As the mother of a child with a food allergy, I need to think through special accommodations at times. Her school has an Epi-pen for her, but places like dance class, birthday parties, Sunday school and friends’ houses don’t, so I need to send it along, with instructions on how to use it should there be an accidental exposure. Now that school is winding down for the year, she’ll be involved with various summertime activities, and keeping track of who knows how to manage her allergy becomes a little more complicated.
If you also have a child affected by a food allergy (or similar allergies, such as those to latex or bee stings), you need to think ahead a bit in order to make this summer as safe as possible. Here are a few tips:
- Check the expiration date of the injectable epinephrine that you’ve left with the school all year. Also look at the liquid inside and make sure that it’s still clear. You can use this one as your extra throughout the summer, but be sure to replace it before it expires.
- Consider having a card made up to hand out to those who will be responsible for your child. VistaPrint carries what they call “mommy cards,” which can be customized with your child’s medical information and brief instructions (i.e. “carries epipen for peanut allergy”).
- Depending on the age of your child, use this as a good annual opportunity to review the procedure for using her injection, as well as the signs and symptoms that she needs to do so (or alert an adult that she needs emergency care).
- If necessary, have your child’s pediatrician or allergist fill out a form indicating that your child is or is not able to carry her own injectable device. If she’s going to camp this summer, the organization may require this.
- Call ahead to camps and any other places your child will be without you to let them know you have a child with an allergy.
- If your child is going to summer camp, the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network suggests meeting in advance with the camp director to express your concerns about the food allergy, and to find out what steps are taken to both minimize the risk of accidental exposure and ensure that if it were to occur, your child would be attended to immediately.
- Call ahead and arrive early when dropping your child off at pool parties and other events during the summer, to be sure that you have time to walk the host through the procedure. Calling ahead also gives you a chance to find out what’s being served and to give the host a heads-up.
You’ve successfully navigated sending your food-allergic child to child and to friends’ houses, so preparing for the activities of summer is really no different. Just a bit of preparation can help your child to have a safe, fun summer!