It’s easy to keep an eye on your child and what they eat, drink, or play with when they’re under your constant supervision. It’s not so easy when they leave the home. Whether they’re going to daycare or high school, you should prepare your child, your child’s teachers, and yourself with a few allergy safety strategies. That way, you can rest just a bit easier knowing they’re in good hands.

Talk with Your Kids

The best way to prevent an allergic reaction is to avoid coming into contact with the allergen in the first place. Older kids have an easier time with this—they know what to look for and what to avoid. Younger children may need some guidance. Below is a checklist of measures your child can take, with your help, to prevent dangerous allergic reactions.

Allergy Checklist for Your Child:

  • Wear your allergy bracelets. Companies are now making colorful, kid-safe bracelets for the younger crowd. These bracelets can help younger children communicate their allergies and alert emergency responders to an allergy in the event of a problem.
  • Don’t share food. Though they may have the best intentions, your child’s friends can accidentally hurt your child when they share their snacks or lunch.
  • Introduce yourself to adults. Teach your child to greet adults and explain their allergies when going to a new place. This includes school. Even though you may talk with your child’s teachers about the allergies, it helps if the educator can put a face to your child’s name.
  • Learn to inject epinephrine. Speak with your child’s doctor about training your child to use an epinephrine autoinjector. Younger kids will need adults to do this at first, but as they grow older and more responsible, children need to learn how to administer the life-saving medication themselves.
  • Recognize the symptoms of a reaction—and tell someone. Severe allergic reactions require immediate medical attention. Help your child learn to recognize the early symptoms of an allergic reaction. These symptoms may include itching, coughing, chest discomfort or tightness, difficulty breathing, and nausea or vomiting. If these symptoms occur, your child should speak with an adult immediately.

Talk to Other Parents

Birthdays and holiday parties are a fun way for classmates to share treats with each other. Unfortunately, it’s also a time when food allergy reactions can occur. Send an email to the parents in your child’s class. Ask them to notify you when they’ll be bringing birthday goodies to the classroom. Make arrangements for your child to have an acceptable alternative so they won’t be left out of any celebrations.

Talk to Your Child’s School

Once your child is diagnosed, make an appointment to talk to teachers, school staff, and administrators right away. The sooner they know about your child’s allergy and how they can help, the better. At the beginning of each school year, it’s important to talk with your child’s teachers again about their allergies, especially if medications or response plans have changed. 

Because life-threatening food allergies are becoming more common, most schools and school districts have developed policies for addressing the needs of children with food allergies. Be sure you obtain a copy of your school district’s policies. It can help you create an official Allergy Action Plan (AAP) for your child. This will serve as the official plan if your child has a reaction. 

What follows is a checklist to follow each school year for making school allergy-safe for your child.

A Checklist for Each School Year

  • Get on the calendar. Make an appointment with your child’s teachers, principals, instructors, and school nurse. Introduce yourself and your child.
  • Talk to the cafeteria staff. Make an appointment with the lunch staff. Talk with them about keeping your child safe from possible allergens. It may be best and safest for you to pack a lunch each day. This can help your child avoid cross-contamination and a possible allergic reaction.
  • Make a plan. Provide your child’s school with an AAP and phone numbers of doctors and family members who should be contacted in case of a reaction.
  • Be prepared. Give your health insurance information to the school. That way, it is on file if your child is rushed to an emergency room.
  • Supply and restock allergy-safe snacks for your child. Teachers can use these throughout the year when the class has snack time or a celebration.

Be Partners in Your Child’s Care at School

The best way to care for your child at school is to be a good advocate for them. That starts with creating good relationships with teachers, administrators, and nurses.  When you provide these caretakers with the tools they need to properly assist your child, you can feel confident knowing they are one part of a very important partnership. Together, you can keep your child safe.