A New School Year Has Begun. Is the Emergency Action Plan for Your Child’s Allergies Ready?
Now that the 2014-15 school year is in session, it may be time to review your allergy emergency action plan with your child’s teacher and school administrators. It might seem as though now is a bit late, but students and parents aren’t generally alerted to teacher assignments until after the school year has begun. Meeting with your child’s teacher during the first month of the new school year can give time for the teacher to get to know your child so that you can have an informed discussion about your child’s needs while under the school’s care. Providing an emergency action plan can help school officials obtain all the information they need in the event of an allergy emergency involving your child.
An emergency action plan for food allergy details critical information. This information is needed to prevent an allergic reaction and also to help teachers and students respond appropriately to an allergy emergency. The emergency action plan includes information regarding:
- Allergy symptoms to watch out for
- Emergency treatment methods
- Directions for the administration of medication
- Emergency contact numbers in the event of an allergy reaction
Some plan templates also allow for the insertion of a photo for easy identification of your child.
Your child’s physician signs the plan and you can provide it to anyone who cares for your child while at school, away at camp or during local recreational activities. The plan is individualized to your child’s allergy needs and should be updated by a physician annually.
Both the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (AAAAI) and the Food Allergy Resources and Education (FARE) have created emergency action plan templates to download and complete for your child.
New School Policies Regarding Allergy Emergencies
In November of 2013, the School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act was signed into law. The Act allows trained school personnel to administer epinephrine in the event of an allergy emergency. Additionally, the Food Safety Modernization Act, updated in 2011, serves to improve food safety by shifting the focus on food allergies from response to prevention. It provides voluntary guidelines that help schools and early childhood education programs better manage kid’s food allergy risks and severe reactions.
Having an emergency action plan on file with childcare providers and school administrators helps keep them informed, and can increase the effectiveness of these new nation-wide school polices.
Enlisting the Assistance of Others
Although schools and care programs have begun implementing strategies to manage allergies while children are in their care, some school staff members might still need to learn about food allergies and practices to avoid allergens in the school setting. Many behaviors, such as reading ingredient labels, which may be automatic for parents whose children suffer from allergies, may be overlooked by others. Continuing to develop partnerships with key people at your child’s school can help. Each contact is important as each person plays a role in your child’s food allergy management.