Backpacking Essentials

Dear Heloise: A lot of people will be taking a BACKPACKING TRIP this year, and as a veteran of many backpacking trips over a number of years, I have a few hints for backpackers:

Invest in a good compass, a GPS device designed for outdoor travel and a personal locator beacon. If things go wrong on your trip, you’ll be glad you have these items because they work where a cellphone might not.

∫ ALWAYS pack sunglasses, sunscreen and a hat of some kind to protect your face. Sunburn or snow blindness is a serious problem for backpackers.

∫ Buy a good-quality knife. You’ll use this tool more than you know.

∫ Take a small first-aid kit.

Make certain it has disinfecting ointment, bandages of various sizes, disposable plastic gloves, over-the-counter painkillers and hand sanitizer.

∫ Take a headlamp, lighter and/or matches in a waterproof container.

Believe it or not, these are the things so many backpackers forget to include when they are hiking through the backcountry. — Jacob G., Telluride, Colo.

REPORTING FRAUD

Dear Heloise: How do I report fraud and scams? — Joyce S., Hickory, N.C.

Joyce, here are some places to report fraud and scams:

1. Medicare/Medicaid fraud and related matters: 800-HHS-TIPS, or www.oig.hhs.gov.

2. Mail fraud, lottery/sweepstakes fraud: U.S. Postal Inspection Service, 800-372-8347.

3. Internet fraud and lottery/sweepstakes fraud on the internet: Internet Crime Complaint Center, www.ic3.gov.

4. Consumer fraud and identity theft: Federal Trade Commission, 877-FTC-HELP or 877-ID-THEFT.

If you are confused about where to report frauds or scams, contact the FBI at 202-324-3000 or https://tips.fbi.gov. — Heloise

STINKY ODOR GONE

Dear Heloise: My husband uses a large plastic cooler for food and drinks when he goes fishing. When he gets home, he dumps out the ice and closes the lid, resulting in a terrible smell inside the cooler. I scrub out the cooler with baking soda and vinegar, rinse and let it dry outside with the top opened wide. The smell is gone! — Rebecca F., Naples, Fla.

SWEET SMELL

Dear Heloise: I love it when my linens smell nice, but I’m allergic to most fabric softeners and perfumes. I found that if I place scented votive candles at the back of each shelf in my linen closet, my towels and sheets take on a beautiful scent that lasts for several days when I use my linens. — Dawn P., Port Huron, Mich.

HOUSEWARMING GIFTS

Dear Heloise: My son-in-law and daughter just bought their first home and moved in. It occurred to me that young couples need a lot of practical items, so as housewarming gifts, I usually give one or two of the following: gift certificate to a hardware store, hand cart, wheelbarrow, rake, shovel, hammer, welcome mat or cleaning supplies. These are items they need and often don’t think about, so they make great gifts. — Meghan S., Brookside, Del.

SEND A GREAT HINT TO: Heloise, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001; Fax: 1-210-HELOISE; Email: Heloise@Heloise.com.

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