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Bed Bug Holiday

This time of the year, thousands of people are traveling to visit their families for the holidays. But if you're dealing with a bed bug problem, is it safe to visit them? What if a family member has bed bugs? Should you let them stay with you or even just step in the door for dinner?

Every family has their awkward moments during get togethers, but throw bed bugs into the mix and it can make it even more uncomfortable. What do you do if one of your relatives tells you that they had to have treatments for bed bugs but they think it's safe now and they plan on coming over to visit? It's natural to feel nervous at the idea. There are a few factors to consider before deciding what to do.

Find out how long ago they started treatment. When was the last time they saw a live bug? If they've only had one treatment and they saw a bug last week, they carry more risk than if they've had 3 treatments a month ago. If 6 weeks have passed since any sightings or bites and they've had multiple treatments, they should be in the clear. However, it wouldn't be unreasonable to ask them to please take precautions before coming over such as changing into clean heat treated clothes and using a temporary plastic bag or bin to carry their stuff rather than luggage. If they have to use luggage, they should at least inspect it carefully and wipe it down well. As long as they've had at least one treatment and are willing to take these precautions (more details here), I'd be willing to let them come over. I've had to open up my home to a family member during an active infestation even before they received their first treatment. My condition was that they had to change their clothes upon arriving and I threw them immediately in the dryer. It's not a fun conversation to have but they understood and we both felt more comfortable afterward. The important thing to remember is to do your best not to make them feel unwanted and be sensitive to how embarrassing it would be to be in their situation. At the same time, you've got to protect your household and they hopefully will be glad to support that.

There are also things you can do to protect your home and reduce your risk. No matter who is visiting, there is always a chance that they could bring in unwanted guests. They may not even realize it themselves if they picked up a bug while traveling. For example, mattress covers and interceptor traps are a must for a guest bedroom. (See other suggestions for Protecting Your Home).

And what if it's YOUR home that is fighting bed bugs? Well, if it's been less than 6 weeks since you've seen any activity or you haven't finished your treatments, and you were going to host visitors, then you should move the party to someone else's home. You don't want to risk exposing your loved ones to this pest. You don't need to announce to the world why you have to adjust plans but you should adjust them. If it's been longer than that period, then you consider going forward. The longer time that has passed, the less the risk.

If you are visiting someone else's home while you are fighting bed bugs, be sure to take those same precautions that we mentioned above. It's important to be honest with them and explain the measures you are taking to keep them safe and let them decide if they are comfortable with you coming over. After 6 weeks of no signs, you shouldn't need to declare to the world that you had an infestation anymore. Congratulations, you've been cleansed from contamination.

If this article has shown us anything, it's that having bed bugs sucks (no pun intended). But don't isolate yourself completely. Spending time with your family and friends is one of the key things we need to keep our sanity while going through this battle. Just be careful and considerate of each other.

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