How to sleep tight when traveling

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Lois A. Bowers
Lois A. Bowers

When I return from a conference, my luggage may remain in the foyer for a day or two, just in case I brought back any unintended guests — bed bugs — with me. They would be easier to see and deal with on the ceramic tile than on the carpet, my husband and I reason. We inspect my suitcase after each trip, and so far, thankfully, I appear to have been traveling alone.

If you're headed to a major senior living conference this year, you may find a new “best of” cities list of interest. But this is a list that no city wants to be on. It's Orkin's “Top 50 Bed Bug Cities” rankings.

Chicago, where the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care's Fall Conference will be held in September, is No. 3 on the list. That's an improvement, however; last year and for three years prior to that, the Windy City topped the rankings.

Nashville, the setting of the Argentum Conference & Expo in May, comes in at No. 23, down one spot from last year.

Orlando, which will welcome American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living members attending the organizations' Quality Summit in March, is No. 44, down six places on the list from last year.

Las Vegas, site of AHCA/NCAL's annual meeting in October, is No. 49. The city was not part of last year's rankings.

San Diego, site of NIC's Spring Investment Forum in March, and New Orleans, site of LeadingAge's Annual Meeting & Expo beginning in late October, are not on the list for 2017, although the former was No. 37 last year.

You can see the complete list of 50 cities here.

My sharing this list with you is not meant to be a knock on any industry organization. The hotels selected by conference planners generally are the best that a city has to offer. As I learned during my Girl Scout days, however, it's best to “be prepared.”

So what can you do if you're traveling to one of those cities? The pest control company advises using the acronym SLEEP to help with the inspection process:

  • Survey the hotel room for signs of an infestation. Look for black or brown spots on any furniture.
  • Lift and look for bed bugs in common places where they hide: the mattress, box spring, bedskirt and other furniture, as well as behind baseboards, pictures and even torn wallpaper.
  • Elevate luggage away from the bed and wall. The bathroom is the safest place to store it, according to the company.
  • Examine luggage when repacking it at the hotel and upon returning home from a trip.
  • Place all dryer-safe clothing from luggage in the dryer at the highest setting for at least 15 minutes, upon returning home.

And remember, bed bugs don't just take vacations. They also can be found in nursing homes and other residential care settings; single-family homes and apartments; and public places such as movie theaters, public transit, libraries and offices. So look sharp.

Lois A. Bowers is senior editor of McKnight's Senior Living. Contact her at lois.bowers@mcknights.com. Follow her on Twitter at @Lois_Bowers.

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