Preparedness in a Pillowcase

Milestone reached for the Pillowcase Project

One million elementary school students across the country have now learned how to prepare themselves, their households and their communities for emergencies by participating in The Pillowcase Project. More than 11,000 of those children live in Northeast Ohio.

 

Originally created in New Orleans, The Pillowcase Project is a free program inspired by the story of local university students carrying their belongings in pillowcases during Hurricane Katrina evacuations. During the presentation, participants receive a pillowcase to decorate and then take home to use as a personal emergency supplies kit.

The curriculum, targeted at 3rd to 5th graders, is structured by a Learn, Practice, Share framework. Students learn about the science of a locally relevant hazard and how to best prepare for it. They practice what to do if a disaster occurs and how to cope with related fear and stress. Afterwards, they share the information and skills they have learned with their family and friends so everyone in the household knows what to do.

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John Gareis, Regional Preparedness Manager was assisted by AmeriCorps worker Rachel Steiner at a Pillowcase Project presentation at the Cleveland VA Medical Center                                         Photo Credit: Jim McIntyre/American Red Cross

“It’s exciting to see young people in Northeast Ohio and across the country learn how to prepare themselves, their households, and their communities for emergencies and save lives by participating in The Pillowcase Project,” said John Gareis, Regional Preparedness Manager.

To date, 11 lives have been saved by four students who put into practice what they learned through the program. Last year, 9-year-old Camryn Sarnie of Ramona, Oklahoma was startled awake at 3:00 a.m. by a smoke alarm sounding in his home. The sound scared Camryn, but he recognized it and knew that it was alerting him to a fire. He knew that he had less than two minutes to escape, so he quickly woke up his parents, alerted them to the fire and instructed them to evacuate immediately. Camryn saved three lives that morning, including his own, by putting into practice what he learned just a few weeks earlier from The Pillowcase Project presentation at his school. According to Camryn’s mother, Lora, “Camryn told us all about what he learned in class after the presentation. Camryn is a true hero.”

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The Red Cross has engaged more than 35,000 volunteers and partnered with more than 13,000 schools, community organizations and partners to deliver this program to students across the country and at more than a dozen U.S. military stations abroad. The Walt Disney Company is the founding sponsor of the program.

Contact John Gareis at 216-431-3219 to schedule a Pillowcase Project presentation for your school, or email john.gareis@redcross.org. .  Additional information about The Pillowcase Project is available at redcross.org/pillowcase.

Magics Learn Disaster Safety

Hurricane Season begins June 1.

And while that usually (usually!) isn’t a major factor when planning for Northeast Ohio weather, we do have plenty of disasters that we need to be aware of and plan for, here in NEO.

To that end, the Red Cross continues to help children in our communities learn about disasters that can (and do!) happen in NEO through our Pillowcase Project.

Nearly 300 students at Barberton Elementary School West had the opportunity to learn more about home fire safety and winter weather safety when kids from third to fifth grade participated in the program in February.

The volunteer team leading the education portion included members of the Advancement to Nursing program, high school students from Barberton and the surrounding communities.

To learn more about how to host the Pillowcase Program at your school, click here.

Prevent and Alleviate: Providing Fire Safety Education to Everyone

You may think that preventing and alleviating human suffering in the face of emergencies – the two actions our mission charges us to do – is a tall order.

With over 4.5 million residents to educate and assist, it can be a little overwhelming.

And yet, when eating an elephant – take one bite at a time.

The first bite: teaching our young community members more about how to keep themselves (and their families) safe before, during and following a disaster.

We are proud to announce that we have hit our annual goal by teaching the pillowcase project, sponsored by Disney, to 2,892 local school-aged children!

The pillowcase project teaches kids about disasters that can happen here in Northeast Ohio, and what they and their families can do to prepare for and respond during an event. Home fire education is the most prevalent piece of this program, as we respond to an average of three home fires across Northeast Ohio each night.

During the program kids are taught about smoke alarms, what to do when a smoke alarm sounds, knowing exit strategies for each room, creating a family meeting spot and so much more.

But this education isn’t just for the children of our community.

We are dedicated to sharing these safety tips with everyone. That’s the second bite of the elephant.

Through Operation Save-A-Life we are helping families learn more about fire safety as well as providing the tools necessary to put that education into practice, should the time come.

As of March, 2016, we have installed over 8,844 smoke alarms in homes throughout Northeast Ohio.

That’s just 1,156 off from the stretch goal we gave ourselves in June, 2015. Our region currently leads the nation in number of smoke alarms installed.

We are very proud of what we have accomplished. And our dedicated work and planning is paying off. We see it in the success stories of families like this one from last summer, and this one from December.

Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts, to the Red Cross workforce who made those numbers happen. Thank you to those who continue to educate, install and provide hope to families and individuals in each of the communities that we serve.

You can eat an elephant – one bite at a time.

Thank you!!

The Pillowcase Project Presented To North Ridgeville Students

Fifth Graders Learn About Preparing and Coping With Potential Emergencies

Students at Wilcox Elementary school in North Ridgeville are now better prepared for potential disasters, thanks to American Red Cross volunteer Alice Martinez and The Pillowcase Project.

Alice teaches students in grades 3, 4 and 5 about hazards they may encounter in Northeast Ohio, and how to prepare for and cope with emergencies.  As part of the class, students are given sturdy pillowcases, provided by Disney, which they decorate and take home.  The students are instructed to fill those pillowcases with supplies they may need to take with them should they be forced to leave their homes in a hurry.

The Pillowcase Project was inspired by college students in New Orleans in 2005.  As hurricane Katrina approached, many students were seen leaving their dorms with pillowcases slung over their shoulders.  They were carrying whatever they could fit into those pillowcases.

The instructions are tailored for the region where they are taught.  With winter weather approaching, the children at Wilcox elementary were reminded of the potential dangers posed by extreme winter weather conditions, as well as tornadoes, flooding and home fires.

On Monday, October 19, a news crew from WKYC Channel 3 recorded The Pillowcase Project Presentation in the fifth grade classroom of Mrs. Pam Ventimiglia.  Senior Health Correspondent Monica Robins interviewed some of the student about what they learned, and a videographer recorded them decorating their pillowcases.  You can see Monica’s report here.

Photo credit: Jim McIntyre/American Red Cross

The program is part of the Red Cross Home Fire Preparedness Campaign.  It began in Cleveland as Operation Save-A-Life in 1992, following a spate of deadly home fires.  The goal of the national campaign is to reduce the number of deaths caused by home fires by 25% over a five-year period.

The Red Cross has also designed youth app, called Monster Guard: Prepare for Emergencies, based on The Pillowcase Project and was also sponsored by Disney as part of this program.

Preparing the Community (And the Volunteer Jobs that go with it)

By: Debra, Regional Volunteer Specialist

September is Preparedness Month and throughout Northeast Ohio the Red Cross is asking that individuals, families, and businesses to be Red Cross Ready.  Red Crossers know that preparedness begins with them; by taking a few simple preparedness steps they help save themselves and their family when an emergency strikes and are taking action to bolster their resilience should the unthinkable happen.  From July 2014 through June 2015 the Red Cross of Northeast Ohio responded to 967 incidents across 22 counties, providing comfort and hope to those affected.

Red Cross volunteers expand on this promotion for preparedness through their actions of volunteering;  passionately sharing resource information with members of their community, to help change behavior and reduce the risk of injury and loss due to an emergency. 

Three years ago The Pillowcase Project was implemented in Red Cross regions nationwide. The program, which was developed after Hurricane Katerina and through support from Disney, focuses on reaching young students (3rd-5th grade) and sharing preparedness resources and resiliency techniques.  Volunteer Pillowcase Project Instructors complete a training course that hones their preparedness knowledge and presentation skills and readies them to conduct classroom instruction and interactive activities in schools, summer camps, youth programs and after-school settings.  The program empowers students to act as advocates for disaster preparedness in their homes and communities, as well as teaches them how to use coping skills to help manage stress during emergencies and in everyday situations.

Community Disaster Education (CDE) Presenters continue to encourage adult community members, organizations and agencies by promoting and conducting public speaking and/or booth support on how to prevent and prepared for emergencies. Preparing the nearly 4.5 million residents Northeast Ohio home is no small feat, but Red Cross volunteers participate in many community outreach events across our area, helping to educate over 75,000 individuals annually.

If you are interested in volunteering to prepare your community in either of these capacities, please visit our website: www.redcross.org/neo and click on Volunteer on the left side of the screen. You will be dropped directly into the application process. You may also call 216-431-3328 or email, NEOvolunteer@redcross.org.

Remembering Hurricane Katrina

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Ten years ago, the costliest natural disaster in the history of the United States, Hurricane Katrina barreled its way onto land, causing devastation from Florida to Texas.  And the Red Cross launched the largest disaster response in its 134 year history, involving more than 245,000 disaster workers and volunteers who helped millions of people with shelter, food and funds to help them get back on their feet.

John Gareis and Tony Rivera of the Northeast Ohio Region of the Red Cross were among the relief workers dispatched to the hurricane-affected region.  They were featured this week in a story about the 10th anniversary of hurricane Katrina, aired by WKYC channel 3.

As noted in the story, the Red Cross established the Safe and Well website to let family and friends know you’re OK after a disaster.  And to help children be better prepared for future disasters, the Pillowcase Project was launched.  It teaches students in third, fourth and fifth grades how to create a disaster kit by packing essential items into a pillowcase for swift escape and easy transport in the face of emergencies.

If you are a registered volunteer who has taken the Disaster Services Overview course and are interested in presenting a Pillowcase Project to children, please call John Gareis at 216-431-3219 or email him at John.Gareis@redcross.org.  If you are not a volunteer yet, log onto redcross.org/volunteer to get started.

And as we note the tenth anniversary of hurricane Katrina, millions of people in Florida and along the Gulf Coast are breathing a bit easier, as all tropical storm warnings and watches were dropped following the weakening of what once was tropical storm Erika.  But it serves as a reminder that this is peak season for hurricanes, and the Red Cross is ready to assist, whenever and wherever needed.

Red Cross partners with TeamSmile at Progressive Field Event

On July 15, the American Red Cross of Northeast Ohio partnered with TeamSmile to present the Pillowcase Project to nearly 300 children. The event, organized by TeamSmile, featured a group of local dentists, hygienists and educators who volunteered their time and talents to provide free dental care to underserved children during the one-day event at Progressive Field.

The children were moved through stations that included a preliminary exam, x-rays, cleaning and other work deemed necessary. While waiting for their turn in a dentistry chair, each child had the opportunity to learn more about being prepared for a disaster through the Red Cross Pillowcase Project.

“The ability to partner with TeamSmile presented the perfect opportunity to give back to our community by teaching the children who participated in the program how to be prepared for an emergency,” said Steve Trisler, Regional Disaster Officer for Northeast Ohio.

The Red Cross Pillowcase Project, sponsored by Disney, is a preparedness initiative created for children ages 7 to 11. It teaches the basics of how to stay safe during an emergency, what to have in an emergency kit and how to cope during an emergency. The program is fully customizable to the region; in Northeast Ohio the Red Cross teaches children about home fire safety, tornado safety, flooding safety and winter weather safety. At the end of the course each child is given a pillowcase and the opportunity to illustrate their own emergency kit needs.

TeamSmile is the nation’s premier oral health advocacy group. They partner with sports organizations across the nation to promote the message that oral health care is vitally important to long-term health.

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