Managing Food Allergies at School
Now that your child has been diagnosed with a food allergy, a vital step in the prevention and management of your child’s allergy is, how do I ensure my child is safe from allergens when at school or day care? How do I as a parent help managing food allergies at school or child care? While just the thought of what might happen is cause for anxiety, rest assured that schools and day care centres have qualified and trained staff, action plans in the event that an accidental exposure has occurred, as well as prevention measures in place.
First things first, talk with your child’s doctor to create an action plan tailored to suit your child’s needs. This action plan will include vital information in regards to the emergency treatment(s) your child will need in the event of a reaction. This information will include: Medication required, a photo of your child, epinephrine pen (Epipen/Anapen), doses, emergency contacts, as well as processes on what to do until an ambulance arrives. This action plan, once created, will need to be presented to your child’s day care centre or school, so it can be placed in a prominent position, along with medications and Epinephrine pen.
Secondly, approach the school or day care centre, and talk to them about your child’s food allergy, and what their policy is in regards to prevention, education, management, and responses to emergencies. This will also include ensuring that staff are trained in first aid, and know exactly what to do in an emergency.
Thirdly, you can purchase a medical alert bracelet, highlighting your child’s food allergies. Allow your child to become adjusted to wearing the bracelet whenever they aren’t at home, so it becomes second nature to wear the bracelet.
If your child is at a child care facility, ensure staff clean tables etc. with disposable cleaning cloths prior to mealtimes, to help prevent cross-contamination.
Ask your child’s teacher to give at least a few days’ notice for any occasion at school that may involve food, such as a classmates’ birthday. Also, encourage your child’s teacher to avoid using food as a reward.
Also, ask your child’s teacher to check art supplies for any food related ingredients, such as paints, which may contain Gluten, etc.
Most schools and accredited day care centres are well equipped and trained for anaphylaxis, but may need extra information in regards to prevention and recognising allergens.