One of the mantras that all off-road enthusiasts live or should live by is the adage to "leave no trace."
You probably understand this to mean you need to bring your trash home with you, do everything you can to preserve the environment, and leave it the way you found it.
Yet there's one more detail to this idea and it concerns toxic waste.
You're set to hit the trails and counting on having a great day; however, things happen, hoses leak, and parts break.
You could unintentionally end up leaking some of the toxic chemicals that keep your Jeep going, leaving a mess behind you.
Whether it's engine oil, brake fluid, coolant that is especially poisonous to animals, or anything else, you need to clean it up properly so you leave no trace and no risk of environmental damage.
Prepare for An Environmental Cleanup
Like everything else in off-roading, preparation is the key.
Since it's possible for any vehicle to leak a chemical, carry the supplies needed to clean up a spill with you at all times.
The easiest way to carry what you'll need with you is to bring a small plastic container or bucket and pack it with essential cleanup supplies.
Fill this container with paper towels, rags, oil spill wipes, plastic trash bags, some kitty litter or other granular absorbent material like Oil Dri, a plastic cup or two, latex gloves, and a small shovel.
With these supplies, you'll be prepared to deal with most spills that could originate from your Jeep.
Contain the Spill
When you notice a leak or spill, the first thing to do is attempt to contain it to prevent chemicals from spreading all over.
Put your container under the leak to catch escaping fluid if possible and use the cups to scoop up any standing fluid on the ground.
Dam up the spill if necessary using absorbent material or by building little dams out of dirt to surround the leak.
Clean Up the Spill
Once you've scooped up as much as you can, soak up the rest with paper towels and/or oil spill wipes, then spread the kitty litter or Oil Dri over the spot.
Granular absorbent materials will soak up whatever the paper towels don't; as you are soaking up the mess, put all the waste in the trash bag.
Clean the spot until you have gotten all of the spill up and the ground is clean.
Protect your hands with gloves to keep the chemicals off your skin.
Carry Contaminated Materials Out With You
After cleaning the spill as best you can, pack the trash bag filled with contaminated materials into the bin and then securely in the back of your Jeep to haul it out with you.
Be especially careful when traveling with these materials in your vehicle as the fumes from certain chemicals could be toxic.
Secure it well so it can't spill over while you're driving.
Dispose of Contaminated Materials Properly
The last part of an off-road cleanup effort is to properly dispose of your contaminated waste.
Avoid throwing this waste in your trash can at home.
Find out where you can safely dispose of it in your community so your effort to keep the trail environment clean was not in vain.
Be Prepared For Toxic Spills When You Off-Road
To ensure you and everyone else enjoying this activity continue to have access to those areas, it's essential that everyone respects and preserves them.
Never leave any waste, including toxic waste from your vehicle, behind on the trail.
Go prepared to do a chemical spill cleanup and do your part to maintain the environment that allows you to enjoy off-roading to its fullest!