The Burn Institute uses puppets to teach fire safety

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Paola Rangel, a community outreach specialist with The Burn Institute, used puppets to teach local children about fire safety Thursday.

IMPERIAL – The Burn Institute gave a free puppet show to raise awareness on fire safety at the Imperial Public Library Thursday. As the puppets engaged children and made them giggle, they also taught them how to avoid fire hazards.

Paola Rangel, the community outreach specialist for The Burn Institute, said she enjoys enacting the puppet shows. Although her typical audience are preschool children, parents also learned as they watched along with their young toddlers and older children.

“This puppet show is to teach children what to do if there is a fire, if someone gets burned, and what to do if the child finds matches or lighters,” said Rangel.

Characters in the puppet show taught the children to “stop, drop, and roll” in case they catch on fire, not to play with stoves, not to play in the kitchen when a parent is not present, and to use cold water on liquid burns.

During the show, Curious Canine, a canine puppet character, burned his paw from playing too close to the stove. His mom poured cool water on his burn.

Mr. Match, a character that resembled a match, taught the children that incendiary devices and lighters are for adults.

After the puppet show, Rangel asked for a volunteer to demonstrate how to stop, drop, and roll. She also gave the children goodie bags that included coloring books of the puppets and fire escape plans.

Rangel explained that while the puppet show mainly is for preschoolers, the Burn Institute offers other Fire Safe Kids programs for children in Kindergarten through third grade.

She also anticipates several more puppet shows during the upcoming month. “October is Fire Prevention Month and I have several more puppet shows that I’ll do, but we often get calls to come and put on the show for daycares and preschools,” she explained.

The Burn Institute strives to help more than just children, according to the agency. They also sponsor a Senior Smoke Alarm Program and a Wildfire Program, as well as Burn Survivor, and Caregiver Support Groups.

Rangel wants to raise more awareness about fire safety to the community children and she encouraged parents to talk to their children about escape plans, fire hazards, and how to prevent accidents. She also encouraged parents to attend the future puppet shows with their kids.

The Burn Institute is a non-profit health agency founded in 1972 with the building of the UC San Diego Regional Burn Center, according to its website. They are dedicated to providing education and raising awareness about fire safety in San Diego and Imperial counties.