It was looking to be a quiet summer week with many clients out of town when I received a call from a friend that there were little red bites all over her body. If you read any of the NY papers from the Post to the NY Times you know there is no shortage of articles about the spread of bed bugs in NYC. So my first instinct was that perhaps this was the cause of the itchy tiny bumps that were all over her skin.
This was indeed the case, so here is my straightforward To Do List on how to get rid of the bugs in less than 24 hours:
1. Visit a dermatologist if you can: First things first. Confirm with a health care professional that you don't have some other skin irritation or issue. Why take the next steps if you are barking up the wrong tree?
2. Find a trained canine dog: Yup, that's right. There are certified dogs who have attended NESCDA's , National Entomology Scent Canine Detection Association, training program. Go to www.nescda.com to find accredited teams and learn about their training. The dog is trained to sniff out bed bugs. According to an article in NYTimes in 2010, http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/11/garden/11bedbug.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0 , these dogs have a 96% accuracy in finding the pesky bugs. In my friend's case, we found a certified team through a Google search that was able to come out the same day, and did indeed find one tiny area of the mattress (which had been in a reputable storage facility for a year-- go figure!) with bugs,
3. What kills bed bugs? Extreme heat, cold, vacuuming, steam, and chemicals applied by a professional are all ways to kill the bed bugs and their eggs. A great article on bed bug treatments can be found at http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/11/garden/11bedbug.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0 In our case, we had the mattress removed by a company that was bringing it to a landfill and found an exterminator through another Google search who came that same day,
4. Prevention: With the new mattress was the purchase of a zippered mattress cover that has protection specifically for bed bugs. Amazon has a number of good options.
Bed bugs are something none of us want to think about, but since they seem to be vacationing quite a bit in NYC this summer, and if we are vacationers anywhere (as they love to travel as well and can hide in luggage without your knowledge), it makes sense to take some precautions:
1. Empty your luggage carefully and wash everything in hot water, including the luggage if possible,
2. Encase your mattresses with protective covers,
3. When you change your sheets, keep an eye out for telltale signs: Small drops of blood, tiny black specks (their feces).
Remember, bed bugs come out during the night, not the day. So "catching them" isn't that easy but being aware of their potential presence can keep you one step ahead.