Are bedbugs really endemic on Long Island?
February 2, 2015 8:37 AM   Subscribe

My fear-driven sister has told me that bedbugs are inevitable in hotels on Long Island. I have a family commitment tomorrow and it would be most convenient to stay in a hotel in Medford. Am I asking for it by staying there?

I am in Virginia for a month, staying with my mom while she recuperates from surgery. Sadly, my uncle passed away this weekend, and since I'm already out east I plan to head up to Long Island for his wake. With bad weather and possibly poor roads, I'm trying to stay close to the train station. When I mentioned this to my sister the other day, she was adamant I not stay at a hotel. Her firm is restrictive about the places where employees can stay in the city (where there is a well documented bedbug issue), but I find it hard to believe that she's an expert on the pest issues of hotels near the east end of the island. She also says the bedbug registries aren't maintained and shouldn't be trusted. (i'm totally making her out to sound like a birther... sorry about that)

I've checked orbitz/kayak/expedia/trip advisor and this hotel has no known issues. I've also checked with a friend in the hospitality industry who says her company uses a bedbug registry regularly and religiously and does trust its veracity.

What do you think? Am I putting myself (and my mom's place) in danger by staying at a hotel?
posted by ovenmitt to Travel & Transportation around Medford, NY (10 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
It's a problem, but I'm not sure it's as universal as she thinks. Have you tried looking up the hotel at a bedbug registry? This one, for instance? Sure they can be crowd-sourced and unreliable but at least if it DID have something about bugs being at your hotel you'd know and could make plans. Or if your hospitality friend trusts her registry so much ask her to look up your hotel for you?
posted by Wretch729 at 8:42 AM on February 2, 2015

Best answer: I think bedbugs can strike anywhere. I'd suggest that it's more important to know how to run a bed-bug check and maintain proper isolation protocol on your belongings than it is to find some sort of authoritative source confirming a place is bedbug-free -- because really, that changes too fast to be sure. (Also you can get them on the train, so, you know.)

I've always run bedbug registry info searches before staying anywhere. About 8 years ago I stayed at a hotel in NYC -- kind of crappy, but no bedbugs reported, and I followed my usual room-search and laundry protocols. A short time later, someone sued the hotel for disfiguring bedbug bites. So yeah, it makes more sense to know how to search for signs of a major infestation (and request a room far away from the original room if you find one) while you are at the hotel and being careful when bringing your belongings home than it does to trust a registry to keep you safe.
posted by pie ninja at 8:49 AM on February 2, 2015 [3 favorites]

Best answer: I doubt every room in every hotel is infested with bed bugs. There are You Tubes and articles about how to inspect for the critters, so do that before you go in.

I find that Trip Advisor is good for reading reviews, folks would NOT be shy about mentioning them in a review.

Your sister can be concerned, but there's no reason to go nutso.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:51 AM on February 2, 2015 [2 favorites]

Best answer: The formatting on this is kind of stupid, but the EPA provides a printable card that you can take with you with pictures of bedbugs and tips for places to check in your hotel room and how to manage your belongings.
posted by amarynth at 8:52 AM on February 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: It also depends on how careful you're willing to be. [On preview, this is just a process I made up, and I see there's an official protocol linked above.] If you were concerned, you could leave the suitcase in the car, assume the clothes you wear in the hotel room are "contaminated," bring them home in a plastic bag, and launder and dry them on super-hot. (So, you know, don't enter the hotel room wearing your wool sweater and silk scarf.) Shower just before you leave, and have brought in one set of clothing that you laid near the bathtub when you arrived (i.e., not on the bed) to wear on your way out. Don't leave your shoes near the bed; leave them some distance from everything.

Checking the bed for bed bugs is a 15-30 minute process, a major workout, and a way to learn more than you want to know about the cleanliness of any hotel room and the state of their matress. (A real search, I believe, involves looking behind the headboards and examining both sides of the mattress. Removing and replacing the headboard, and flipping the mattress, are hard to do alone.) I personally have started giving the mattress a very half hearted look, to make sure there's nothing egregious, but relying more on the "assume the place is infested" routine.
posted by salvia at 9:10 AM on February 2, 2015

I would think that you'd be fine, but as a possible alternative, maybe you could find a place through Airbnb. No guarantee that it's safer, though if it's a room in someone's home you'd think they might be more aware if they have bedbugs or not...just a thought.
posted by three_red_balloons at 9:20 AM on February 2, 2015

Just don't have your luggage touching the bed. Don't lay your suitcase on the bed, don't lean anything up against the bed.

Bed bugs are killed by heat. If you have a bedbug on you, it's going to die as soon as you spend any time in the sun or a heated room. If bedbugs are on your clothes, they will no longer be on your clothes after you run them through the dryer. (And if you're really concerned about clothes you wash with cold water and don't put into the dryer, you can easily kill any bed bugs that might be on the item by blasting it with a hairdryer.)

The big risk of bed bugs is if you encourage them to crawl into your luggage (much harder to get bed bugs out of a suitcase than out something you're actually wearing). So just keep your luggage away from the bed and you're fine.
posted by Sara C. at 9:24 AM on February 2, 2015

Best answer: Just don't have your luggage touching the bed. Don't lay your suitcase on the bed, don't lean anything up against the bed.

It's a misconception that bedbugs only live in beds. They're just as likely to live in baseboards and go out looking for food at night.

If you're worried, keep your luggage in the bathtub. When you get home, run all your clothes through the dryer and maybe spray your luggage with Raid.

(I've worked in backpacker hostels. I've had more bedbug bites than I'd care to admit, but they're never followed me around)
posted by no regrets, coyote at 9:39 AM on February 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: If you have a bedbug on you, it's going to die as soon as you spend any time in the sun or a heated room

This is incorrect:
Raising the indoor temperature with the thermostat or space heaters won’t do the job. Special equipment and very high temperatures are necessary for successful heat treatment. Black plastic bags in the sun might work to kill bed bugs in luggage or small items, if the contents become hot enough. Bed bugs die when their body temperatures reaches 45°C (113°F). To kill bed bugs with heat, the room or container must be even hotter to ensure sustained heat reaches the bugs no matter where they are hiding
posted by yoink at 9:40 AM on February 2, 2015 [7 favorites]

Response by poster: Thank you, everyone!

I am grateful for the resources to help me search them out once I arrive. Pie Ninja, I very kindly intimated to my sister that 4 hours on Amtrak and LIRR will probably expose me to worse things than bedbugs. It didn't matter - it was the hotel that would be the culprit.

Most of all, thank you for alleviating my main concern - that I had no choice but to haul a new community back to my mom's place.
posted by ovenmitt at 4:02 PM on February 2, 2015

« Older Shotgun Wedding Videographers in Brooklyn?   |   seeking a pair of casual men's shoes. must be all... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.