As freeing as it feels to sleep in the great outdoors overnight, you cannot afford to ignore your vulnerability. From protecting the safety of your food to protecting the safety of yourself, here’s how to secure your campsite at night.
Pack all your food into a cooler and put it inside your vehicle. This includes “leftovers” even if you do not plan on eating them again. Animals will be attracted to any food left out over night, even if it’s in a trash bag. If you plan on hiking to your camping spot, bring a cooler with a lock, tie a rope around it and suspend it from a tree.
Make sure there is no food in your tent that could attract animals to you during the night. This includes toothpaste, as bears love the smell of mint.
Wash all the dishes before going to bed. Empty the dish water as far away from your campsite (and the campsites of others) as possible then pour clean water on top to mask the smell.
Close all trash bags and tie them up in a tree. Of course, if you’re on campgrounds with a dumpster, dispose of it there before going to bed.
Make sure all your propane tanks are turned off. Just because you don’t see a flame, and you “know” you turned it off doesn’t mean the gas isn’t escaping, creating the potential for a fire hazard. Strategically secure fabric softener sheets around the perimeter of your campsite - animals hate the smell. Just be sure to retrieve them before you leave so as not to leave any litter behind.
Extinguish the campfire completely. Douse it with water, dirt or sand. Never assume it will be fine, or go out on its own.
Double-check the stakes on your tent. This is especially important if you’re camping in an area with high winds, like on the beach or the side of a mountain.
If you haven’t already, make note of who your neighbours are. You may want to introduce yourself and offer to keep a watchful eye on their campsite if they’ll do the same for you.
Lock your vehicle and keep the keys next to you inside the tent. If there’s an emergency, you won’t have to spend precious moments searching for them. And if you have a panic button on your keys, and your vehicle is close by, it could be your saving grace in scaring an intruder out of your campsite or tent.
Keep a flashlight close by. If you hear a noise during the night, it’s a great way of scaring off intruders - animals and people alike.