Going to School With Food Allergies
Here are tips on keeping your child safe during the school year — and all year long:
Now's the time to make a summertime appointment to see your child's allergist. And set up a meeting for the end of the summer with the school principal, the school nurse, and your child's teacher.
At the allergist appointment, discuss and update the food allergy emergency plan, so that you have copies available for the school. Make sure the plan has a current photo of your child and updated contact information for you and the doctor. Check your medicine supply to make sure you have what you need to send to school. Ask the allergist for any prescriptions you need.
Order a medical alert bracelet, which can take several weeks to arrive. In addition to your child's name and type of allergies, consider including that epinephrine should be given in case of a severe reaction and listing your emergency contact number.
At the school meeting, remind everyone that if there is a severe allergic reaction, they should give epinephrine immediately, then call 911. Make plans for different scenarios, such as snack time, lunchtime, classroom parties, and field trips.
- where food will be kept
- where your child will eat
- who will clean the table
- who oversees lunchtime and snack time
- who will be responsible for hand washing
- who will train substitute teachers and special-subject teachers to recognize and treat a reaction
- where epinephrine will be kept and who will be responsible for giving it, if needed
Ask the school to:
- Educate the staff about how kids describe allergic reactions (they may say food tastes spicy, their tongue feels hot, their tongue or mouth feels itchy or funny, or their lips feel tight).
- Discourage food sharing among all children.
- Encourage all kids to wash their hands with soap and water before and after eating (hand sanitizer gels do not get rid of allergens).
- Wipe down lunch tables with a disposable disinfecting wipe rather than a sponge, which could spread allergens. This should be done by an adult, not a child.
- Ask teachers not to use food as rewards in the classroom, and to give you several days' notice of food-related events, including birthday parties.
- Look out for non-food items that could contain allergens, such as materials for art, class projects, or class pets and their food.
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
© 1995-2009 The Nemours Foundation. All rights reserved.
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