Bed bugs. Not many things scare me like bed bugs. I have such a phobia about these fairly harmless creatures that it borders on obsession.

It didn’t help when my librarian friend told me that her library had to close for a bit because there was evidence of bed bug activity in a newly returned collection of Dean Koontz books. Even books can spread bed bugs?! I knew bed bug infestations have been on the rise lately, but this is just ridiculous.  According to Vox.com, in 2009, there were “11,000 reported complaints in New York City alone.”

With the holidays fast approaching, a lot of us are going to be traveling. Whether you’re staying in the fanciest of hotels or at Cousin Carl’s, you are at risk. And, I hate to say it, but no matter how clean you keep your house you are still susceptible to bed bugs.

Since I don’t want any of us bringing something special home, besides Grandma’s hand knitted sweater, here are a few tips to stay bed bug free this holiday season:

1) When staying at a hotel, it is best to keep your luggage in the bathtub until you have had a chance to thoroughly search the room. Cntraveler.com suggests that you pull back the sheets and take a good look. You are looking for “small black dots that resemble ground pepper.” If you find these, you are looking at the…uh…leavings of bed bugs. Get your bag out of the tub and head on down the road.

2) After you’ve examined the room (and, hopefully, didn’t find anything), you are not out of the woods. Bed bugs don’t fly, but they can crawl into the tightest of places. Also, they don’t like a lot of activity, so they could have been hiding during your initial investigation. Even though you might not have found anything, Pestworld.org suggests that you store your suitcase “in a plastic trash bag or protective cover” for your entire stay.

3) So, you succeeded in not letting the bed bugs bite during your holiday getaway! Good for you. However, you still might not be safe. Pestworld.org says that you should “vacuum your suitcase thoroughly” before throwing it up in the attic. Also, if possible, you should steam your luggage, “which will kill any bed bugs or eggs.” Finally, wash all the clothes you took with you in hot water. Bed bugs don’t like the heat.

Family holiday obligations can be stressful, but now at least you don’t have to worry about taking some new and bloodthirsty friends home!

Bourke Accounting doesn’t have bed bugs. Trust me, I would be out that door faster than you could say “Terminix.” However, if you find that you ended up bringing the little buggers home this year, you’re going to need some help. The average cost of bed bug extermination, according to Homeguide.com, is between $1,000 and $2,000! Our Bourke Accounting associates won’t show up at your house in a hazmat suit, but they can help you with your household budget and your tax preparation. You can use that tax refund to banish the critters forever.

Come see us any time. Our number is 502-451-8773 and don’t forget to visit our website at www.bourkeaccounting.com. See you soon!

Written by Sue H.