If you’re a parent of a child with life-threatening reactions to food, you’re keenly aware that ordinary events such as birthday parties and cafeterias can quickly turn into a medical emergency.
Here’s how you can help others help your child.
1. Tell everyone what your child cannot eat.
While we don’t think of food being offered at places such as karate or piano lessons, you never know. So don’t leave anyone off the list. Create a sheet that identifies your child’s restricted food and what to do if he accidentally ingests it.
2. Don’t assume your child will refrain from eating the restricted food.
Again, at our center, we had a child once tell us, “I am going to die now because I just ate some peanuts.” After a few panicking moments, we knew she was okay since she was talking and breathing normally, and there were no signs of anaphylactic shock. Turns out that it was another type of nut that she could not eat, but clearly, this child had gone ahead and eaten something she thought was bad for her.
3. Don’t expect your child to know what to do if she accidentally ingests a restricted food.
When we relayed to the mother of this same child what had happened, she assured us that her daughter’s medicine had been right in her backpack all along—had she actually eaten the nut she was actually allergic to. Really? She expected a nine-year-old girl to what? Go to her backpack and administer a shot while she was in the throes of an allergic reaction? And recall, that’s not what her daughter did when she thought she had eaten the restricted food.
4. Establish a “no sharing food” rule for your child.
Make sure your child and your child’s friends know and honor this rule at all times.
5. Educate others that children can have adverse reactions just by smelling or touching the restricted food.
This means adults must also pay attention to what’s being used in arts, crafts, and science projects.
When it comes to fatal food allergies, parents of such children can’t afford to be anything but proactive. The more people understand how they can help prevent adverse reactions, the safer such kids will be.