Look out -- there are some prepared kids in town! On Saturday, June 6, 35 children and their families gathered at the Warrior Transition Battalion at Fort Carson to learn from Red Cross volunteers and personnel about how to be prepared for an emergency through The Pillowcase Project. This presentation teaches children coping skills, local concerns (like wildfires) and both personal and family preparedness. The Pillowcase Project was born when the CEO of the American Red Cross Southwest Louisiana Chapter discovered that Loyola University students evacuated for Hurricane Katrina using their pillowcases to carry away what they could.
|Children decorate pillows as part of an activity to teach them disaster|
preparedness. Photo by Dana Goldsmith.
Typically, the Pillowcase Project is offered just for children -- often while their parents attend a separate preparedness training for adults. However, at this event the two groups were kept together, and it was inspiring to see the parents working with their kids to empower them in the event of an emergency.
After talking about what kinds of problems might occur and how to handle them, the children had some time to color their pillowcases. Finally, they went outside for a relay race to demonstrate just how quickly they could escape in the event of a fire. The kids, staying low as you should in a burning building, crawled to the volunteers, used the back of their hands to check the temperature of a "door" (which was actually the volunteer's hand in this game), and then crawled back to their team. Experts estimate that by the time a smoke alarm goes off, a person has two minutes to safely exit a burning building.
After the training, the Battalion had a BBQ. During the BBQ, volunteers were heartened to hear families discussing smoke alarms and how to be brave. "It created conversation, which we love to hear, because we know they will go home and do something about it," said Dana Goldsmith, Prepare Colorado Program Development Specialist.
Many thanks to the staff of the Warrior Transition Battalion for all their assistance with the program. The Battalion is made up of injured soldiers who are transitioning out of the Army. The mission of the Battalion is to assist wounded soldiers and their families in successfully transitioning to civilian life, helping them with everything from geographic relocation to navigating the VA to employment assistance. Also, special thanks to Dena Kamm, who jumped in on her first day as a Red Cross volunteer to get involved.
You can learn more about our Pillowcase Project at http://www.redcross.org/prepare/location/school/preparedness-education/the-pillowcase-project.