Why Comfort Items Matter During Emergencies

We forgot Bob! We HAVE to go back!” screamed my 5-year-old self from the rear seat of our family minivan. As far as I was concerned, life could not possibly go on without him. Let me clarify that Bob was not a person, nor a pet, nor a good excuse to backtrack two hours on a two-day road trip to visit my grandparents. Bob was my teddy bear with well-loved fur and unraveling yarn stitches from the time I fixed his “boo boo.” But my parents knew that to me, Bob was family. He went on every trip and endured every move my family made. He was there when I won my first soccer game, lost my first tooth and battled the flu. Needless to say, we went back to get Bob that road trip.

We all have our “Bob” stories and we understand just how precious children’s comfort items can be. These sentimental objects play an important role that far exceeds the monetary value of a pouch of fluff with googly eyes. They offer a sense of security and home that can’t be replicated by any old toy. Therefore, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that at Save the Children, teddy bears and other comfort items are often on the front lines of emergency response. They’re the first on the scene, helping children through recovery. Believe it or not, teddy bears are the heroes of emergencies.

Top 7 Reasons Teddies (and other comfort objects) are Heroes in Emergencies:

  1. First Responders: Whether a tornado, hurricane or fire, teddy bears are first on the scene, providing children with a sense of familiarity and comfort before professional responders can get there.
  2. Small and Portable: They are small and easily transported, traveling with children when families need to evacuate. Teddies can be snuggled extra close when families shelter-in-place because of their size.
  3. Tough: Teddy bears are ready to be pulled, tugged and squeezed. They are perfect for hiding little eyes from frightening sights and covering little ears from loud sirens or storm sounds.
  4. Symbolic: A teddy represents the love and compassion of the person who bestowed it. They become especially important if mommy and daddy aren’t there when the storm rolls in. While children may spend most of the workday with a caregiver, having a teddy available when disaster strikes can help remind them of their parents’ love, and that their parents will be trying to reunite with them as soon as possible.
  5. Huggable: Teddy bears never say no to a hug and physical touch can be healing to a child who’s faced an emergency. They’re soft and fluffy and can help reduce physical stress.
  6. Good listeners: Kids can express their feelings and reactions to teddy bears, and if they aren’t ready to talk about a scary experience, teddy will stick with them through the silence.
  7. Constant Reminder: A teddy bear can remind children of the safety and love they feel with their family. A teddy also can remind kids of happy and fun times before the emergency and help them recall how they’ve overcome other challenges with teddy at their side.

REMEMBER: During an emergency, you should never risk your own safety to retrieve your child’s comfort item. Instead, plan ahead and have teddy easily accessible in your child’s backpack or kept in your family’s disaster supply kit.

What comfort objects should you put in your disaster supply kit? In addition to teddy bears, comfort items may include:

  • Stuffed animal
  • Figurines
  • Photos
  • Favorite book
  • Blanket
  • Favorite jacket or clothing
  • Favorite toy
  • Keepsake (something from someone special)

 

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