During the school year, you probably have a straightforward method for dealing with your kid's food allergies. Teachers and school administrators know the drill and many carry EpiPens in case of emergency.
But how do you attain that same level of security when your kids go away to camp for a week in the summer or take swim lessons or other short-term summer activities? It's hard to get that same level of trust and assurance from counselors and staff who may see thousands of kids rotating through a program all summer long. How do you know that your kids will be safe?
Here are some useful tips for sending off a child with food allergies so she can have some summertime fun.
Notify. Whether your child is going to a month-long camp or an hour-long class, be sure to notify his counselor — both in person and in writing — about his allergy. The face-to-face connection will help the staff remember you and your child, and the written information will jog their memory about your concerns.
Be prepared. Now is a good time to double-check the expiration date on your child's EpiPen, particularly if it has been sitting in the nurse's office at school all year long. Send it along with your child wherever she goes and make sure that someone knows how to use it. Better yet, if she is old enough, ask your child's allergist to fill out a form saying that she can carry her own EpiPen and make sure she knows when and how to use it.
Educate. Believe it or not, some people still have not heard about the prevalence of food allergies. Or they may not realize that allergens like peanuts, wheat or dairy products may be present in foods you wouldn't normally expect. If you think that might be the case, bring along some info about your child's allergy and make sure the staff, teachers, and counselors know what to look for — and what foods to watch out for — to keep your child safe.
Ask questions. When it comes to kids and food allergies, you need to know what kinds of protocols the program has in place. Don't be afraid to ask questions, and make suggestions if those you're speaking to don't have a solid plan. After all, it should be everyone's goal to keep your child — and all of the kids in the program — safe.