Smokey turned 70!

Smokey turned 70!

Smokey the Bear, "born" August 9, 1944 turned 70 this year.

Smokey the Bear, “born” August 9, 1944 turned 70 this year.

Smokey the Bear celebrated 70 years of helping Americans prevent forest fires on August 9th. And his message remains as relevant today as it was in 1944. The message conveyed by this icon: “Only YOU can prevent forest fires!” proved so powerful that is has helped reduce the number of acres lost to forest fires in the country from roughly 22 million in 1944 when the program started to an annual average of approximately 6.7 million today. His original message is still critical, humans remain the number 1 cause of forest fires, so there continues to be room for improvement. Even as Smokey enjoyed his birthday cake wildfire crews are working without reprieve to control fires in the western states.

90% of American adults recognize Smokey the Bear and 70% can even recite his tagline. Educational materials from Smokey are widely available and distributed mostly to students from kindergarten through 5th grade. While many people think that lightening is the primary cause for wildfires, humans still hold that distinction causing fires by not properly containing or putting out campfires, failing to appropriately dispose of ashes from wood stoves or fireplaces and operating hot equipment in dry, grassy areas. So when dealing with fire, remember Smokey’s 8 rules for fire safety:

  1. Never leave your campfire unattended, make sure it is cold to the touch before leaving
  2. Don’t play with matches
  3. Be careful with fireworks, dispose of  expended fireworks in a bucket of water
  4. Use grills, camp stoves and lanterns a safe distance away from flammable materials
  5. Monitor weather and fire conditions; hot, dry and windy conditions increase the risk of causing a wildfire
  6. Put out cigarettes safely
  7. Maintain outdoor equipment and vehicles in good working order; sparks from vehicles or equipment can cause fires
  8. If you see a wild fire, call 9-1-1 immediately