Wipe the remote, and 9 other tips for a clean, safe and relaxing hotel stay

Be wary of drinking glasses, and don’t put your luggage on the bed if you want to avoid bed bugs

IrishTimes

Don’t assume that just because hotel is super posh it won’t have bed bugs. Image: iStock

Irish Times |by Geoffrey Morrison | August 14, 2019

I’ve lost count how many hotels I’ve stayed in. Hundreds, for sure, and on every continent except Antarctica. From beach-side resorts in St Kitts in the Caribbean, to a grand, soaring high-rise in Tokyo, to a castle-adjacent treehouse on the north coast of Scotland, I’ve stayed in some truly lovely places. I’ve also stayed at dilapidated dives in Vegas with rusty taps and rugs so thin you could see the concrete underneath. The memory of the latter still makes me itch.

Over the years I’ve come up with a set of tips and tricks I use in every hotel, from 5-star to wear-your-shoes-in-the-bathroom-star. They range from a little peace of mind and a reduction of annoyance to maintaining a bit of safety and health while travelling. Starting with …

1. The remote is gross
What is touched by everyone but rarely cleaned? A quick swipe with some baby wipes or a damp (not wet) hand towel should help a bit.

2. 20°C is 68°F
Need to set the thermostat in your room? Twenty degrees Celsius is equal to 68°F – a good place to start.

3. Be skeptical of drinking glasses, especially if the hotel lacks a restaurant
Generally, drinking glasses are cleaned after every guest. Generally. If there’s no on-site restaurant, though, how are they cleaned? By hand presumably, but how well? Give them a rinse and a sniff, at least.

4. Don’t put your luggage on the bed
Bed bugs are gross little vampires. Like mosquitoes, but worse. Putting your luggage on the bed can give them a free ride to your next location … like your house. The luggage rack might not be a good option either, since it’s usually close to the bed. Your best bet is to put your luggage in the bathroom and then give the bed, rack, and chair/sofa a close look. Also, don’t assume that just because hotel is super posh it won’t have bed bugs. They might have more means to get rid of the problem, but it can happen anywhere.

5. Bring long cables for your phone
As the number of devices needing to charge increases, the number of outlets available in hotel rooms … stays the same. I’ve stayed in new hotels with zero easily-accessible plugs. Mind blowing. In most airports you can pick up long USB cables so you can plug in and still, hopefully, use your phone from the bed. Travel power strips are handy for plugging multiple devices into that one outlet you found behind the bed.

6. Yes, you can take the little shampoo bottles. No, you can’t take the robe
Some hotels give the remaining soaps to charities like Clean the World. It’s worth checking if they do, as perhaps that’s a better use of the remaining soap than getting lost in your luggage or forgotten in your home medicine cabinet. Many hotels are moving toward large-bottle dispensers, both as a cost- and Earth-saving measure.

7. Lock, latch, and put out the do not disturb sign
Housekeeping comes early. Exactly 100 per cent of the time I’ve wanted to sleep in and forgot to put out the sign, housekeeping wakes me up. In how many languages do you know how to say “come back later, please?” For me, when woken from a deep slumber, a croaky none.

Enabling the safety latch also lets you open the door to see if it really is management knocking while preventing said knocker from unexpectedly opening the door fully. Exceptionally unlikely, sure, but why take the chance?

8. Take a picture of the safe code
Even if you just use your birthday or something memorable in the moment, take a picture of the number you program into the safe.

9. Laundry is expensive
I travel for months at a time. I do laundry about once a week. At an expensive laundromat in Paris I paid €7 for a load of all my clothes. While trapped at a hotel in Fiji during a typhoon I paid $10 for each pair of underwear.

You should definitely pack light enough that you’ll need to do laundry on any trip longer than a week. Some hotels, and nearly all hostels, have inexpensive laundry facilities on-site or nearby. The staff will usually help you find a place. There’s always washing in the sink too, which is free if you have the time.

10. And lastly … Stay in a hostel instead
I’ve spent the majority of nights during my extended travels of the last five years in hostels. Hotels can be great, but they’re invariably expensive. Hostels probably aren’t what you think, and can be a great way to save money and meet new people.

– New York Times

CNET report details guest’s bed bug problem at Philly Airbnb

Plus, some tips to make sure your stay is free of any creepy-crawlies

airbnb bed bugs philly

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PHILLY VOICE by Bailey King – August 14, 2019

Airbnb has taken the world by storm since its 2008 launch, providing travelers a more home-y and authentic experience at costs often lower than hotels.

While the user experience with Airbnb is generally regarded as seamless, one irritating problem has bothered some travelers: bed bugs.

A quick Google search of “Airbnb bed bugs” brings up pages and pages of reports of the discovery of reddish brown bug infestations or clustered itchy bites on the skin.

A CNET story published Tuesday about Airbnb’s problem included one woman’s report of bed bugs at an Airbnb here in Philadelphia. (Perhaps this is no surprise since Philly topped one list of cities  most infested by the pests.)


The woman, Dariele Blain, told CNET she found a bug crawling on the bed of a six-bedroom townhome she rented for a birthday party in July. She sent photos to Airbnb, which confirmed her suspicion that it was a bed bug, but the company said it could not relocate her 20-guest party to another Airbnb, to prevent spreading the bugs. Instead, the group was told to book a hotel, which Airbnb reimbursed – plus the original rental fee – within a few days, Blain said.

Blain told CNET:

“There’s nothing in there [about] what to do if the house is not clean or if there’s bedbugs. They need to be more proactive with stuff like that because it’s a public health issue.”

(This appears to be common protocol, as friends of mine had the same experience in Montreal and had to move to a hotel.)

While this is Airbnb’s unofficial protocol, there is no official one. The company claims to handle bed bug cases on a case-by-case basis and, in one such instance, reportedly asked a renter to sign a nondisclosure after an incident.

Bed bugs are a type of insect that feed on human blood, usually during nighttime hours. While they do not transmit disease, their bites can result in skin rashes, psychological effects and allergic symptoms. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, bed bugs are, indeed, a public health issue.

While hotels primarily have a handle on the little critters, no place is truly safe from an infestation.

The New York Times has an all-inclusive tip guide for to make sure you don’t bring any bed bugs home with you. These tips include looking out for the telltale brown-black stains on sheets, mattresses and boxsprings, avoiding putting your luggage on the bed and use a lint roller to test luggage for bugs after travel.

And read the full story from CNET, “Bedbugs are giving Airbnb users headaches… and itchy bites.”

Thousands of bugs, “deplorable conditions” found in home with four children

CRESTVIEW, Fla. (WKRG) — August 2, 2019 by Cody Long — Deputies responded to a call of domestic battery Tuesday to find a home with thousands of cockroaches, spiders and other bugs and children sleeping on the floor, according to an arrest report.

James Reid, Latina Reid and Daniel Reid were arrested at their home on Fleming Drive, charged with child neglect and taken to the Okaloosa County Jail.

Four children were home when their grandmother Latina Reid battered her adult son Daniel Reid who’s the father of two of the children, according to the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office.

The arrest report states the home was in “deplorable conditions” and there were thousands of bugs crawling around. There was no bed for the children because it was thrown out because of an infestation of bed bugs along with the living room furniture.

Children were seen sleeping on a pallet on the floor while bugs crawled on their face. There was mold on the walls and floors, household garbage was found throughout the house and there was rotting food in the bathroom and cockroaches crawling on children’s toothbrushes, according to deputies.

Deputies also reported seeing bug bites on the children.

The Department of Children and Families removed the children from the home.

Woman’s Attempt to Kill Bedbugs May Have Sparked Upper Darby Apartment Fire

The woman said the flames from her stove lit up rubbing alcohol that she had poured to try to kill the bedbugs

NBC10 Philadelphia | by Randy Gyllenhaal and Rudy Chinchilla | August 1, 2019

A fire that consumed an Upper Darby apartment and caused evacuations in the rest of the complex may have been sparked by a woman’s misguided attempt to get rid of bedbugs.

An elderly woman living on the fourth floor of the Elizabeth Manor Apartments complex told firefighters and NBC10 that it was she who accidentally caused the Thursday morning blaze after the flames from her stove set alight rubbing alcohol that she had poured as a way of getting rid of bedbugs.

Because the fire station is only a few blocks from the complex, firefighters were able to respond quickly, going door to door to tell people to evacuate as they extinguished the blaze, Upper Darby Township Fire Company Deputy Chief Peter Huf said.

“First-arriving companies were met with heavy fire showing out the top floor and window of the apartment and a report of people trapped,” he said.

Dozens of residents were temporarily displaced, but there were no reports of injuries. The fire was also contained mostly to just the woman’s unit, with some minor smoke damage to neighboring units, and residents were allowed back inside.

Fire investigators, however, were still working to determine whether or not the blaze really was caused by a bedbug extermination attempt gone wrong, Huf said.

 

Woman claims son was bit by bed bugs at local hotel

WEST SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) — by Ryan Trowbridge and Audrey Russo

A woman who stayed for a night in a West Springfield hotel is speaking out after she says her son got bit by bed bugs.

Czhanell McCray doesn’t live in western Massachusetts, but she wanted to warn travelers locally and spoke exclusively with Western Mass News about how a few small bugs caused bigger problems for her family.

“On our way home, early afternoon, he really started profusely scratching really bad,” McCray said.

After a day of shooting hoops in a local basketball tournament, McCray’s 14-year-old son was taking home more than a trophy.

McCray told us over video chat that the night before, something had bitten her son.

“I just said mosquitoes must have, you know, gotten a hold of you,” McCray added.

However. the scratching got worse and after taking her son to urgent care, McCray noted, “the doctor didn’t even want to touch him. She just, you know, looked at him and said well, this is the bed bug situation here.”

McCray showed Western Mass News the doctor’s note with the diagnosis. She said she called the hotel where she and her son stayed – the Hampton Inn in West Springfield – to report the issue.

“Just want to make people aware to, when they’re coming to any hotel, just to make sure that they, which I found out they, strip down the bed, check the bed boards, look up under the mattresses,” McCray said.

We went to the West Springfield Health Department. Their records show two bed bugs were found by a pest management company a few days after McCray and her son checked out.

The report showed the bugs were likely introduced recently to the room and that it was treated and ventilated.

Western Mass News reached out to the Hampton Inn and they said “The hotel employs a comprehensive detection program which maintains the highest levels of vigilance.” They went on to say that they refunded McCray’s stay, but McCray said the issue will end up costing her more in extermination fees.

“Now we have to, out of inconvenience, have to get my home bombed,” McCray said.

Health department officials said they’ve seen increase in community bed bug reports in the last five years.

“The fact that people travel so much has increased the likelihood of being exposed,” said West Springfield public health nurse Mary Allen.

Health officials said the best thing you can do is check your hotel bed before sleeping in it, along mattress seams, headboards, and baseboards.

“They’re not as small as a tick, they’re a little bit bigger…like an adult would probably be the size of a normal house fly,” said Lauren Kennedy with the West Springfield Health Department.

Something, the size of a fly has caused much bigger problems for McCray’s family.

“The uncomfortability that he’s saying, the pain that he’s saying. How many showers that he has to take, he’s home from school. I’m taking half days from work just to come check on him to make sure he’s all right. The doctors tell him that’s going to take awhile for this thing to go away,” McCray said.

Battling bed bugs? They’re spreading around Spokane

SPOKANE, Wash. – Maher Kawash – July 26, 2019 – You may want to check your home and office for bed bugs.

Did we mention your favorite coffee shop isn’t safe either?

Bed bugs are popping up in homes, offices, and even stores around Spokane in larger than usual numbers.

Buying pest spray from the story may not cut it. Instead, you’ll need a couple thousand dollars to get rid of those bed bugs.

4 News Now spoke to a family in Medical Lake, whose home was infested with bed bugs which they believe came home with their daughter from Downtown Spokane.

“The bugs are downtown though I’m 99 percent sure they came home on my daughter,” Gail Vanamburg said.

VanAmburg says her daughter works at the Spokane Public Library four days a week and always comes home directly after that on the bus.

4 News Now reached out to the library but hasn’t heard back.

When we spoke to the Spokane Transit Authority, they told us they inspect and clean their buses every night.

Pest control expert Raymond VanderLouw said it’s really a matter of more people carrying their stuff around with them when they travel.  He said those bed bugs can get in backpacks, sleeping bags, and blankets before moving onto your body or other belongings.

A majority of what we end up treating are multi-family units, we do some hospitality spots, we have treated coffee shops, clinics, imaging centers. There are a lot of places that we’re seeing them that I honestly didn’t think we would end up seeing them.” VanderLouw said.

He also says the most common place for bed bugs is used furniture.
It’s easier than you’d think for bed bugs to move around in public, sitting in people’s bags, purses, or strollers.

So how do you know if you’re at risk? Well, it’s all about awareness.

“You got to assume there’s bed bugs in everything. I assume there’s bed bugs everywhere I go, and because I’m aware and I take those steps, I protect myself and my family,” VanderLouw said.

Mother fears Marion movie theater has bedbugs again

 

MARION, Ind. (WTHR)| by Emily Longnecker | July 26, 2019 – It was supposed to be a family outing to see a movie classic.

“We went to ‘The Lion King.’ We were in Theatre 9,” said mom Sheila Ruley of her trip to the AMC Classic Theatre in Marion last week with her kids.

The visit, said Ruley, was memorable for all the wrong reasons.

“Within about 10 minutes, I felt a bite,” Ruley recalled.

When Ruley used her phone’s flashlight, she saw something had bitten her.

“I had a bunch of bites all over my arms,” Ruley explained, adding that with each second that passed, the swelling on those bites just got worse.

When she lifted up the armrest of her seat, she said she saw bedbugs there.

“There was four of them just crawling right on the armrest,” said Ruley.

The mom said she knows what they look like, because a guest in her home three years ago brought them to her house.

“It’s a nightmare. We had to get all new furniture, all new mattresses. It was a nightmare, so I don’t want to deal with it again,” Ruley said.

When Ruley said she told the manager about the bedbugs, she said they suggested she had a mosquito bite instead.

“I said I know what bedbugs are,” Ruley recalled. “She goes, ‘I forgot to tell you someone had ticks in here the other day, so it might be ticks.'”

Ruley wasn’t buying it.

“I’m like, ‘Ticks don’t bite. They bite and then crawl under your skin’,” Ruley said she told the manager.

This isn’t the first time a visitor to the Marion theater has complained that bedbugs bit them. Last November, Eyewitness News spoke with a woman who told us she was bitten all over her legs and arms.

The Grant County Health Department came in and found there was a problem, finding evidence of bedbugs and their eggs.

The theater manager told Eyewitness News they couldn’t comment on the situation this time, that only a corporate spokesperson could. We tried to get through to someone at AMC’s corporate offices and couldn’t.

Ruley said she tried to call, too, a few times, and said she was put on hold.

“Been on there 45 minutes both times and the other time I emailed and got a message and have not gotten anything back,” said Ruley.

That’s why this mom did a Facebook post to warn others about what she says happened to her.

“It more disappointed me because I’m there to enjoy family time. I shouldn’t have to get up and take care of a situation,” said Ruley.

She said the manager gave her six free passes to make up for it, but until Ruley has some answers about what she believes is anther bedbug issue, she’ll pass on those passes.

Bed Bugs are Still a Step Ahead…

Deep Look | July 9, 2019

At night, these parasites crawl onto your bed, bite you and suck your blood. Then they find a nearby hideout where they leave disgusting telltale signs. But these pests have an Achilles’ heel that stops them cold.

Adult bed bugs are about the size and color of an apple seed. After biting, they hide in a nearby cranny, like the seam of the mattress. At the University of California, Irvine, biologist and engineer Catherine Loudon is working to create synthetic surfaces that could trap bed bugs. She was inspired by the tiny hooked hairs that grow from the leaves of some varieties of beans, such as kidney and green beans. In nature, these hairs, called trichomes, pierce through the feet of the aphids and leafhoppers that like to feed on the plants. Researchers have found that these pointy hairs are just as effective against bed bugs, even though the bloodsucking parasites don’t feed on leaves. Loudon’s goal is to mimic a bean leaf’s mechanism to create an inexpensive, portable bed bug trap. “You could imagine a strip that would act as a barrier that could be placed virtually anywhere: across the portal to a room, behind the headboard, on subway seats, an airplane,” Loudon said. “They have six legs, so that’s six opportunities to get trapped.” — Where do bed bugs come from? Bed bugs don’t fly or jump or come in from the garden. They crawl very quickly and hide in travelers’ luggage. They also move around on secondhand furniture, or from apartment to apartment. — How can I avoid bringing bed bugs home? “It would probably be a prudent thing to do a quick bed check if you’re sleeping in a strange bed,” said Potter. His recommendation goes for hotel rooms, as well as dorms and summer camp bunk beds. He suggests pulling back the sheet at the head of the bed and checking the seams on the top and bottom of the mattress and the box spring. —+ For more tips, read the entire article on KQED Science: https://www.kqed.org/science/1944245/…

DEEP LOOK is a ultra-HD (4K) short video series created by KQED San Francisco and presented by PBS Digital Studios.

Alpine huts take drastic action to ensure the bed bugs don’t bite

German refuge tells tourists to microwave sleeping bags in effort to halt infestation.

The bed bug (Cimex lectularius). The German Alpine Club estimates that many of the 2,000 huts across the Alps are affected.

 The bed bug (Cimex lectularius). The German Alpine Club estimates that many of the 2,000 huts across the Alps are affected. Photograph: Alamy

Remote Alpine mountain refuges are battling an infestation of bed bugs transferred from hut to hut by hikers in their luggage and sleeping bags.

On Friday, the German Alpine Club introduced new guidelines to tackle the bugs, including asking guests to place luggage in special bags overnight to prevent the insects spreading.

One refuge has resorted to more extreme methods. The Münchner Haus, at a height of 2,964 metres on the Zugspitze mountain on the German-Austrian border, requires hikers to microwave their sleeping bags on the way in to kill the bugs.

The problem was not new but has worsened over previous years, said the German Alpine Club.

“We have to do more to solve this problem, otherwise it just keeps getting bigger,” said a spokesman, Thomas Bucher, on Friday. He added that the main battle was to raise awareness of the infestation.

Bucher estimated that 10%-15% of Germany’s 321 Alpine huts were now affected, though exact figures were not available.

“It’s a taboo subject, so we can only go on estimates at the moment. Lots of huts don’t want to come out publicly and say they are also affected. We only know now that the problem is there and that we have to fight it,” said Bucher.

“The fight against bed bugs needs both the hut landlords and the guests to do something. The guests are the ones who are spreading the bugs with their luggage, so they need to take care.”

An infestation of bed bugs is not an indication of poor hygiene. The insects are particularly drawn to mountain cabins, which are often built from wood.

Bucher said the bugs were also thought to have spread to many of the Alp’s 2,000 huts, which have become increasingly popular with tourists.

“It doesn’t matter if its in Germany, or Austria, or Switzerland, or France, or anywhere else [United States],” said Bucher. “The bugs don’t recognize borders.”

Bed Bug Allegedly Found On Montreal STM Bus (Video)

A brief video submitted to MTL Blog by Instagram user @sssareenak shows what appears to be a bed bug crawling across the seat of an STM bus in Montreal. The video was taken on Friday July 5th on the 968 bus, which runs between the Côte-Vertu orange line metro station and the Gare Roxboro-Pierrefonds.

An exterminator tells MTL Blog that though the video is too low quality to determine with 100% certainty the identity of the bug, a quick assessment suggests it is, indeed, a bed bug.

We reached out to the STM to inquire specifically about bed bugs on this bus line and, more generally, bed bugs on any vehicle in the STM network.

In response, an agency spokesperson explained only that “we regularly evaluate the cleanliness of buses and trains. When such a situation is brought to our attention, we quickly remove the vehicle from service and take the necessary measures.”

They further explain that bus interiors are washed every 42 days.

The short video of the alleged bed bug is below:

If this is, in fact, a bed bug, this would not be the first time the insect was found on public property.

Last year, an infestation of bed bugs at the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ) forced officials to remove most upholstered furniture from the enormous complex in downtown Montreal.

Plastic chairs replaced couches until exterminators were able to eradicate the pests.

Bed bugs, according to a page on the government of Canada website, “are small, wingless insects that feed on the blood of people and animals while they sleep.”

“A bedbug bite can take as long as 14 days to appear, depending on the person. While bites can happen anywhere on the skin, they are often found on the face, neck, arms, legs, and chest.”

There is no indication that bed bugs have spread on the STM network. This appears to have been an isolated incident.