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traveling by auto and potential bed bug encounter in florida

(9 posts)
  1. vacationruined

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    Posted 8 years ago
    Fri Sep 16 2011 14:06:00
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    I traveled with my family to FL and somewhere along the way it seems we encountered a bed bug infestation. The only evidence we have are the terrible bites we received, especially two of my children who shared one particular bed. We thought at first they were no-see-um bites, but after some research we found the pattern of bites to be typical of bed bugs. Unfortunately, we had already left the hotel in question and moved to another one. We read about what precautions to take while there and did everything we could in that situation by throwing clothes we'd need into the clothes dryers and then bagging them in separate plastic bags that we could take to the hotel room. We left all other belongings in our van, contained in black plastic garbage bags. Everything went into the bags and we parked the van closed up in the hot Florida sun for an entire day. We notified the hotel we were in then about our predicament. The new hotel inspected the room we were in and found no evidence of bb's. They offered to move us to another room (I thought that was odd). Anyways, we also notified the other hotel in which we stayed, but of course they are insistent that they found no evidence of bed bugs.

    We researched and found advice that says baking the van and its contents in the hot sun for the day would do the trick, but of course we are nervous about carrying the bb's into our home. All clothes were bagged and taken straight to the laundry to be washed in hot water and then dried on the highest setting. We have dried the clothes several times, just to be safe. Toiletry bags have been pitched, but we've kept some of the contents of the things that have no way of harboring the bb's (have no crevices). We tossed pillows that we brought along already and bought new ones, including cases.

    Here are the things I am still freaked out about:
    -souvenirs the kids purchased that were in our van (we dried on hot several times stuffed animals, but there are a few items I don't know what to do with--they were bagged in regular open plastic bags and wrapped in either bubble wrap or tissue paper--one is a wooden souvenir my son purchased)
    -books the children traveled with that were taken into the hotel and some were left in the van
    -electronic games and equipment (Nintendo DSi's, the games, and the bags they were in, mp3 players)
    -the luggage itself which has not been brought into the house yet (soft-sided)
    -shoes (though I have run them through the drier)
    -the van! (it did sit in the hot sun, though, and we are having it detailed, then will do another very thorough vacuuming once it's detailed--we did alert the person detailing the van as to the problem)

    I've read about the Packtite, but we are strapped for cash and want to handle it in the best, but most affordable way possible. Since everything was left in the van, while parked in the hot sun, can we feel safe that it did the trick to kill anything that might have hitchhiked its way along with us? I am willing to inspect each book, page by page, but is freezing an alternative? And what to do about the electronics? I'm concerned about ruining them if we try to freeze or even if we were to consider Packtite. I am less concerned about the luggage, but would like to save it, if possible. Can soft-sided luggage go into the dryer and will that do the trick, or is it safer to just toss the luggage? Sandals, sneakers--I'm assuming the dryer did the trick, but I'm willing to toss that, too, if necessary.

    Of course, the biggest concern is our vehicle. We will not be there to watch the guy detail it (it will take him several hours) and we do plan to vacuum it again (and again and again, if necessary). It is an old van (10 years), but still in good running condition, so we hate to think about dumping it. What is the best thing to do?

  2. Dbuggedout

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    Posted 8 years ago
    Fri Sep 16 2011 14:30:51
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    Dear VacationedRuined,

    I read your story and am so sorry to hear of your vacation troubles. I am not an expert, just a fellow sufferer and just wanted to put my 2 cents in.

    It sounds like you are taking the proper precautions! The dryer is my best friend right now, though I am not looking forward to my electric bill!!

    I would think that the dryer would be fine for your soft-sided luggage. My suggestion would be to dry it for an hour on high setting. I have been doing that with every thing I possible can. As far as your souveniers, wooden things I would wipe down thoroughly with Murphy's Oil soap.

    I'm sure the experts will be along shortly to give you more advice......Good luck

  3. cilecto

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    Posted 8 years ago
    Fri Sep 16 2011 18:33:47
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    Hi, dryers are your friends, as your friend noted. Parking in the sun is not 100% reliable, but as you kept items sealed when you did it, there's the good chance you at least prevented escape into the van. For thick or delicate items, a longer run in a somewhat cooler dryer (time for heat to penetrate, but not hot enough to ruin the item). There are racks you can set up in a dryer for items that can't tumble. For "hard" items, it's probably best to visually inspect as best as you can. Soaps like Murphy's will kill on contact the bugs you hit directly, but you can see these anyway and just pick them off. You can't get inside most items anyway. Focus on fabrics, things that were unpacked/or in drawers, bed night stand.

    Freezing can be of some use for some items, but experts seem to be unsure of how long. At least 0F and a week. Items should be bagged to prevent moisture damage. Opening doors compromises effectiveness. Do not freeze electronics, as you risk damage, or fire when you use them again. Paperbacks can be inspected relatively easy, if you know what to look for (FAQ). Check the edges and pages where there's a folded sheet or "dog ear", which could leave a space for a BB. If you put weight/pressure on the book, nothing is likely to survive.

    You've probably done the best you can with the van, between the heat and vacuuming Do check creases and under seats as best you can and keep your eyes out for any changes. Experts seem to say that for some odd reason, BB rarely infest cars. Also, as member "Buggy in SoCal" once wrote, contrary to people's fears, BB are not "tribbles with Velcro". Some people encounter BB in hotels, etc. and don't infest their homes.

    Your second hotel probably offered you a replacement room because they were likely confused that you were reporting an issue at THEIR property. I can't see myself reporting to a hotel that I'd encountered BB at another facility.

    I'm glad you've already read our travel FAQ. If not, please be sure to.
    http://bedbugger.com/faqs/travel/

    Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night...
    - Psalms 91:5-7

    (Not an pro)
  4. vacationruined

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    Posted 8 years ago
    Fri Sep 16 2011 23:37:04
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    cilecto,
    We were advised by our pediatrician (and also found another source online that suggested it) to bag everything and put it in the vehicle in the hot sun. At that point, we had already traveled from one hotel to the other with the luggage that may have been infested. We figured if we bagged everything and closed it tightly, it was worth a shot. We had a 24 hour ride home to face with our children and dog, so the potential for the spread to the van was there anyways. We were not placing stuff in the van, knowing the van could not be infested--it was already potentially infested.

    Now I've been reading that putting things in car in the hot sun is not very effective, as stuff packed tightly does not heat up as much. That's a disappointment, but we were not relying on that solely anyways. All clothes and soft items have been put through laundering more than once, some things were shoved in plastic bags and into our freezer, until we could find out what to do about them. We are considering Nuvan strips to use for the kids' electronics, as there is quite a bit of money (much of their own savings, too) invested there. We have purchased a large plastic container in which to place those items with the Nuvan. As of now, they are bagged in large Ziplock bags and are in the plastic containers outside until we can treat.

    Once home, the clothes were transferred to plastic bags and then straight to the laundry for washing on hot and drying on high also. I'm hoping we have done enough there.

    Our dog was taken straight to the tub, once we arrived home, and I did what I could to bathe him. I do not know what else we could've done (and it was 4 AM when we arrived home, after driving for over 15 hours that day) to ensure our pet was not carrying the little buggers, and it is a nagging concern for me still. I am quite sure I plucked one off him before we realized we had encountered bb's. I thought it was a tick he had just picked up and was surprised at how easily I removed it. UGH!

    As for the new hotel, we reported the potential that we may have unknowingly encountered a bb infestation at another hotel, and wanted to let them know out of respect for other travelers and their property. They were extremely grateful and accommodating, and they brought in a company to inspect and treat the room and would be doing the same for the room to which they moved us. I was expecting to be asked to leave. We did what we thought was the right and ethical thing to do. We felt totally insane doing so, but we did not feel right about leaving without informing them.

    We've been home for two days now and still freaking out worrying if we are doing enough to protect our home. We've pitched more than I care to think about, and now just trying to move forward and pray we have protected our home. I am very concerned about both our van and our home. Hubby and I are exhausted. This has been a nightmare, though I've been through much worse...

    cilecto - 4 hours ago  » 
    Hi, dryers are your friends, as your friend noted. Parking in the sun is not 100% reliable, but as you kept items sealed when you did it, there's the good chance you at least prevented escape into the van. For thick or delicate items, a longer run in a somewhat cooler dryer (time for heat to penetrate, but not hot enough to ruin the item). There are racks you can set up in a dryer for items that can't tumble. For "hard" items, it's probably best to visually inspect as best as you can. Soaps like Murphy's will kill on contact the bugs you hit directly, but you can see these anyway and just pick them off. You can't get inside most items anyway. Focus on fabrics, things that were unpacked/or in drawers, bed night stand.
    Freezing can be of some use for some items, but experts seem to be unsure of how long. At least 0F and a week. Items should be bagged to prevent moisture damage. Opening doors compromises effectiveness. Do not freeze electronics, as you risk damage, or fire when you use them again. Paperbacks can be inspected relatively easy, if you know what to look for (FAQ). Check the edges and pages where there's a folded sheet or "dog ear", which could leave a space for a BB. If you put weight/pressure on the book, nothing is likely to survive.
    You've probably done the best you can with the van, between the heat and vacuuming Do check creases and under seats as best you can and keep your eyes out for any changes. Experts seem to say that for some odd reason, BB rarely infest cars. Also, as member "Buggy in SoCal" once wrote, contrary to people's fears, BB are not "tribbles with Velcro". Some people encounter BB in hotels, etc. and don't infest their homes.
    Your second hotel probably offered you a replacement room because they were likely confused that you were reporting an issue at THEIR property. I can't see myself reporting to a hotel that I'd encountered BB at another facility.
    I'm glad you've already read our travel FAQ. If not, please be sure to.
    http://bedbugger.com/faqs/travel/

  5. jsmith85249

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    Posted 8 years ago
    Mon Sep 19 2011 0:31:15
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    Vacationruined, sorry to hear what you are going through. I too had concerns about having transferring BBs to the car after a stay in an infested room (unfortunately I didn't know about the infestation until over a week later). I live in Phoenix and the K9 handler who I had inspect my house this week told me not to worry about the car. I wanted to pay to have my car inspected and she convinced me not to bother. She said that with the 112 temperatures we have had here the temp inside the closed car easily reaches 160 for several hours each day. Good news for the car, but like you, I am wondering if it got hot enough to kill any hitchhikers that may have been inside our suitcases. I plan to get a thermometer and do some tests inside filled suitcases just to satisfy my curiosity. Anyhow, obviously I'm not an expert, just another panicked person dealing with this for the first time, but hopefully for you the sealed car in the hot Florida sun got plenty hot and fried any little critters that may have tried to make it home with you. I agree with you, this is a nightmare but it sounds like you did everything you could once you became aware of the problem. Kudos to you for speaking with the hotels you stayed at following your exposure, that was very considerate of you and unfortunately I doubt many people would have bothered.

  6. vacationruined

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    Posted 8 years ago
    Mon Sep 19 2011 9:15:03
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    jsmith85249,
    Thanks for your kind post. I have been going insane--worried about the potential for our home becoming infested. Sounds like you should be fine with your car, since it gets so hot there. We didn't experience the hottest temp's in Florida (mostly in the high 80's to low 90's), but for the most part sunny all day when we had our luggage and other belongings in the van. I wish I could say we drove back to even warmer weather, but I live in southern NH and right now we are lucky to be seeing temp's in the high 60's. UGH!

    We had thrown a few articles from the van into Ziploc bags and into the freezer, as we thought it was a good option at the time. My curiosity got me to grab a bag last night (that contained the folder from our glove compartment, which contained our registration, user manual, and various receipts from repair work. I shook the bag (while closed, of course) and noticed what appears to be a light-colored insect, which seems to be dead. My husband shrugged it off, but I'm wondering if it's a nymph. Finding that has caused me to begin freaking out again, but I cannot be sure what it is and don't know how to go about having it identified. If it is a BB nymph, then that's the evidence we feared finding--that they were transported via our luggage to the van.

    I keep wondering how long we'll have to endure not knowing if they have invaded our home, and how we will manage to keep them out of our home, if in fact we have BB's in the van. My husband is willing to drive the van and take precautions upon leaving and entering our home, but I'm sure it will get old quickly. And if they managed to get into our home, I wonder if we'll be able to manage to keep our other vehicle BB free.

    With other challenges already keeping me up at nights (two boys with congenital heart defects and Dad has Alzheimer's), I don't know if I'll ever get a good night's sleep again... And all we wanted was two weeks to get away from it all. Hardly seems worth it now.

    Thanks again for your kind support!

    jsmith85249 - 8 hours ago  » 
    Vacationruined, sorry to hear what you are going through. I too had concerns about having transferring BBs to the car after a stay in an infested room (unfortunately I didn't know about the infestation until over a week later). I live in Phoenix and the K9 handler who I had inspect my house this week told me not to worry about the car. I wanted to pay to have my car inspected and she convinced me not to bother. She said that with the 112 temperatures we have had here the temp inside the closed car easily reaches 160 for several hours each day. Good news for the car, but like you, I am wondering if it got hot enough to kill any hitchhikers that may have been inside our suitcases. I plan to get a thermometer and do some tests inside filled suitcases just to satisfy my curiosity. Anyhow, obviously I'm not an expert, just another panicked person dealing with this for the first time, but hopefully for you the sealed car in the hot Florida sun got plenty hot and fried any little critters that may have tried to make it home with you. I agree with you, this is a nightmare but it sounds like you did everything you could once you became aware of the problem. Kudos to you for speaking with the hotels you stayed at following your exposure, that was very considerate of you and unfortunately I doubt many people would have bothered.

  7. OhNoes

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    Posted 8 years ago
    Mon Sep 19 2011 9:23:45
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    Take a close up photo of the bug in question and post it for people to look at. People here are pretty good at IDing bugs.

  8. vacationruined

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    Posted 8 years ago
    Mon Sep 19 2011 10:04:19
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    Thanks for the suggestion! I'll do that as soon as I get my hands on a camera--ours is in lockdown in a Rubbermaid tote outside, enclosed in a Ziploc bag until we get our hands on some Nuvan strips.

    OhNoes - 39 minutes ago  » 
    Take a close up photo of the bug in question and post it for people to look at. People here are pretty good at IDing bugs.

  9. jsmith85249

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    Posted 8 years ago
    Mon Sep 19 2011 10:44:07
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    Vacationruined, you are dealing with so much, I agree with OhNoes. Take a picture as soon as you can and post it on this forum. Read the tips here first for suggestions on how to get a good identifiable photo: http://bedbugger.com/forum/topic/how-do-i-get-a-bug-photo-identified-how-do-i-upload-a-photo-of-my-bug#post-118277 It could be a completely unrelated bug and you are increasing your worry for no reason. If it is a BB, the good news is that it is dead so something you did must be working. On a positive note, I'm so glad to hear that your husband is on board with you in this. I think it really helps to have support of the people around you. So many posts here talk about one spouse battling this alone with the other in denial and/or calling them paranoid.


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