You’ve heard all about bedbugs in hotels, but did you know they’re also hiding (and waiting to hitch a ride home with you) in these common public places? Bedbugs are smaller than a grain of rice, but visible to the naked eye. So be on the lookout, and check out the top 10 places to accidentally pick up bedbugs.
BY JENNIFER PLUM AUVIL
Crawling into bed with a good book has taken on a whole new meaning if you’re borrowing books from the public library system. Before you head home with a stash of bestsellers, check the pages and spines for bedbugs circulating from one reader’s home to the next.
From clothes to furniture, bedbugs are just waiting for moving day. In the summer of 2010, retail shops around Manhattan were closed for fumigation when bedbugs were found hiding out in the goods. Investigate any possible purchases for unusual stains and shake out clothing before bringing it into the house.
You may catch more than a matinee at your local cineplex. With cushy, upholstered seats and plenty of human hosts, the movie theater is prime real estate for bedbugs looking for a meal. Limit the personal belongings you bring with you to avoid bringing home your own critter horror show.
All kinds of people take public transportation, and bedbugs ride for free on planes, trains and buses. Bedbugs are small and hard to detect, so it’s unlikely you’ll see the pests getting cozy in your seat. However, you can take precautions when you return home — don’t place your bags on your bed, and closely inspect your belongings when you unpack.
Stuffed animals, cubbies and dorms are incubators for all things gross, and bedbugs are spreading along with the rest of the germs among students and roommates. Kids in daycare share their cots and beloved toys from home. College kids bring home their laundry and bedbugs. Check in with the school director or resident advisor for reports of a bedbug invasion.
Is nothing sacred? Clearly not for bedbugs who have been known to congregate in the holiest of places including temples, churches and religious meeting halls. Know how to spot a bedbug, and don’t let your guard down, even when offering up a prayer and gathering with like-minded worshippers.
The newest agenda item for many businesses is battling bedbugs that are just as likely to nestle into the carpet or furniture in the boardroom as they are in a bedroom. With clients and packages coming and going, bedbugs may move into an office space traveling on backpacks, briefcases, boxes, business suits or casual Friday clothing.
If you’re sorting and folding in shared spaces, there’s more to worry about than mixing your lights and darks, as bedbugs invade even the cleanest spots in town. Bedbug victims are often instructed to wash and dry infected clothing and personal belongings using extremely high heat. Avoid cross contamination in the laundromat by keeping your dirty laundry to yourself, investigating tables and chairs, and using the hottest washing and drying temperatures possible.
Bedbugs don’t discriminate against the sick or the old, and to prove this point, hospitals around the country had to quarantine patient rooms and triage centers in late summer and fall 2010 to deal with bedbugs. You won’t likely have time to investigate beds and furniture if you get sick, but rest assured, bedbugs do not carry or spread disease.
Forgo the bargain-hunting and splurge on new goods to avoid bringing home bedbugs. If you just can’t pass up a sale, at least try to stay away from used mattresses, bed frames and headboards. You may save money, but professional treatment for a bedbug infestation can set you back thousands of dollars.