Summer vacation is upon us, and kids will start enjoying the long days by playing outside, going to sleepovers and pool parties, and seeking air conditioning and independence at the mall or the movie theater. For parents of food-allergic children the lack of structure and supervision is certainly a cause for concern: how can I keep my child safe? Fortunately, summer fun doesn’t have to stop on account of food allergies. With some planning, food allergic children, and their parents, can safely enjoy the summer!
* Prepare a detailed list of allergens and associated foods for your child to carry with them and to provide to caretakers or chaperones;
* Develop a food allergy action plan for your child’s activities (e.g., little league, swimming lessons, etc…);
o The Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN) has a Food Allergy Action Plan form that you can fill out or use as a guide: http://www.foodallergy.org/files/FAAP.pdf.
* Determine where epinephrine auto-injectors will be stored, who will access, when and by whom it should be administered, and follow-up care.
o It is very important to train caretakers on how to use the auto-injector.
Complete any protocol that will allow your child to carry an epinephrine auto-injector at all times.
The Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network has resources on training a babysitter regarding food allergies;
For Food Allergic Individuals:
* Disclose allergies to chaperone, babysitter, or adult in charge;
* Carry at least one epinephrine auto-injector if permitted;
o If not, ensure easy access to one in the event of a reaction.
* Bring “safe” food with you in case you will not have access to safe food while away from home;
* Enlist a friend who understands your situation to look out for you and stick with you if you need to remove yourself from a situation;
o Here is information on Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network’s “Be a Pal” program: http://www.foodallergy.org/page/be-a-pal-program-link-to-girl-scout-patch.
* Find out how one food allergic individual manages her food allergies while enjoying food centered events.
For Non-Food Allergic Individuals:
* Understand that food allergies are potentially life threatening and should not be taken lightly;
* Appreciate that when parents of food allergic children express concern or seek your assistance they are trying to keep their children safe and need your help to do so;
o Ask questions if you do not understand.
* Ask parents or guests of food allergies and how you can help in the food allergy management;
o This may entail avoiding the use of specific ingredients or labeling dishes that contain these ingredients.
* Don’t be offended if a food allergic guest brings food from home or does not eat your food.
Editor’s Note: “Don’t Let Food Allergies Stand in the Way of Summer Fun!” by Katie Burns was originally published on the International Food Information Council Foundation’s Nutrition Blog on June 25, 2010.