Helpful tips from Food Allergy Canada
Back-to-school is usually an exciting time, but for children and teens with food allergies, and especially for their parents, anxiety can accompany those good feelings. To help ease some of that anxiety, we’ve compiled a helpful list of tips for you as you prepare to send your little one (or not so little one) off to begin the new school year.
- Declare your child’s allergy, complete an Anaphylaxis Emergency Plan, and fill out any paperwork permitting the facility to administer epinephrine if necessary.
- Provide a prescription epinephrine auto-injector to the main office, and make sure daycare staff are trained in how to administer it properly.
- Ask if there is a written allergy policy and a set of emergency procedures, and whether the staff are trained in allergy risk-reduction and emergency response. Tell them about the free AllergyAware.ca 30-minute course, Anaphylaxis in Child Care Settings, which provides the basics of anaphylaxis, ways to reduce risks, and recommended emergency treatment.
- Inquire if the daycare serves (or allows other parents to send) any of the foods your child is allergic to. If so, what precautions do they have in place to prevent food sharing and cross-contamination?
- Ask how handwashing before and after meals is handled.
- Because infants and toddlers instinctively put things in their mouths, think about whether there are non-food items on-site (play clay, papier maché ingredients, etc.) which could trigger a reaction.
- Declare your child’s allergy, complete an Anaphylaxis Emergency Plan, and fill out any paperwork permitting the school to administer epinephrine as necessary.
- Make sure your child’s school has a written allergy policy and a set of emergency procedures, and that the teachers know how to implement it.
- Ensure that your child carries their epinephrine auto-injector with them and knows how to use it.
- Provide a second epinephrine auto-injector to the school office.
- Teach your child to manage their allergy confidently. Focus on your confidence in them rather than scary stories about dire consequences.
- Tell the school about the free AllergyAware.ca 30-minute course, Anaphylaxis in Schools, which provides the basics of anaphylaxis, ways to reduce risks, and recommended emergency treatment.
Middle school and high school
- Teens are more likely than younger children to leave home without their epinephrine auto-injector. This is something to raise as a topic of discussion with your child if needed.
- Talk to your child about self-care and how not to be self-conscious about raising the topic of their allergies when food is being prepared or served.
- Remind your child that they should never feel obliged to eat something potentially dangerous only out of embarrassment or peer-pressure.
- Help your child be mindful of bringing their epinephrine auto-injector with them every time they leave the house.
No matter what stage your child is at, with planning in place, parents and kids alike have every reason to be excited about the school year ahead.
Visit foodallergycanada.ca/school for more resources.
About Food Allergy Canada
Food Allergy Canada is a nationally registered charity committed to educating, supporting, and advocating for the more than 2.6 million Canadians with food allergy. Sign-up to receive the latest allergy-related news, including alerts and important updates.