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Prep Question: Laptops and Electronics and traveling safely

(3 posts)
  1. flippingoutalittle

    Joined: Jun '11
    Posts: 22


    Posted 8 years ago
    Tue Jun 7 2011 17:08:10

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    Okay. So. I know that I just made a thread about sleep (and I still have those questions), but now I have a different set of questions about preparations for treatment and what to do about things I use a lot.

    We're going to be having our first bed bug treatment in a week, and right now we're trying to tackle this monster that is preparation. One of the procedures is to put everything into bags, including any electronics we can- alarm clocks, etc, you name it. We're going to start a clothing quarantine system; with a limited wardrobe that we clean and put into airtight bags as soon as they're hot from the dryer. We won't put them on until we're basically ready to leave the house.

    Now I'm noticing that a lot of people have advice like get a purse or a bag and keep it in a zip lock while you're in home. This.. may be a problem, so I'll divide it into two questions.

    I'm a student. Right now it's the summer, but my boyfriend is still taking summer classes. He has a bag that he has to take out of this apartment, and he has to use while he's in this apartment. We can probably quarantine it for most of the time, but there will be time he needs to get stuff out and access it. The bag can be washed [probably], but the rest of the contents not so much. What do we do? Should we just quarantine it while we can?

    Also, how do we handle things that we similarly need to use both inside and out of this apartment, that we cannot launder? Things like textbooks? What about cellphones, laptops, and stuff? I am not taking class right now, but I still have a lot of business that I need to conduct basically exclusively with my computer and my cellphone. I can drop down to my netbook, powercord, cellphone, cellphone charger, bag of pens, and a single sketchbook, but those are pretty much bare minimums. How do we handle quarantining these items? Should I see about doing what I can to cut off contact with the outside world completely, for the potential four weeks of treatment + followup/until we're told it's okay to take things out of bags? Should I absolutely NOT take these items out of the apartment?

    The other concern is my cats. I've been told that I should give them a parasite bath before the treatment so that they dont' carry the bed bugs out with them. I am concerned about giving them treatments three weeks in a row; parasite baths are poison. (if anyone knows an alternative to this or if they know a good bath that treats bed bugs, I would much appreciate it. Especially of concern is that one of the cats is a very young kitten, and I'm concerned about using poisonous baths on her). An alternative to giving them a bath every week, if I can convince my family that I'm not a contagious pariah who should have no contact with them (not overstating their current opinion of me in that, either), is going to stay at a relative's for the duration of the treatment. If I did that, I would be observing the spartan don't-take-the-clothes-out-of-the-quarentine-bag-until-we're-ready-to-leave strategy. What's the deal with traveling with those electronics I mentioned/is the concern such that I should absolutely not take them with me to the relatives?

    We cannot afford a packtight.

    Thanks for your help.

  2. buggyinsocal

    Joined: Jun '08
    Posts: 2,431


    Posted 8 years ago
    Tue Jun 7 2011 17:33:01

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    I currently have a cat, the same one I had at the time of my infestation.

    I'm not sure what a "parasite bath" is.

    I did have my cat removed from the apartment during treatment. (Full disclosure: I had heat treatment.) I was, unfortunately, not able to schedule heat treatment until a day I was already scheduled to leave for a family wedding. As a result, here's what I did with the cat.

    Day of treatment: wrangle the cat into the carrier, hand her off to my catsitter, who took her to a local groomer to get bathed.

    Catsitter advantaged my cat, post treatment, and kept my cat at her apartment for a day or two (mostly because it was the end of June in So Cal, and it was already a heat wave--before you factored in how hot the apartment was post-heat treatment.)

    Cat went back into the apartment while I was gone.

    Cat carrier got washed with hot, soapy water on the very off chance that there were hitchhikers.

    In retrospect, honestly the flea treatment was more so she wouldn't get fleas while being outside at the catsitter's/exposed to other cats.

    Bed bugs are not like fleas and ticks; they don't harbor on the host. Sure, it's possible that a bed bug might accidentally get carried on the cat, but frankly, it's statistically pretty unlikely.

    Now, if the PCO is asking for all those parasite baths, then you're in a sightly different place. PCOs can refuse to treat/retreat if their prep isn't followed.

    Also, if you have a regular vet, you might call the vet to see what the effects of multiple parasite baths would be on the cats.

    RE: stuff you can't pack up.

    1. Maybe for you guys the answer is a three tiered system:

    definitely clear

    possibly exposed but unlikely to harbor

    high risk.

    The items that you know are clear--because they've been carefully inspected or treated in teh dryer with heat--go into bags CLEARLY labeled as clear.

    The items that you know have a good chance of having been exposed go into other bags, so labeled.

    Items that you cannot live without that are, frankly, unlikely to have been infested go into the third category.

    I would pare down the stack of stuff you're using--as you've outlined above.

    When you're home reading the text books, try not to read them on the bed or in the bedroom. When you're done with them for the night, put them into ziplocks that are reserved for those items. Take them and your school/work bags out of those ziplocks, head off to work/school, and when you come home, back into their ziplocks they go--except when you're using them.

    In other words, you're looking to limit their exposure to bugs inside the home as much as possible. Keep them away from active infestations that you know about.

    Again, I'm not advocating reckless behavior. But I think it's important, to put things in perspective to keep the following in mind: not every item in your home is infested.

    Be cautious. Do everything you can to minimize exposure. Absolutely.

    But don't get so hyper-vigilant that you despair entirely. For example, I had bed bugs for at least 6 weeks, during which time (while I never used my laptop in bed)I took my laptop and my books and papers back and forth from school to work to work and then back home again and again. I traveled to several conferences, staying with roommates in hotels or at the homes of friends, and none of those friends ever got bed bugs from me.

    Was I absolutely terrified when I figured out I had bed bugs, which I didn't even know existed, and might have exposed so many people?

    You betcha. And I would never want to go through that kind of terror and guilt and shame again.

    But it can be easy reading the posts in the forum to assume that bed bugs are the most contagious pest on the planet. Yes, be careful. Yes, minimize possibilities.

    I would never suggest that you travel to multiple hotels and workplaces without taking a single precaution.

    I do retell that story though mostly to point out that sometimes we swing too far in the other direction. I'm sure your family is terrified, but as long as you're following the protocols outlined in the FAQ, you don't have to be a total pariah either.

  3. flippingoutalittle

    Joined: Jun '11
    Posts: 22


    Posted 8 years ago
    Thu Jun 9 2011 19:11:49

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    Related question, and I'm sorry if you covered this and I'm just being dense and painfully sleep deprived:

    I need to limit exposure, which means not use the items in the places where there are bed bugs, correct? The problem is that they're in every room. That's not saying a lot; it's a one bedroom, so that really just means they're in the living room, they're in the bedroom, and they're in the bathroom. I don't know about the kitchen. I know they're not spraying the kitchen, and I havne't seen signs of them in the kitchen, and it's not like we spend HOURS in the kitchen.. but at the same time, that's where our washer and dryer is, so we ARE carrying infested items through the kitchen...

    Anyway. That basically means there isn't anywhere safe to use a lot of these items... should I just swallow and hope it goes okay and not sit on something I know to be infested? (I have a chair that is basically not-upholstered and that I haven't been bitten in to my knowledge). Should I avoid using these objects while I'm at home as much as possible? Go out on the porch? Etc?

    I may be flipping out excessively, but then again I might not.. I just had to throw out 3 sketchbooks and one of my favorite books because they had the little black spots that meant infestation all along the spine. (they weren't priceless or anything- 10$ each at the most, but it still kinda hurts to get rid of things like that). Those books had been living in an area I previously had thought to be clear. There literally is nowhere safe in my apartment from these little %$#%$#.

    Also, a parasite bath is kind of like a broad-spectrum.. well, parasite bath. You've got flea baths, and then you've got baths that also cover lice and dust mites and other things. We used one at the vet I worked at for all boarding animals except those under a certain age.

    I decided to go with an ordinary flea shampoo, though, more to protect my cat from fleas while he's staying over at my grandmothers during the treatment. The little kitten is too young, so I guess she'll just take an ordinary bath... but hopefully that'll be enough to ward off any of them which might for some reason be hanging out in her fur.

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