When it comes to an allergy (nut allergy, dairy allergy, egg allergy, or any other allergy), pediatricians and allergists usually advise strict avoidance and prescribe a pair of EpiPens in case of an allergic reaction. The EpiPens are to be brought everywhere you go. However, what else do you need to bring along with the EpiPens? A Food Allergy Action Plan!
WHAT IS A FOOD ALLERGY ACTION PLAN?
Hopefully the need will never arise, but in case you do have an allergic reaction, someone needs to know the details about your symptoms and how to help. Your Food Allergy Action Plan specifies exactly what treatment is recommended in case of an allergic reaction. It is a document that details out what you’re allergic to, what the symptoms are, and how to treat it. It also includes your name, photo, and emergency contact information. It’s a good idea to keep this together with the EpiPens.
WHEN WOULD YOU NEED IT?
There are many possible scenarios where written clear instructions would come in very useful.
- Your allergic child has a reaction, and you panic and can’t think clearly.
- Your allergic child is at school and teachers suspect a reaction but are not sure which child is allergic to which food and who has what symptoms.
- Your allergic child has a substitute teacher for a day who doesn’t know anything about her.
- You drop off your allergic child at a play date and although you’ve discussed the symptoms and EpiPen instructions, it’s a lot of details for the other parent to remember.
- You drop off your allergic child at a party with a lot of other kids and one host parent.
- Grandpa wants to be sure before administering the EpiPen.
- Your allergic pre-teen self-carries his EpiPen and has an allergic reaction with his friends around. The friends try to help, but they don’t know when and if they should administer the EpiPen. They also don’t know how to use the EpiPen.
- A helpful adult administers the EpiPen and now wants to notify the parent, but can’t find the contact phone number.
- You are an adult with a serious food allergy and you suffer a serious allergic reaction while by yourself. Someone comes to help and finds your EpiPen in your purse, but you’re not well enough to explain your situation and they don’t know how to help.
- You are an adult with a food allergy and you live alone. In case anything happens, it’s helpful to post your Food Allergy Action Plan up in plain sight (for example: bathroom medicine cabinet, kitchen cupboard).
FARE (Food Allergy Research & Education)
The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Emergency Care Plan, formerly the Food Allergy Action Plan, can be found at https://www.foodallergy.org/faap. This is provided by FARE, the trusted source of information about food allergies. Download the PDF document, then either fill it out on the computer and print it out or just print it out and fill in with a pen.
ADD A PHOTO
It’s very important to add a photo to your Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Emergency Care Plan. The photo will allow the person reading the document to unmistakingly know who it is referencing, even when amongst a large group of people.
For example: You’re talking to your child’s substitute teacher from across the room and explaining the details of his/her food allergy. You’d want the teacher to recognize your son or daughter if the need should arise. Without that photo on the food allergy action plan, you’d point in the general direction of your allergic child, but there could be a whole crowd of kids there. With that photo, the teacher would know exactly who you’re referring to and will still be able to after you’ve left.
WHERE TO PUT THE FOOD ALLERGY ACTION PLAN
After you fill out the form, print out copies to put in the following places:
- Keep one with each set of EpiPens. Fold it so that the name and photo shows outward.
- Hang one up in your medicine cabinet.
- Hang one inside the kitchen cupboard door for easy referencing.
- Give a copy to your child’s teacher and the school office.
- Hang one at the grandparent’s home.
- Keep one in your purse.
- Fold one into a ziploc bag and keep in your child’s school lunchbox in case the lunch duty needs to see it.
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- To make your Food Allergy Action Plan stand out in a stack of white paper, print it out on bright colored paper. Fluorescent paper would be even better!
- Get a complimentary EpiPen carrying case from the EpiPen site.
- Stop carrying an entire bottle of Benadryl around. Bring a few Benadryl Chewables in case of emergency. Easy peasy!
For more information about food allergies, visit FARE’s website at www.foodallergy.org
Do you have a Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Emergency Care Plan?
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