The 37 kindergartners from Freedom Elementary School sat attentively as Cookie Monster and Big Bird bantered about what was more important: eating a cookie or dousing the flames in their clothing.
After some persuasion, Cookie Monster agreed that the first thing to do was put out the fire. "Then can I eat my cookie?" he asked.
The cookie had to wait, Big Bird said, until he stopped, dropped and rolled to put out the flames. As Cookie Monster and Big Bird sang the "Stop, Drop and Roll" song, the children rocked to the music. Later, they squealed and giggled as a fish puppet squirted water at them, showing the youngsters how to put cool water on a burn.
Yesterday's puppet show was the first of about a dozen performances that Lt. Christine Flanagan of the Sykesville-Freedom District Fire Department will put on for children this week as part of Fire Prevention Week.
"We've homed in on fire prevention," Flanagan said. "We've done so much with teaching the kids. We've taught so much about fire prevention that it really makes a difference. These kindergartners know things."
Her puppet show showed youngsters how to stop, drop and roll; get low and go; put cool water on a burn; follow exit signs; and have an escape plan.
Flanagan also showed the children how a smoke detector works and how to take care of it. She explained how to call 911, and what happens when it's called unnecessarily.
And she made them practice crawling on their stomachs to get out of a burning building in the "Get Low and Go" tunnel.
The children toured the firehouse, inspected the fire equipment and watched as a teacher donned firefighter's gear.
"I think this is great," said kindergarten teacher Pam Hildenbrand. "It's very thorough, and there's a lot of lessons about fire prevention."
Hildenbrand said the teachers follow up on the firefighters' lessons with activities in the classroom.
This month, the Sykesville department has 22 days of fire prevention activities with elementary schools, day care centers and preschools, Flanagan said.
"I'm very proud of our area," she said. "I feel we're one of the busiest and most active companies in fire prevention."
This year's theme is "It's Fire Prevention Week: Test Your Smoke Alarms." State Fire Marshal William E. Barnard has urged residents to install a smoke alarm on every level of their home, to check them monthly and to change the batteries at least once a year.
The Carroll County Volunteer Emergency Services Association launched Fire Prevention Week on Sunday with the annual county fire prevention queen contest.
Kristi Gable, 20, from the New Windsor Fire & Hose Company, was crowned Miss Carroll County Fire Prevention Queen. Tanya Alexander, 18, from Lineboro Volunteer Fire Company, was first runner-up.
The fire prevention queen promotes fire safety at the schools, in the community and at fire company functions.
The Carroll County commissioners also issued a proclamation for Fire Prevention Week yesterday.
Although Fire Prevention Week is observed the first week of October, fire prevention and safety are year-round efforts, said Scott Campbell, acting director of the Carroll County Office of Public Safety.
Among the programs the office is involved in is a 911 program with Verizon, the county's 911 dispatch telephone vendor. Verizon and several 911 dispatchers visit the county's elementary schools to teach kindergartners how to use 911 to make emergency calls.