine except I would not assume any clothing or footwear could be thoroughly inspected visually, regardless of color. Both types of items provide nice hidden harborages. Bake the lot.
So glad you have a plan and don't have to turn friends away. The decon may seem over-cautious to your friends, but I think you're right to be cautious.
Well....... . People have given great advice about how to proceed, if they are coming and you really want to go thru this.
But to me, the discovery of bed bugs places people in a whole new life, at least for a while, maybe several months or more. And some aspects of that new life are permanent, even after the bugs are gone. There is a necessary psychology for this fight; a psychology that recognizes that something definitive and life-altering has befallen us. I know it is difficult to cancel flights, but it sounds to me like your friends (assuming they really have bedbugs) are trying to proceed as though not much has really changed. Everything I did changed in some way when I realized I had bedbugs, and the last thing I would have done, early on, was fly across the ocean and stay with someone, placing the host's (you) peace of mind in great jeopardy. I don't see how you can really enjoy this vacation with them.
Yes, you can get them to take all those precautions (which at this point they don't seem to respect very much) and maybe come out of this ok. It's up to you, and I know it is complicated. But bed bugs impact on relationships, and the way we conduct those relationships. Your friends don't appear to realize how big this really is. They have to figure out if they actually have them and deal with it; pending a life-threatening disease, nothing else should matter to them more right now. Best of luck, whatever you decide to do.
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