Camping is a way of life for many families, and we know that statistically more and more people are turning to the outdoors to escape their crowded and hectic city life. Because of this new found, or resurgent exodus to the great wild there’s an increasing burden being placed on both resources to manage and care for these wildlife areas, and also to serve and protect campers and hikers not from the wildlife, but from themselves.The numbers don’t lie… more people are injured while camping or hiking due to their own mistakes or lack of planning and preparation than injuries sustained from wildlife. While Ranger Stations and Park Officers do train and serve to protect families from the dangers of animals (like bears, mountain lions and alligators), most of their call volume comes from lost hikers or ill prepared campers.But you can help reduce the likelihood that you or your family becomes lost or injured while outdoors by taking some basic steps to prepare. Preparation begins with a proper camping checklist and also ensuring that your gear is camp ready. For example, I’ve heard many people tell me that their tent was bad because it leaked, when in reality you are “supposed” to seam seal your tent every year or two, depending on use. Since I’ve been sealing my tents I’ve not had a single leak or drip in weeks and weeks of camping and backpacking outings.One of the things I urge campers to do is start with a good checklist and then add the items that you will need for your specific vacation. If you plan on fishing then have one section just for that, and in it include fishing poles, extra line, lures, bait, and of course the fishing license. If you’re buying a license there, locate ahead of time where you plan to get it. Do the same for all activities. If you plan day hikes ensure that you include backpacks, water containers, purification systems, rain gear, etc…By starting your preparation off with a good camping checklist you give your self and your family the best chance for an injury and worry free vacation. I’m sure we’ve all had the experience of getting to camp, setting up the tent and then realizing that someone left their sleeping bag, or after a heavy rain that you forgot an extra pair of shoes. A good checklist will ensure that you have all the food, snacks and clothes you need, in addition to the life safety things like first aid kit, maps, compass and medications.And be certain to leave your trip details (all routes, trails and camp sites clearly marked) with friends and family. I always prepare an itinerary for my family and I take the added steps of giving them a map with our travel routes and the address and phone numbers of nearby Police and Park Ranger stations so they can contact me in an emergency. There are a lot of resources on the web you can turn to in order to begin your own camping checklist, but the real important thing is to just do it.Remember that according to Camp Safe, “On average, there are over 30,000 injuries treated in emergency rooms each year, and doctors treat an additional 75,000 camping-related injuries per year. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, there were 79 fatalities from camping incidents in the year 2000, the latest year for which data is available.” Don’t let yourself or someone you love be one of those numbers… preparation and planning are crucial.