COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Texas A&M Forest Service encourages Texans to celebrate Smokey Bear’s 79th birthday today by being extremely cautious with all outdoor activities that create heat or sparks.
As a national icon and the longest-running public service campaign in the United States, Smokey Bear has been teaching millions of people how to prevent wildfires since 1944.
“With increased wildfire activity across Texas, Smokey Bear’s wildfire prevention message proves to be just as important now as it was 79 years ago,” said Karen Stafford, Texas A&M Forest Service Prevention Program Coordinator.
Across the nation, approximately nine out of 10 wildfires are human-caused. In Texas last year, 96 percent of all reported wildfires were started by humans and their activities – completely preventable.
“The most common causes of wildfires during the summer are debris burning and equipment use,” said Stafford. “This includes parking in dry grass and dragging trailer chains.”
Smokey Bear recommends some tried and true practices to help prevent wildfires this summer:
- Always check with local officials for burn bans and other outdoor burning restrictions. Pay attention to local guidelines regarding open fires, campfires and outdoor activities that may pose a fire hazard. For burn ban information, visit https://tfsweb.tamu.edu/TexasBurnBans/.
- Park in designated spaces and avoid driving over and/or parking on dry grass. The heat from a vehicle can easily ignite the grass.
- When using a cooking fire or campfire, never leave it unattended. Always make sure it is completely out by drowning it with water, stirring it and feeling to ensure it is out cold before leaving.
- When pulling a trailer, ensure the chains are properly connected and do not drag on the road as this can create sparks.
- If you witness suspicious behavior or signs of arson, immediately call the local authorities.
- Stay wildfire aware. If a wildfire is spotted, immediately contact local authorities. A quick response can help save lives and property. Remember, only you can prevent wildfires.
For more information about summer wildfire prevention, visit https://tfsweb.tamu.edu/summerwildfires/.
In preparation for Smokey Bear’s 80th birthday celebration in 2024, Texas A&M Forest Service has launched a poster contest for Texas students in kindergarten through 12th grade. For information and contest rules, visit https://tfsweb.tamu.edu/SmokeyPosterContest/. All contest entries must be received or postmarked by Sept. 15, 2023, for consideration.