Tips for a safe and fun backpacking trip

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.


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


Hints from Heloise run occasionally in Lifestyles. Readers may send a hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, Texas 78279-5000, fax it to 210-HELOISE, or email: Heloise@Heloise.com. Letters won’t be answered personally.