More than 100 parents and children attended the Mooresville Public Library's "Meet the Firefighters" event Sept. 29.
Firefighters David Conrad, Travis Glover, Ronnie Lytle and Justin Christie from Mooresville Fire and Rescue Station 1, on Main Street, taught youngsters important aspects of fire safety.
The library's Youth Services outreach associate, Crystal Steele, booked the firefighters' appearance as part of the library's efforts to "collaborate with the community and educate our youngest patrons," said Nancy Handy, head of Youth Services.
The firefighters began by showing children how a smoke alarm sounds and explaining what to do when an alarm goes off. A young volunteer demonstrated, crawling below smoke-level to an exit.
Another volunteer acted out the "stop, drop and roll" lesson for when a person's clothing catches fire.
The firefighters instructed the youngsters to always find an adult if they find matches or a lighter, rather than handling those items themselves. They also warned children never to re-enter a building that is on fire to get anything.
Lytle said the most important lessons to teach children about fire safety and emergency situations are dialing 911 and how to stop, drop and roll if they're on fire. He recalled an incident in which a 4-year-old girl who had attended a fire safety presentation saved her grandmother's life by dialing 911 after the woman lost consciousness because of a diabetic emergency.
Next, Glover put on a full firefighting suit. He explained its various parts to the audience, such as the oxygen tank and mask that allow him to breathe "for about the length of one cartoon."
The firefighters explained the importance of not hiding from a firefighter, even if the protective suit looks a little scary. Glover walked around the audience in full gear to show everyone how the equipment works that is used to find people in a burning building.
The crowd was then treated to a visit and hugs from Sparky, the Dalmatian-costumed mascot of the fire department. After Sparky left, everyone was invited to explore the fire truck and take pictures with the firefighters. Conrad and Christie helped children climb in and out of the truck and handed out firefighter-badge stickers to their young fans.
"Meet the Firefighters" is just one example of the many opportunities offered by the library's Youth Services. The seven department employees run a full schedule of programs for children of all ages.
Handy, who's also children's librarian, has been working in libraries since 1998, earning her master of library science degree in 2001.
"Public libraries are vital to healthy communities," said Handy. "Parents should look to libraries not only as a place for their children to do homework, but a place to spend quality time with their child.
"When young children come to the library for story times or play groups, they associate the library with having fun," said Handy. "Librarians who help to develop a love of reading in children are encouraging the emergent literacy skills they will need to become lifelong readers."
Children's programs range from story times and play times to more specialized activities. For example, in "Science Seekers," second- through sixth-graders participate in fun experiments. "Trash to Treasure" teaches children in kindergarten through fifth grade how to turn recyclables into valuable items.
The fall schedule includes special seasonal events such as pumpkin crafts, a costume parade, scary-story writing, Native American crafts, reindeer and gingerbread stories and activities, and origami ornament-making.
Youth Services is planning another schedule of programs and events for January through May 2012. The spring schedule will be available in December. The department also plans a summer schedule.
Many of the programs require advance registration. To register or for information, call Youth Services at 704-663-1807 or visit www.mooresvillelibrary.org.