Kids learn to prep for emergencies through pillowcase project

With slushy snow covering roads in Illinois and Missouri leaving some without power, having an emergency plan is fresh on people’s minds. For kids in Crab Orchard, a simple pillowcase is helping teach kids about preparing for emergencies.

Ask any of the students in Carri Massey’s fourth grade class what to pack in an emergency, and they know what they need.

"Like flashlights or water," saidd 10-year-old fourth-grader Hunter Odle.

But, when an emergency hits, there may not be time to pack. It’s why Kelly Urhahn with the Williamson County Emergency Management team is teaching kids what to do and pack through the Pillowcase Project. Massey’s is the first class to see the program in southern Illinois, but it was started more than 10 years ago by the Red Cross after Hurricane Katrina.

"Some of the college students were carrying the things that were important out in pillow cases, so that’s kind of where it stemmed from," said Urhahn.

The kids in Massey’s class are all decorating their own pillowcases so they know exactly what to pack in case of an emergency.

"It teaches them different coping skills, along with ways to prepare (and) things to put in a kit," Urhahn sai.

The project is fun, but it also teaches the kids to pack important things, like a blanket or a whistle. Hunter says he and his family have never been through a power outage or tornado before, but he says if we won’t be worried if they do now.

"If it did, I’d probably be prepared," Hunter said.

The Williamson County Emergency Management team is planning to expand the Pillowcase Project to more schools this spring. They’re hoping it takes off across the state, teaching more kids to prepare.

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