If a tornado were to occur near 8-year-old Keldrick Davis' home, he knows what he would do to try and stay safe.

"I learned that tornados can destroy your house…so you need to take cover," Davis said.

While 12-year old Zoe Ortiz has a sense of how quickly she should get out of a house, in most cases, in the event of a fire.

"I learned that we have to get out of the house in less than two minutes (in a fire)," Miss Ortiz said.

On Thursday, June 16, these children were part of group of summer campers at the YMCA of Tyler who participated in the Pillowcase Project and learned about different ways to be confident and prepared in the event of an emergency.

The Pillowcase Project is sponsored by Disney and was inspired by the sight of some university students evacuating with their possessions in pillowcases after Hurricane Katrina.

The lesson was provided through a partnership with the Red Cross of East Texas.

Christine Brown, disaster program manager with the Red Cross of East Texas, informed the campers of ways to be prepared in the event of several different emergency situations, such as tornadoes.

"A tornado warning is when a tornado has been spotted," Ms. Brown said. "You want to get to that safety spot as fast as you can."

"Don't try to sit outside and videotape it to show your friends," she added.

The students practiced ways to take cover during a tornado and were instructed to go to windowless rooms in the event that they should encounter one.

They were also taught a breathing technique that could possibly help them relax in emergency situations.

Ms. Brown told students to think of a color that makes them feel relaxed and to think of a color that represents nervousness to them. They were then instructed to breathe in the relaxing color and to exhale the color that represented nervousness.

"Remember those colors that make you feel relaxed and the ones that make you feel nervous so when an emergency happens you're prepared and you stay calm," she said.

After the students demonstrated that they understood the topics that were being discussed, they were given pillowcases that they could personalize and use to create emergency kits.

They were told to not make the bag too heavy but to include items they though they may need, such as water, soap, batteries, a change of clothes and other essentials the could use after an emergency. 

Ms. Brown added that in the event of a fire, children shouldn't put themselves in danger by trying to retrieve the bag.

She also said she hoped that students would take home what they learned and share it  with their parents or guardians, as well as their friends.

While many of the situations discussed could be frightening to some, many of the students' bags reflected that they planned to be prepared in the event of an emergency.

"I'm going to decorate it with hearts, and I put to ‘be prepared,'" Miss Ortiz said. "I'm going to put (in the event of a fire) get out in less than two minutes."









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