1 minute read

Safer with Smokey Bear

Flat Smokey project helps teach kids about wildfire prevention

With all the challenges associated with the pandemic, like most of us Smokey Bear also has been hibernating over the last year.

Many of the in-person fire prevention events where the public typically would encounter Smokey Bear have been canceled or moved to a virtual setting. But getting Smokey’s message to the forefront of people’s minds is still an important role of the fire prevention program in the DNR’s Division of Forestry.

Despite the extended nature of COVID-19, the public has been eager to get outside and visit Wisconsin’s beautiful state parks and forests. That’s understandable, of course, since sitting around a cozy campfire, roasting marshmallows with family and friends, creates memories that can last a lifetime.

Now more than ever, it’s important for the DNR to find opportunities to teach people — especially future generations — about protecting our natural resources from unwanted human-caused wildfires. Educating children about wildfires may be one of the best ways to help prevent them.

Over 98% of all wildfires in Wisconsin are caused by people! The good news is most of these can be prevented.

To create awareness for Smokey Bear and his fire prevention message at a time with no in-person interaction, the DNR has worked in partnership with Dale Hubert’s Flat Stanley Project to adopt a Flat Smokey concept. A pullout page is included in this magazine.

Families are urged to do a short fire safety activity with children and grown-ups to discuss the differences between good fires and bad fires. Then kids can color and cut out Smokey Bear, taking Flat Smokey with them on outdoor adventures.

Snap a picture with Flat Smokey while practicing fire prevention and safety with family and friends. And post photos of all your activities with Smokey on social media, using #FlatSmokeyWI.

For readers of any age, Flat Smokey also makes a great bookmark. As you continue to get outside and enjoy the outdoors, remember what Smokey always says: “Only you can prevent wildfires!”

U.S. FOREST SERVICE
Children can color and cut out Flat Smokey, then take photos with him while practicing fire prevention and safety.
Catherine Koele