If your child has a food allergy, it helps to have a checklist to remind yourself of some key safety steps. Go over these simple rules with the whole family.
1. Have an action plan. Make sure relatives, teachers, and other caregivers understand your child's allergy and know what to do in an emergency.
2. Be prepared. If your kid has serious allergies, you and all of their caregivers need to be ready to use an epinephrine shot, such as Auvi-Q or EpiPen, for life-threatening symptoms. Have two injections handy at all times - during games, sleepovers, and field trips. Also, have antihistamines nearby for minor symptoms, such as itching or hives.
3. Get a list of triggers. Ask the doctor for a complete list of ingredients that set off a reaction, and learn how they may be listed on food labels.
4. Educate your child. Teach them about allergy triggers and what foods they're in. Teach them how to use the Auvi-Q or EpiPen.
5. Read ingredients. Check labels on all food you buy. Even if the food is a frequent staple in your home, read labels every time as manufacturing procedures change.
6. Stick with prepackaged food. Items from salad bars, bakeries, and deli counters may have hidden allergy triggers.
7. Be cautious. If you're not sure something is safe, your child shouldn't eat it. Have a reliable stash of your child's favorite foods for events in which risk and exposure are uncertain.
8. Be up-front. Tell restaurant staff about your kid's allergies before you order or eat.
9. Order simple foods. In restaurants, dishes with fewer ingredients may be safer.
10. Carry info about the allergy. Take written material with you, such as chef cards, that you can give to a restaurant's staff.
11. Get an ID. For a serious allergy, your child should wear a medical ID bracelet or necklace.
12. Act fast. If your child has life-threatening symptoms, use an Auvi-Q or EpiPen and get medical help right away.
13. Watch for hidden allergy triggers. They can lurk in drugs, soaps, lotions, and other products.
14. Keep trigger foods out of reach. Or better yet, don't keep them in your home at all.