The holiday season is fast approaching! With many people traveling and visiting new places during this time, it's important to understand how to check for bed bugs and prevent them from coming home with you.
Regardless of what type of lodging you choose–hotel, motel, cabin, or other type of rental–no place is immune to bed bug introductions or infestations. Follow these tips for a bed bug-free holiday.
When settling into your room
- Before putting your luggage down on the bed, couch, or floor, do a quick bed bug check. You can either leave the luggage in the hall or place it in the bathtub, where bed bugs are not likely to be.
- Thoroughly inspect the bed, nightstand, upholstered furniture, and closets. You can use a flashlight or a phone light to help you look for bed bugs, shed skins, or fecal spots. Look along mattress seams, under covers, around the box spring, behind headboards and picture frames, and along baseboards.
- Watch this video to learn how to do a bed bug inspection: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oWCc3Mngo7E&t=2s
After you return home
- Before bringing luggage inside your home, inspect it for any signs of bed bugs that may have hitched a ride. Store luggage away from the bedroom to prevent potential introductions.
- Launder all the clothes from your trip on the hottest settings to kill bed bugs or their eggs that may have gone unnoticed. For items that cannot be washed, freezing them for several days will also kill all stages of bed bugs.
- Author: Lauren Fordyce
Did you know that disinfectants and sterilizers are pesticides? Any substance that claims to kill, destroy, prevent, or repel a pest, including germs, is considered a pesticide. So cleaning products that claim to sterilize or kill germs on surfaces or be effective against bacteria like E. coli or others, must be registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The EPA ensures pesticide products are effective and do not pose unreasonable risks to consumers when used according to the label, among other things. Recently, the EPA settled a lawsuit against Grocery Outlet Inc. for selling unregistered cleaning products claiming to be disinfectants and sterilizers. To know whether a product is a registered pesticide, look for the EPA registration number on the label. As with any pesticide product, always read and follow the label so the product can be used as safely and effectively as possible.
UC IPM is committed to educating the public on pesticides and their alternatives. View some of UC IPM's resources about antimicrobial pesticides and pesticide safety below, as well as in-depth resources from the U.S. EPA.
- What You Need to Know About Disinfectant Wipes (blog post)
- Using Disinfectants and Sanitizers Safely (blog post)
- Disinfectants are pesticides–so use safely! (blog post)
- What to Wear When Using Pesticides (blog post)
- EPA Registered Disinfectants (webpage)
- About Pesticide Registration (webpage)
- Using Disinfectants and Wipes Safely (webinar)
- What is a Pesticide? (video)
- Why do you need to read the pesticide label? (video)
- Author: Yana Valachovic, UC Cooperative Extension Advisor
A wildfire shockwave recently hit California. Maybe you missed it. While there were no large wildfires threatening homes, and the air wasn't thick with smoke like in the Northeast from the wildfires in Canada, a shockwave did hit.
State Farm, California's largest home insurance company, issued an emergency declaration. As I write this, I note that my homeowner's policy is with State Farm, and while this may not affect me today, it could affect me when I choose to sell my home or buy a new one.
State Farm announced they will stop issuing new home insurance policies. Allstate issued a similar policy last year. These actions, in essence, shrink the available pool of insurers in California and are a very troubling sign for all of us. Furthermore, this action may significantly lengthen the time it takes to sell or buy a home in California or may affect our long-term ability to sell in the future and capture the financial values we have in our properties.
The loss of over 43,000 structures to wildfire over the last 10 years has not gone unnoticed by the insurance industry. Increasing fire hazards and skyrocketing costs to rebuild has everyone on notice that business-as-usual is not working.
California's policymakers and the Insurance Commissioner have their hands full with structuring the insurance market, creating a market that manages risk and attracts a diversified pool of insurance carriers, stabilizing insurance availability and affordability, and supporting the real estate sector of California's economy.
As a member of the state's Risk Modeling Workgroup, I can tell you that many approaches are being debated to address our challenges, including 1) allowing reinsurance calculations to be a part of insurance rates, 2) finding other ways to fund the Fair Plan (California's insurance plan of last resort), and 3) allowing catastrophe models to forecast risk in order to better anticipate future losses. With the passage of Proposition 103 in 1988, rate setting has been driven by past claims experience. Most suggest that future losses are likely to be significantly worse than past losses.
On July 13, the California Insurance Commissioner will hold a public hearing on whether rates should utilize catastrophe models that can account for anticipated climate changes and risk mitigation actions taken by property owners. Further, the state's Risk Modeling Workgroup will issue a report on this topic later this summer.
While these approaches are nuanced and complicated to understand, there are many actions that property owners can take to protect the value of their properties and mitigate risks.
Given this period of insurance instability, the best action property owners can take is to understand and mitigate wildfire risks. Reducing fuels, improving defensible space, and hardening the exterior of their structures to heat, flame and ember exposures will help to entice insurance companies to underwrite your property, enhance the ability to sell the property, and improve the odds of the building surviving future wildfires. By marketing the value of these actions, just like the remodeled kitchen or other property upgrades that attract homebuyers, you can market your asset to future insurance companies and buyers. Proactive actions, like upgrading vents, are a key part of the solution.
AB 38 (2019) started this process by mandating that the seller of a property disclose to the future buyer defensible space actions that have occurred for properties in Very High and High Fire Hazard Severity Zones. In 2025, these disclosures need to include home hardening actions based on an established low-cost retrofit list. Over time, these actions are likely going to become key for the negotiation of price and potentially the closure of the sale.
Independent assessment of preventive actions may also be helpful. The Safer From Wildfires program was established in 2023 to help promote insurance discounts for the voluntary adoption of wildfire mitigation actions; in my opinion, it could be used as an insurability assessment as well. Another option is to consider the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety's Wildfire Prepared Home designation. Helping your community think through the issues and take collective action to meet a Firewise designation is another approach to consider.
More information about home hardening and defensible space can be found at UC Cooperative Extension's Fire website. And if you need help navigating a recent insurance cancellation, United Policyholders, a consumer rights advocacy organization, has helpful resources.
Wildfire adaptation will not occur overnight, but I believe we have a pathway and clear evidence to demonstrate that these types of specific actions will help all of us live successfully with wildfire in California now and into the future.
- Author: David Alamillo
Through Wednesday, California is expecting rounds of heavy rain, mountain snow, high winds, with potential for flooding, downed trees/debris and power outages. Please stay safe.
If you live near a river, levee or area prone to flooding, gather your essentials so you'll be ready to evacuate at a moment's notice. You'll have some peace of mind if you have gathered items in advance to be away from your home if evacuation orders are given by authorities. Also, prepare for power outages by having electronic devices charged, vehicles fueled, and the ability to prepare food and stay warm.
This is a good time to review your procedures for preparedness, such as the ability to stay informed and to be able to communicate. See Safety Note #203 for winter storm preparedness tips.
Click here to view the Cal-OES weather threat briefing.
A Safety Note series in the category of “Disaster/Emergency Information” is available at https://safety.ucanr.edu/Safety_Notes/- recommended are notes #166-169, #189 and #203.
For current weather alert information, Cal/OSHA recommends the NOAA Weather Alerts page at http://alerts.weather.gov/cap/ca.php?x=1.
Environmental Health & Safety Specialist
Power has been restored to the 2nd Street Building in Davis and it is fully operational. If you are planning to work at the ANR Building, you may do so.
2nd Street is closed currently to all traffic for a section of road west of our office, between L St and Cantrill Drive. It is not known how long this closure will remain in effect. However, the ANR Building is accessible from 2nd Street from the east (coming from the Mace Blvd exit off I-80) and from Pena Drive.
Rainy conditions are predicted to continue throughout the week, but hopefully we have gotten through the worst of it.
Stay safe and dry and follow these winter storm preparedness tips: https://ucanr.edu/sites/safety/files/378115.pdf.
Director, Risk & Safety Services