As a young child, I absolutely loved camping with my family. There is absolutely nothing in this world more enjoyable than sitting around a campfire with those you love and just enjoying the sounds of nature around you and the crackling of the fire as you roast marshmallows a golden brown.
My dad taught my brother and I at a young age to never leave a campfire unattended, and to always make sure that the fire was completely out before leaving it. To make sure that there were no hot ashes and dying embers left behind.
A campfire can be one of the best parts of camping, or provide necessary warmth to hunters and other outdoor enthusiasts. Unlike many natural disasters, most wildfires are caused by people—and can be prevented by people, too! Right now, a wildfire burning out of control in mountains and foothills east of Los Angeles has forced authorities to order three school districts to cancel classes due to heavy smoke and dangerous conditions.
The time for this message has never been more important than it is right now!
The new “Rise from the Ashes” campaign, created by the Ad Council and NASF, uses wildfire ashes as an artistic medium to illustrate the devastation caused by wildfires and highlight lesser known wildfire starts:
- Improperly extinguished fire pit
- Dumping ashes from a BBQ/grill
- Metal chains hanging from a moving vehicle
- Parking over tall, dry grass
- Dying embers left in a campfire
- Fueling lanterns
- Stoves & Heaters
- Flammable liquids for lanterns and heaters
- Cigarettes and Matches
- Burning yard waste in windy conditions
Millions of wildland acres will burn unintentionally this year. Much of it because most people are unaware of many things that can actually start a wild fire – things that most people would never think of.
Although progress has been made, accidental, human-caused wildfires remain one of the most critical environmental issues affecting the U.S. Smokey’s message is as relevant today as it was in 1944 and he continues to have an incredible impact on our country.
Although most of us don’t behave this way intentionally, each year we learn of devastating wildfires caused by careless behavior which can impact millions of acres of forest and thousands of homes. Although four out of five wildfires are started by people, nature is usually more than happy to help fan the flames.
The time is NOW! “Education is a critical part of reducing the number of unwanted, human-caused wildfires we experience every year,”- U.S. Forest Service Deputy Chief Jim Hubbard.
Please – get the word out and remind your friends and family! If you’re like me, you want to be sure that these beautiful national parks and forests are around for our children and our grandchildren. Share this message, your own camping tips, and fire prevention methods on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #SmokeyBearHug and #OnlyYou! And if you tag @smokey_bear on Twitter – he may just tweet you back!
Remember, it is up to YOU and ME to prevent forest fires!