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Helping Children Become Better Prepared for Disasters

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After learning about preparedness, children color pillowcases during The Pillowcase Project at the Red Cross in Princeton. Miss New Jersey Teen Jacqueline Giancola was on hand to help teach children coping skills they can use during an emergency.

We’re preparing children with the knowledge to help keep them safe during times of disaster.

In an effort to help New Jersey families become better prepared for emergencies and disasters, the American Red Cross has free, child-friendly tools and resources to help children learn how to prepare for and respond during a disaster. 

“Preparedness isn’t just for adults,” said Mathieu Nelessen, regional CEO, American Red Cross North Jersey Region. “By educating children about preparedness, we arm them with the knowledge and skills to help keep them safe in the event of an emergency or disaster.”

THE PILLOWCASE PROJECT  More than 20 children learned about fire safety and disaster preparedness during The Pillowcase Project held on November 8 at Red Cross locations in Somerville and Princeton. 


The Pillowcase Project is a free, interactive preparedness program designed for youth ages 8 to 11. The program aims to increase awareness and understanding of natural hazards, teach safety and emotional coping skills, as well as the importance of personal preparedness. Through instructor-led presentations, students learn the best ways to stay safe and how to create their own emergency supply kits by packing essential items in a pillowcase for easy transport during a disaster. 

Miss New Jersey Teen Jacqueline Giancola was on hand in Princeton to help teach children coping skills they can use to manage stress during an emergency situation. Jacqueline demonstrated how breathing exercises can help students remain calm during a disaster. 

Students also had the opportunity to decorate and personalize their pillowcases and share what they learned with friends and family.  

MONSTER GUARD FREE APP  The Red Cross recently launched Monster Guard: Prepare for Emergencies, a free mobile app designed specifically for children. The app is a game to help children ages 7 to 11 learn how to prevent emergencies, such as home fires, and what to do if severe weather or natural disasters occur.

Set in the ‘Monster Guard Academy,’ the young app user is a recruit who trains to prepare for disasters and practice what to do if one happens. Users can role-play as various monster characters, go through the initiation and engage in interactive training episodes for hazards such as home fires, floods and hurricanes. If a player completes all the episodes, he or she will graduate and become a member of the ‘Monster Guard.’

“Monster Guard teaches emergency preparedness while young players are having fun,” said Nelessen. “The game provides an exciting and interactive way for children to learn about preparedness as they direct the monsters to identify fire hazards, practice an escape plan, select items for an emergency kit, and more.”

Monster Guard runs on iOS 7 and 8 and Android OS 4x and up. Download the app by searching for Red Cross in your mobile app store or by going to For a direct link to download the app, text ‘MONSTER’ to 90999. 

The Monster Guard App game is a complement to The Pillowcase Project. The app and The Pillowcase Project are both sponsored by Disney.

DISNEY’S MICKEY AND FRIENDS DISASTER PREPAREDNESS ACTIVITY BOOK  Developed through a joint initiative with Disney, Disney’s Mickey and Friends Disaster Preparedness Activity Book contains information that teaches children and their families how to prepare for and respond to a wide range of disasters and emergencies through puzzles, interactive games and activities. Disney’s Mickey and Friends Disaster Preparedness Activity Book is available for download in English and Spanish.  

For additional emergency preparedness information, including free tools available for individuals and families to help better prepare for disasters and emergencies, visit