Joanna Madison brought many important lessons to the Girl Scouts who attended a recent Pillowcase Project session at the American Red Cross Gold Country office in Sacramento. But perhaps most important of all was this:
“Nothing in this world is more valuable than you.”
The Pillowcase Project, sponsored by Disney, is a preparedness education program for grades 3 – 5 that teaches students about personal and family preparedness, safety skills, local hazards, and basic emergency coping skills. Upon completion, students decorate a sturdy pillowcase which they can fill with personal emergency supplies.
With messages like “Turn around. Don’t drown,” and “Get low and go,” Madison cautioned her young students not to let curiosity get in the way of safety. These easy-to-remember phrases, combined with information about what to put in a preparedness kit and how to handle feelings in an emergency, can make coping with a disaster a little less stressful for 8- to 11-year-olds.
Haley Cantu, one of the Girl Scouts who attended the session, learned how important it is to practice a two-minute fire evacuation plan and stay informed. “You should do what an officer tells you to do if there is an emergency,” she said.
Haley’s sister Veronica took home some important safety tips, too. “If there is a flood don’t walk in it,” she said. “Or if there is a fire, find the nearest exit, either by a window or back door, and don’t wait to grab anything—just get out quick.”
Their mother, Jessica, said she will be assembling a backpack with emergency supplies like a flashlight, batteries, money, water, some food or snacks, band aids, and medication. Another takeaway for her: “Keeping that pillow case under the bed, ready to grab with things that you need—maybe a brush tooth brush, or change of clothes,” she said. “Simple stuff to get you by.”
Madison and other Pillowcase Project presenters have provided this valuable safety training to 374 students through the Gold Country Region since July 2016. Their goal is to reach 2500 students by June of next year.