With major wildfires in New Mexico, Arizona and elsewhere, new Smokey Bear radio and television public service announcements (PSAs) for the U.S. Forest Service are being aired, just in time for the Fourth of July weekend, notes Grumpy Editor.
The cartoon character Smokey (so named with the debut back in 1944 when the Forest Service spelled smoky as smokey --- perhaps because proofreaders were hard to come by during World War II) attired in forest ranger uniform, doubles as the symbol of conservation/protection of U.S. forests and "spokesperson."
The Forest Service, assisted by the Ad Council, figures people, especially campers, should be reminded to put out campfires and outdoor barbecues --- and use caution with fireworks.
Something new this year is Smokey Bear’s first mobile application.
The free smartphone app is designed to provide critical information about wildfire prevention, including a step-by-step guide to safely building and extinguishing campfires, as well as a map of current wildfires across America.
The real-time wildfire map (now showing locations of three dozen large incidents) and other information are available through Smokey’s Web site: www.smokeybear.com.
Many Americans believe lightning starts most wildfires, says the Forest Service. In fact, the agency points out, nine out of 10 wildfires nationwide, on average, are caused by people.
Principal causes are campfires left unattended, trash burning on windy days, arson, careless discarding of smoking materials or barbecue coals and operating equipment without spark arrestors.