For a child with food allergies school can be a potential danger zone. The child is for the most part on his own without a parent checking the food they are eating. Children share snacks at lunch, bring in goodies to share with classmates and many children will not ask what these goodies contain. They will not check beforehand to see if there are nuts in the cookie, they dive right in. However, there are steps you can take to eliminate the risk of your child having an allergic reaction at school.
Notify the school of your child’s allergies. Be specific, provide a written list of everything they are allergic to. Make sure the school nurse and your child’s teacher have a copy of the list. Go over the type of reaction your child has whether it be hives, loss of breath, etc … This way if your child starts itching like crazy it will most likely alarm the teacher that maybe the child ate something he is allergic to.
As soon as your child is old enough to understand go over with them repeatedly exactly what they can and cannot have. Make sure they understand how serious allergies can be. It’s not that you don’t want them to have a cookie, you don’t want them to die. Children also should be told to ask when they are not sure what is in an item, especially baked items from home. Many people include nuts (a very common allergy) in baked products and you can not see them at first glance. Make sure to go over with your child regularly what they are allergic to and ask them if they are taking the necessary precautions of asking what is in something before they eat it.
If your child carries an Epi-Pen or other medicine for allergic reactions make sure the nurse and teacher know where it is kept and make sure the medicine is readily accessible. The easier it is to find the faster they will be able to administer it.
Additionally, letting your child’s friends know that they are allergic to certain foods and informing them about what to do should your child start having a reaction can provide extra protection. This way if the teacher doesn’t notice something is wrong hopefully the child will call for help.
There is no way to make school a completely safe zone for children with allergies, there are too many opportunities for a child to eat something without checking to see what it’s made of but by taking these precautions you can greatly reduce the risk of your child eating something he is allergic to.