On this day, August 9, 1944, Smokey Bear was born; that is, the well-known image was agreed to and an ad campaign was started to prevent forest fires.
During World War II, a Japanese submarine bombed the coast of California, lobbing shells into an oil field close to the Los Padres National Forest. There was a fear that further bombing of the Pacific Coast could start raging forest fires. We have to remember that at that time the majority of the men were off fighting in the war, and communities would be left to their own resources in the event of forest fires. So the ad campaign was launched by the War Advertising Council to bring to the public’s awareness a need to protect the forests and prevent accidental fires.
Smokey’s original words were “Smokey Says — Care Will Prevent 9 out of 10 Forest Fires,” but the slogan was changed three years later to the one we are more familiar with: “Remember…Only YOU can prevent forest fires.” This was more recently modified by changing forest fires to wildfires.
There was a real Smokey Bear, a bear cub orphaned in a large fire in the Capitan Mountains of New Mexico in 1950 and rescued by army soldiers who helped fight the fire. The story caught the attention of the press, and the State Game Warden presented the cub to the Chief of the Forest Service with the agreement that the bear’s publicity would be used to help with fire prevention. Smokey Bear lived at the National Zoo in Washington D.C.
Smokey Bear: The Forest Is Many Things
(You may want to install an ad blocker before viewing.)
The Evolution of Smokey Bear
His changes over the years. From the Ad Council.
USDA Forest Service History
Scroll down for “The Story of Smokey Bear.”
This is Fire
A fact sheet at the Iowa Department of Public Safety on the nature of fire.
Elements of Fire
How fire works at SmokeyBear.com.
Get Out Safely
Fact sheet at FortWorthTexas.gov on fire escape planning.
The role of fire in maintaining the ecosystem at SmokeyBear.com.
Their use in reducing catastrophic wildfire damage at SmokeyBear.com.
Current large wildfire locations.
Dot-to-dot coloring page at SmokeyBear.com.
4-page download at SmokeyBear.com with Smokey’s Story and fire prevention tips.
Sesame Street Fire Safety Station
8-page download from FEMA on fire safety featuring the Sesame Street characters.
Stop Drop Roll Coloring Sheet
From the National Fire Protection Agency
Friends of Smokey Bear Workbook
Very nice 10-page coloring/activity book from the West Virginia Division of Forestry.
Living With Fire
Interactive application from the U.S. Forest Service that let’s you manage a fire in the Ponderosa pine habitat.
Unit Studies & Lesson Plans
Stop, Drop, and Roll!
Unit from Jodie Wolfe that originally appeared in Home School Enrichment magazine covers art, English, science, math, and social studies while learning about fire safety.
Smokey’s Wildfire Prevention Detectives
6-page download aimed middle school students to teach wildfire prevention and fire safety.
Boy Scout merit badge workbook.
Fire Safety Lapbook
Foldables at HomeschoolHelperOnline.com that include book list and coloring sheets.
Printables & Notebooking Pages
Smokey’s Coloring Sheet
From the West Virginia Division of Forestry.
Fire safety poster at SmokeyBear.com.
Smokey Bear Notebooking Pages
Simple pages for copywork, narrations, or wrapping up.