Skip to main content

Murray Journal

Woodstock Elementary Students Learn About Emergency Preparedness

Jan 28, 2016 10:35AM ● By Julie Slama

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

Murray - At the end of a 45-minute introduction to being prepared for a natural disaster, Woodstock Elementary students received a pillowcase to fill with necessary items should an emergency occur.

As part of The Pillowcase Project, American Red Cross educates students about natural disaster preparedness as well as gives them a pillowcase they can fill with items such as water, a blanket, first aid kit, soap, radio, clothes and other items and keep by their bed to grab in an emergency. Each third, fourth and fifth grader also received a workbook to fill out and review in class. 

The free national program has reached about 3,000 students in Utah this past year and is sponsored by Disney.

“We hope they will be better prepared in case of earthquakes and fires and other disasters and go over the kits with their families,” Eric Christoffersen, AmeriCorps member who gave the presentation along with Rebecca Jones, Red Cross individual and community preparedness manager, said.

During the presentation, students answered questions from what is an earthquake and how long does it last to learning and practicing how to protect themselves through, “stop, drop and cover.”

“You want to curl up as small as possible to protect yourself. If there is a desk or something to get under, then go there. Hold on with one hand and protect your neck and head with the other,” Christoffersen said. 

Students also learned what to do if it became scary, such as lights going out or loss of other amenities.

 “How do we deal with a stressful situation during a disaster is something we can practice as well,” Jones said as she had students close their eyes and think of calming colors. “When we’re scared and can’t figure out what’s going on, just breathe deeply. If we can remain positive, we can help our classmates and family. The more we can do ahead of time to prepare, the more we will be ready.”

The workbook further addresses issues such as having a home fire escape plan, emergency communication plan and contacts, a map in case of emergencies and road closures, what to do and who to contact in case of emergencies and more. It also included a household emergency kit, as well as what to include in their pillowcases.

“Photos of your family are a good thing to include in emergency kits because they can provide you comfort to look at them, but you can also show them to the fire department or other emergency workers who can try to locate them,” Christoffersen said. 

“I knew about earthquakes from watching ‘Bill Nye the Science Guy’ and talking about them a little in class,” third-grade student Zavion Long said. “I know we’re prepared in our basement with snacks in case of an earthquake, and I have supplies by my bed.”

His teacher, Colleen Luck, said although the school prepares students for fires, lock downs, stranger dangers and earthquakes, this program is valuable.

“They have to know how to take personal responsibility for themselves and how to calmly think through the situation,” she said. “They need to take the steps and practice them so if a disaster occurs, they will respond automatically. This program empowers them and that knowledge they can share with family and friends to help them.”