Watch the above video to see but one of the places bed bugs hide. This video was taken by an actual client of Attorney Chris Johnston and has been posted here with permission. WARNING: CONTAINS GRAPHIC LANGUAGE!
It seems that a few years ago you couldn’t read a newspaper or turn on the news without hearing that some top tier hotel was fighting a bed bug infestation. Unfortunately, the bed bug stories that got media attention were but the tip of the iceberg.
The true number of bed bug infestations at hotels, motels, and resorts that went, and continue to be, unreported will never be known but any seasoned hospitality professional knows that bed bugs continue to be a problem in their industry.
Bed bug bites can cause welts and severe itching not to mention the thought that you had bugs crawling on you while you slept. Additionally, if you are unlucky enough to transport a bug or two back to your home, the cost to eliminate them can be extremely high. Even if the bugs never make it back to your home, you may incur costs simply ridding your clothes and luggage of these bugs.
If you have been bitten by bed bugs in a hotel or while travelling, contact us today at 515-493-4878 for a free consultation. Our bed bug lawyers have successfully represented many clients who have been the victims of bed bugs at some of the biggest name hotels in the country.
Why Do Hotels Have Bed Bugs?
To be fair, apartment buildings and single family homes, statistically, have a higher incidence of bed bug infestations than do hotels but the general public isn’t generally made aware of those types of problems.
That is to say, a story about bed bugs in a hotel in which guests are paying hundreds of dollars per night to stay makes a much more compelling story. However, hotels continue to rank extremely high on the list for places bed bugs turn up.
That all said, there are a few factors that drive the bed bug problem in hotels:
• Bed bugs can unknowingly be brought into a hotel by one or many guests. Due to the nature of the hotel business, travelers from near and far, who may have bed bugs in or on their luggage, simply carry the bugs with them from one property to the next. Having bugs brought in in this manner makes it challenging for even the cleanest of hotels to remain free of bed bugs. That said, with proper inspections and cleaning, bed bug bites can be kept to a minimum.
• Poor or careless housekeeping allows the bugs to not only live on in hotel rooms but actually thrive. Some hotels have bed bug inspections as part of the daily routine of the housekeepers while other do not. Having daily inspections will not prevent bed bugs from appearing in hotel rooms but inspections can dramatically reduce the number of bugs and guest bites if action is taken as soon as a bed bug is spotted.
• A casual attitude about bed bugs by upper management eventually works it way down through the entire staff. If the hotel staff doesn’t care whether or not the hotel has a bed bug problem, the hotel will have a bed bug problem!
How Can I Protect Myself From Bed Bugs In Hotels?
There are a few simple steps you can take while traveling that will help cut down your risk of being exposed to bed bugs:
• Choose a reputable hotel when making a reservation. Although a five star hotel can get bed bugs as easily as a mom and pop motel, premiere hotels tend to place a higher priority on housekeeping than many lower quality properties do. Choosing a name brand hotel will likely lessen your chances of bed bug bites.
• Upon arriving at your hotel, leave your luggage with the front desk or bellman while you go inspect your room. While this suggestion might seem like overkill, if your room does indeed have bed bugs, bed bugs can find their way into your luggage in no time. If you must take your luggage to your room, put it in the bathroom while you do your inspection. Bed bugs like the dark and concealed areas of your bed and tend to avoid tile and brightly lit bathrooms.
• Check your bed…then check it again! When inspecting a bed for bugs, pull all the linens back so the entire mattress is exposed. Then look for small blood spots or small black dots. These marks are often telltale signs that bed bugs may be present. The bugs themselves resemble an apple seed. Don’t just focus your inspection on the center of the mattress but roll back the piping along the edge of the mattress where the top meets the sides. This somewhat hidden crevice is a favorite hiding spot for bed bugs. Be sure you also inspect the headboard as well as the mattress.
• Inspect the rest of the room! Just because your bed appears bug free does not mean that your room is as well. Check the areas surrounding the bed such as the nightstands, under the lamps and phone, the lampshades themselves, and anywhere else you can see. Most bed bugs are found within about twenty feet of the bed itself but it is a best practice to inspect the entire room. A few minutes of inspection can save days of inconvenience and thousands of dollars.
• If you do find what you believe to be evidence of bed bugs – change rooms AND floors. Changing rooms seems somewhat obvious but changing floors may not be. Bed bugs migrate and if your room is (or was) infested, it is likely that the other rooms on your floor are as well. Additionally, it is also quite possible that the floors above and below you are infested as well so moving a minimum of two floors away from your original room is good practice.
• Keep your luggage safe during your stay. If your room is equipped with a luggage stand – use it. If not, put your suitcase on a hard counter-top or the like. Keep in mind, anywhere a bed bug might like to be is a bad spot for your belongings. You might be thinking, “Wait a minute, I just inspected my room and I didn’t find anything! Why should I keep my luggage protected”? The reason is that although your room might be free of bed bugs upon arrival, bed bugs move from room to room and place to place so an area that is bug free one night might not be the next.
There are many other precautions you can take to help prevent becoming the victim of bed bugs. A simple internet search will provide you with hours of reading.
What If I Am Bit By Bed Bugs In A Hotel?
If you are bitten, seek proper medical attention and TAKE PICTURES. Take pictures not only of your bites but of the bed, the linen, the headboard, and anywhere else you discover bed bug evidence.
The pictures you take will often be the best evidence available when our personal injury lawyers present your bed bug case. As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words.
You should also notify the hotel staff immediately. Many hotels have a protocol in place for helping guests who have been bitten by bed bugs. The types of protocols are as varied as the number of hotels there are but, at an absolute minimum, insist on a new room which is two or more floors away from your current room.
You will then want to work with the hotel staff to arrange having all of your belongings cleaned PRIOR to heading home. If your things are not properly cleaned and all the bed bugs killed, they will come with you to your next destination and your problem will continue to worsen.
This post is not intended to be all inclusive nor an exhaustive listing of all the bed bug issues you can encounter. If you want to learn more about bed bugs, the United States Environmental Protection Agency is a great place to continue your research.
If you have been the victim of bed bugs while staying at hotel, motel, or resort, contact one of our personal injury lawyers today for a free consultation. We can be reached at 515-493-4878.