Southwestern Elementary School third-graders Lauran Rodriguez, left, and Tanner Jacobs design pillowcases Wednesday afternoon as part of the American Red Cross Pillowcase Project, a program focused on family disaster preparedness. Each pillowcase has useful tips for items to include in a basic disaster kit. (Staff photo by Seth Grundhoefer/sgrundhoefer@madisoncourier.com)
Southwestern Elementary School third-graders Lauran Rodriguez, left, and Tanner Jacobs design pillowcases Wednesday afternoon as part of the American Red Cross Pillowcase Project, a program focused on family disaster preparedness. Each pillowcase has useful tips for items to include in a basic disaster kit. (Staff photo by Seth Grundhoefer/sgrundhoefer@madisoncourier.com)
Not many people would think of a pillowcase as something that could save their life, but a national nonprofit group is trying to change that.

The American Red Cross is distributing pillowcases to third-grade classrooms across the country as part of the Pillowcase Project. The new program that was launched this year teaches children what to do in an emergency situation - such as a tornado or a house fire - and gives them a pillowcase to have stuffed with emergency supplies should they ever be needed.

Mary Mour, community resiliency specialist with the Red Cross, spoke to third-graders at Southwestern Elementary School this week telling them what to do in case of an emergency and what to put inside their pillowcase.

"These are all really scary things that can happen," she told Traci Ferguson's classroom Wednesday. "So, today we're going to talk about coping skills."

Mour taught the students to "breathe with color" if they're ever in an emergency to help them relax.

She told students to pick a good color that makes them feel good, and to think about that when they're breathing.

"Breathe in the good color and breathe out the bad air," she said.

Students also were told to put emergency supplies, like a battery-powered radio, flashlight, bottled water and a whistle, into their new pillowcase when they got home.

Mour also made presentations at Madison Consolidated elementary schools earlier this year.

Pillowcases for the nationwide program were donated by the Walt Disney Company.