Advice for Children with Allergies
If you are a parent with a child who suffers from moderate to severe food allergies, sending a special lunch to school is often the best preventative measure to ensure your child’s safety. Not only can you plan a meal that is healthy but also closely monitor what your child is eating to avoid reactions to other foods that may contain allergens. If a child has a significant risk of anaphylaxis, it is the first line of defence.
However carefully you monitor what your child eats there is always the concern that they will come into contact with allergens outside the home, and the highest risk of that occurring is during the school day. While teachers and lunch supervisors do their best to adhere to allergy precautions, there is a chance that your child’s lunch may become misplaced or mixed up with someone else. And while that is a minor inconvenience for most children, for a child with severe food allergies it can be life threatening.
What steps can parents take to further reduce the risk of severe allergic reaction to food during the school day? There are a number of ways in fact to help ensure your child avoids unknown foods as well as ways to help educate your child to understand why they need to be careful.
Develop an Allergy Plan
The first step is to ensure that your school is both aware of food allergies as well as equipped and trained to cope with a reaction should one occur. Most schools have their own standard allergy plans which are forms that are filled out by the parent to detail the allergens, severity and physician information. A comprehensive allergy plan will also include medications that should be administered immediately, and instructions on dosages in an emergency situation.
Do not assume that the school has a reliable procedure for dealing with a critical allergic reaction but inquire about their procedure as well as staff who are trained onsite to respond with first aid care and their specific protocols. As a parent it will give you peace of mind to know that there is an action plan ready to take effect should the need arise.
Tip: Before any offsite excursion such as a class trip, check in with the teacher and supervisors to ensure that the Allergy Plan for your child (and emergency medications) will also travel offsite and help protect your child against any health issues.
Wearing a Medical Alert
Sometimes it is not enough to ensure that the people around your child are prepared to manage a severe allergic reaction. What if your child is alone in a public place such as a rest room when they encounter an emergency situation? While anaphylaxis is a less common reaction, when it does happen it requires immediate response. Have your child wear a medical alert bracelet or necklace. It can save their life by reducing response time.
Tip: Choose a medical alert method that suits your child. Some parents find that a medical alert necklace is far more effective for children who may not mind wearing it around their neck rather than having a bracelet on. Educate your child to show the medical alert item to an adult in the event that they start to feel poorly, and teach them the warning signs and symptoms of an allergic reaction. If the child is old enough, have your doctor or nurse train them on self-administering a portable dose of epinephrine.
Food allergies and insect stings are the most prominent contributing triggers to severe cases of anaphylaxis in children. The number of emergency situations that arise from allergies is higher in young children before they learn how to avoid the sources and allergens, which is why educating the child as well as care providers is so important.
Children should know:
• Their specific allergy triggers and what they can and cannot eat
• To refuse food from anyone (including adults) and avoid eating foods they are uncertain about
• The symptoms of anaphylaxis
• How to ask for help quickly when symptoms are noted
Labelling Packed Lunches
When sending food to school it is very important to ensure that not only is your child’s name clearly labeled on all their food items but also that there is a specific food allergy. You can make it very easy for teachers and supervisors to remember that the child has a specific health need on a daily basis by creating brightly coloured and visible labels on their foods, beverages and snacks.
We felt that it was important to design some labels that were not only effective at creating an alert regarding food allergies but also a design that was fun. While it’s very important to educate children about their health concerns we also don’t want to scare or make them feel embarrassed about their food items. Our design is friendly, fun and visible.
The Fab & Funky Allergy Labels remain fastened through dishwasher, steriliser and microwave use and can be applied to lunchboxes, containers and beverage bottles. The labels are 50mm x 20mm in size and are £19.95 for a package of 40 peel-and-stick labels. Delivery of orders for labels takes about five business days.
Temporary bracelets are also available and ideal for school trips or other events. Our Fab & Funky Wristbands feature waterproof medical paper that you can customise easily online to include allergy information as well as your child’s name and emergency contact number. The Fab & Funky Wristbands retail for £8.95 per pack of 17.