In 1950, after crews battled a forest fire in New Mexico, they also rescued a lost bear cub clinging to a charred tree. He had been seriously burned but was fighting to survive. During his months of recovery, the cub—appropriately named Smokey Bear—received numerous gifts, especially honey. During the years that followed, he also received so many letters and cards that the post office gave him his own zip code. His image became the logo for fire prevention, and when he died in 1976, the message of Smokey the Bear lived on.
In recent years, many thousands of acres have been destroyed, numerous homes and businesses burnt to the ground, and lives lost in forest fires in Colorado, New Mexico, California, Wyoming, Idaho and Oregon. Smokey’s message is “Only You Can Prevent Forest Fires,” and authorities estimate that nearly 2/3 could be prevented by humans.
Smokey’s fire safety reminders also extend to home cooking. In America, 16% of home fire deaths and 40% of serious injuries to humans and pets are a result of cooking accidents and carelessness.
Years ago, while my mother was boiling chicken to make dumplings for a church dinner, she was called out to help a neighbor. If you have ever experienced the horrible smoke damage and blackened ceilings caused by burned chicken, then you understand why I offer this public service reminder on her behalf.
As Smokey might also say, “Only You Can Prevent Kitchen Fires.” If you have family or friends who have memory loss or mental confusion, remember that kitchen fires are a very real danger. Take action to protect them.