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Smoky the Bear Wants You to be Safe

As we’re coming towards the hottest part of the year, it’s fitting that we address one of the deadliest man-made disasters we face in the US.




In 2018, there were 58,083 reported wildfires, with a total of 8.8 million acres burned. In a 2017 risk analysis, 4.5 million US homes were identified at high or extreme risk of wildfires. Over the past 10 years, losses from wildfires added up to $5.1 billion.


What’s worse? As many as 90% of wildland fires in the US are caused by humans. (The remaining 10% is said to be caused by naturally occurring lightning or lava.)


Statistics from 2019 already state that there have been 16,361 wildfires from January 1 to June 10, with about 355,014 acres burned. That’s just six months of data.


There is good news though. So far, numbers have decreased from 2018 to 2019. In the same six month period (January-June), 2018 saw 1.8 million acres burned vs the 355,014 acres stated above. And 2017 to 2018 saw a similar decreasing trend with 71,499 reported wildfires in 2017 vs 58,083 in 2018. These are still high numbers, but with proper education and care of the land, the National Interagency Fire Center is hopeful they can continue decreasing.


It seems simple: don’t start fires in the summer. Watch your burns. Don’t negligently discard cigarettes. But we’ve compiled a basic list of ways to prevent wildfires from starting, to keep you, your family, and your land safe.


  1. Never leave a fire unattended.
  2. Completely extinguish a fire before sleeping or leaving a campsite.
  3. Avoid spilling flammable liquid and store fuel away from appliances.
  4. Completely extinguish cigarettes before disposing of them.
  5. Do not discard cigarettes, matches, or smoking materials from moving vehicles or anywhere on park grounds.
  6. Follow local ordinances when burning yard waste.
  7. Avoid backyard burns in windy conditions.
  8. Keep matches and lighters out of the reach of children.
  9. Avoid parking a hot car or other machinery in dry grass.
  10. When towing vehicles, make sure all chains are suspended and not dragging while driving.

These tips seem simple, but these above, including purposefully committing arson, account for 90% of wildfires. And they’re easily preventable. So make sure you’re being smart and taking care of our forests and wildlands.