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Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Happy Birthday Smokey Bear

Smokey Bear is turning 70 August 9. A funny PSA celebrating his birthday can be found on Smokey’s website. Check it out. I grew up with Smokey Bear as a constant in the background of my life. Smokey visited my grade school regularly talking to the kids about how each of us could help prevent forest fires. And I believed him with all of my heart. 

My family spent a lot of time outdoors hiking and camping. I was always reminding my parents (who didn’t really need reminding) about fire safety. I can’t even count the number of times per trip I would say “Only you can prevent forest fires, Dad.” “Remember Mom, you can prevent forest fires.” My parents would just smile and agree with me, knowing that an important lesson was being ingrained in my brain.
Some of you may be thinking that I am using the wrong slogan. But I’m not… at least not back then. When I was growing up, the slogan was Only You Can Prevent Forest Fires. In 2001, it was updated to what it is today, Only You Can Prevent Wildfires.

Smokey’s message stuck in my head and I am very careful when I do use fire. All kids should learn about Smokey Bear and his message so they can help to protect our forests. If your children don’t know about Smokey, introduce them. Smokey’s website has a great section for kids with many fun activities.
Generations of children have grown up receiving Smokey’s message, but each year countless wildfires are started by humans, many of them due to campfires not being extinguished properly. Fires are also started by burning debris, equipment sparking, and other incidents. Many tips can be found on how to prevent wildfires on Smokey Bear’s site.

Another great campaign is the United States Forest Service’s One Less Spark Campaign. The Arizona Department of Transportation has created a One Less Spark educational video.
Oak Fire Burnout, June 2014
Photo By: USFS
Wildfires burn thousands of acres in Arizona each year, causing injury to people and damaging property and the environment. Arizona’s hot, dry climate is perfect for wildfires and we are in the midst of the season when fires spread across our state. While we continue to be at risk, it is greatly diminished due to the monsoons. Traditionally, most large fires start in June.  AzEIN has many tips on how to be prepared for a potential wildfire and what to do if one occurs near you.

Visit Arizona’s Interagency Wildfire Prevention site for more news, prevention tips and fire restrictions.

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