Students turn pillowcases into 72-hour emergency kits

Photo that shows two students holding pillowcases and receiving an emergency blanket from a paramedic.

Chris Baum, a paramedic with Guelph-Wellington Paramedic Service, hands out emergency blankets to Grade 4 students Victoria Kang, left, and Isabelle Ozga. The students from École élémentaire L’Odyssée were taking part in Emergency Preparedness Day on May 2 and collecting items for their 72-hour emergency kit.

Guelph, Ont., May 25, 2018 – For a second year, elementary students in grades 3 to 5 took part in The Pillowcase Project—an interactive educational program that teaches children about safety, emotional coping skills, and personal emergency preparedness.

“The Pillowcase Project is a fun and engaging way to get kids involved in preparing for an emergency,” says Dave Elloway, the City of Guelph’s community emergency management coordinator.

This program, developed by the American Red Cross, teaches students to create their own 72-hour emergency supply kit by packing essential survival items in a pillowcase. Such items include: water, a first-aid kit, blanket, flashlight, batteries, spare clothes, and a toothbrush, and a special comfort item such as a stuffed animal. This makes an easy to grab and go kit for an emergency.

This year, 280 students from nine schools participated in The Pillowcase Project, and on May 2 tested their knowledge about being emergency ready at the City’s annual Emergency Preparedness Day at the West End Community Centre.

At the event, the students spent time visiting the display booths of community organizations that assist residents during an emergency, and shared their thoughts on emergency preparedness.

“It was great to hear the students explain how to prepare for an emergency and we encourage them to continue those conversations at home with family and friends,” says Elloway.

Saffron Hodgson, a grades 4 and 5 teacher at École élémentaire L’Odyssée, says her students were both curious and intrigued when asked to participate in The Pillowcase Project. She describes the project has a hands-on approach to Emergency Preparedness Day.

“My students were motivated, more inquisitive and engaged in the process; asking questions and wanting to learn as much as they could during their visit, and making sure to make time for every station to collect items for their 72-hour emergency kit.”

Hodgson adds, “The Pillowcase Project initiative encourages students to think about what it means to take part in their community in a time of distress and to consider what’s most important in an emergency situation.”

In 2017, Elloway, in partnership with the Canadian Red Cross, introduced The Pillowcase Project to Guelph. In its first year, 100 students went through the program.

Elloway says he expects the number of participating students and schools will continue to increase. “Our goal is to have all students in grades 3 to 5 in Guelph involved in this program at least once.”

Although The Pillowcase Project is geared toward elementary students, anyone can make a 72-hour emergency kit at home.

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Media contact

Dave Elloway
Deputy Chief, Guelph Fire Department
Manager, Administration and Emergency Preparedness
Community Emergency Management Coordinator
City of Guelph
519-822-1260 extension 2127
[email protected]