- After cooking a meal, fill a pan of water and leave it on the stove/fire, so the water will be warm enough for clean up.
- Hang soap in a stocking or sock from a tree to keep it off the ground and clean.
- Bring two coolers–one for drinks only and the other for food. This will help keep the food cooler from being opened and closed too many times.
- Bring a throw rug or welcome mat to place in front of your tent/camper. Then make sure all campers wipe their feet before they enter. A small broom and dustpan are a must too.
- Always pack duct tape. It’s useful for many things.
- A crumpled ball of foil makes an excellent scouring pad for pots and pans.
- To save time and prep work, create a bin of essential camping items that you can keep packed and ready year-round. Buy an extra set of pots and pans at a garage sale or rummage sale. Make sure the bin is rain and rodent proof.
- While it’s best to cook on coals, sometimes you have to cook directly on open flames. For easier cleaning, rub the outside of your pots with dish soap. Allow it to dry and then cook with them. This will make the black soot come off easier.
- Don’t overpack. Pots and pans can be used as mixing bowls to save room, and heavy duty aluminum foil can be used to cook vegetables and meats on or in the fire.
- To keep marshmallows from burning dip them in water before holding them over the flame.
Tips for Camping and Hiking Safely in the Wild
How to Select a Campsite and Keep it Safe
- Select a campsite before dark. Survey the area, check for animal tracks, strewn garbage and insect nests, before setting up camp. Chose a clearing, on high ground, away from tall grasses.
- When camping in bear country, store food in a cooler in your vehicle instead of in a tent. If you camp often, bear-proof coolers and garbage cans are available. Popular Mechanics put several to the test, using a 450-pound grizzly, and found them to be highly efficient when used with a lock or bolt.
- Do not keep any food in your tent. Bears are attracted to the smell of mint, peppermint, etc. so store your toothpaste in the cooler too.
- Spread a band of garden lime on the ground around your tent and picnic area, to deter snakes and bears. Sprinkle lime on the garbage can lid too.
- Pets should be brought inside the tent or camper at night for their protection and yours.
- When collecting fallen wood for campfires, avoid possible spider or snake bites by kicking the wood over to expose and examine the undersides before touching it. Wear gloves when picking up wood.
- Never leave children unattended.
- Don’t venture out of the campsite on foot or bike, after dark.
Safe Hiking/Mountain Biking Safety Tips
- Always check the weather forecast before hiking or biking long distances.
- Don’t hike after dark. Bears travel and feed at night to avoid people. Snakes, such as the copperhead are especially active at night during hot summer weather.
- Never hike alone. It’s always best to hike with a buddy or in a group, on established trails.
- When hiking with children, position them between two adults. Put a loud, survival whistle around each child’s neck and teach him or her to use it if lost or separated from the group.
- Let the wild animals know you’re coming. Carry a stick and hit the brush or trees to make noise, talk, sing, or play music, etc., when walking or mountain biking on winding trails and when returning to your campsite, to give wildlife an opportunity to retreat before you arrive. This could save your life, especially when grizzly bear sows, and cubs are nearby.
- Keep pets on a leash when hiking to avoid a conflict with wildlife.
- Deter insect bites by tucking the edge of your pant legs into socks or boots. For further protection strap a tick and flea collar around your pant ankles when hiking.
- Don’t eat wild mushrooms, berries or other plants when hiking in the wilderness. If you happen upon a patch of wild berries, keep an eye out for snakes or bear.
- Never discard food scraps or wrappers on the trail.
- Don’t carry or consume any mint flavored candy or gum when hiking, to avoid attracting bear.
- Do not feed wild animals. Birdseed also attracts bear, leave it at home.
- If you find a baby animal in the wild, do not touch it. Bear, or wildcat cubs can have sharp claws or teeth at a young age and injure you. Picking up a wild animal may provoke an attack from a protective mother or predatory animal hunting nearby. If you spot bear cubs, or other predatory animals, leave the area.
- If you come across an animal carcass, leave the area. Predatory animals may be nearby.
- Don’t touch or pick up snakes. Baby venomous snakes contain poisonous venom too.