Always cook, eat and clean cooking utensils at least 100 feet away from your camp area.
Only light fires--if permitted by the local rules--in fire rings, either provided for you or constructed by you. Always fully extinguish a fire before departing.
Camping tents catch fire if exposed to open flames; pitch tents at least 5 or 10 feet from your fire, depending on the size of the fire and wind conditions. Never use a camp stove inside a tent, as this might present an asphyxiation hazard.
Always scout the area to be sure you won't be caught by high river, lake or sea water in case of tide or flooding. Never set up camp in the middle of animal trails; this might lead to unexpected encounters.
If you get lost, try to backtrack to your last known position. If you can't do that, stay put and make yourself easy to find by blowing a whistle or using a signal mirror.
Always store food away from your camp--preferably 100 feet or more--either strung up high in a tree or stored in a bear-safe canister. This helps reduce unintended animal encounters.
Article Written By Marie Mulrooney
Marie Mulrooney has written professionally since 2001. Her diverse background includes numerous outdoor pursuits, personal training and linguistics. She studied mathematics and contributes regularly to various online publications. Mulrooney's print publication credits include national magazines, poetry awards and long-lived columns about local outdoor adventures.