Today, I’d like to make some recommendations for kids with serious food allergies who will be attending summer camp. Before he or she takes off, be sure to have a written food allergy action plan by an allergist and/or pediatrician. This action plan should focus on a few main concepts:
Make a List of Foods to Avoid
- Have a specific list of all food allergies and items to avoid. Accidental exposure may occur, and there needs to be a clear-cut plan in case of an emergency.
- Be clear about the proper, immediate treatment for allergic reactions.
- Know the location of and how to use an epinephrine-auto injector.
Become Familiar with Food Allergy Warning Signs
Be familiar with the early warning signs of a food allergic reaction in a child and be sure that camp staff is aware of these signs as well.
An awareness must be present at camp as far as food sharing, especially with younger children. Also, always travel with safe foods and snacks, and this really helps to reduce temptation.
Become a ‘Label Detective’
Being a label detective during the summer and at camp is essential in reducing the risk of consuming foods that need to be avoided. For example, knowing various common food and chemical allergen names, such as ‘casein’, a milk protein, is critical. In fact, casein can even be found in canned tuna and hot dogs in some cases. In many facilities, it’s now common to see peanut and nut free policies for all of the campers and staff.
Have a conference before camp starts with camp staff about what you expect if they are to care for your child properly. The best offense is a great defense, so take the time to have a thorough conversation with those in charge before your kid goes off to camp this summer!
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