I sent my boys back to school today with the normal concerns. Will they have good teachers? Will they re-adjust to the social mores of school? Will I ever put anything in their lunchboxes that they're happy with?
There’s one issue I don't have to worry about that many parents do. I don't have to worry that something they eat at lunch or in the classroom may be life threatening. They are, thankfully, free from food allergies. That's not the case for my neighbor Betsy. When her four-year-old goes to her pre-school class next week, Betsy has to go into total intervention mode to ensure her daughter's safety. She has severe, life-threatening food allergies, and Betsy is always looking for ways to keep her daughter safe and educate others about the seriousness of her daughter's, and other children's, food allergies.
When the makers of SafetyTat reached out to me to see if I'd like to sample their safety tattoos for children, I asked Betsy if she and her daughter would like to test them out. She agreed.
Safety Tats are bright temporary tattoos that highlight a child’s food allergies for everyone to see so caregivers know what to keep away from an allergic child. They are also a visual reminder to a child of the foods they must avoid.
The tattoos I was sent for sample said "Allergy Alert" on them and had space to write the specific foods that must be avoided. They came with a pen to write with (a Sharpie can also be used if the pen gets lost) and instructions on how to apply and remove.
Betsy tried a tattoo on her daughter for almost a week. She found it easy to apply and write on, and the writing never smudged. Her daughter was receptive to the tattoo and enjoyed showing it to people. It was placed on the inside of the forearm and lasted six days before it was removed. There was some lint around the edge of a tattoo, but it was still secure when she removed it — which she found a bit difficult to do and her daughter found a little painful.
She feels the tattoos are best used for places where caregivers are not familiar with her daughter and her allergies — sort of as an extra layer of protection along with her allergy-alert bracelet and lots of verbal communication.
Her main concern was visibility, especially during long-sleeve weather. It was too big to put on the back of her daughter’s small hand, or she believes that would be a viable option. If she could put it on her daughter’s forehead, she joked, that would be best. No one would miss it then.
When a child has severe, life-threatening food allergies, I would say these tattoos are good in conjunction with other precautions — especially if a child thinks it’s cool to have the tattoo on and makes a big deal about it to others. Then, it becomes more noticable and visible.
For kids who have less severe allergies (and as a mom whose children don't have food allergies, I would personally never choose to determine when an allergy is severe and when it's not), these are probably very useful, especially if the child doesn't have an allergy-alert bracelet.
In addition to the allergy alert tattoos, SafetyTat makes phone number tattoos to put on children in case they get lost and also medical condition tattoos. They can come custom printed so you don't have to write on them, or you can order them blank and write on them with the provided pen.
Lots of new activities are starting up this fall — school, new before- and after-school care programs, recreational sports teams, religious classes, art and music classes — where the adults in charge may not be familiar with a child's special food needs. SafetyTat can be one of the tools parents use to inform and educate others about how to keep their child with food allergies safe.
Also on MNN
- What are food allergy symptoms?
- Why are so many kids allergic?
- Cat allergies: How to treat cats with allergies