According to WebMD, parents of children with severe allergies should always have an emergency action plan for anaphylaxis. The document should include what the child is allergic to and what to do in cases of exposure. The document is necessary for your child’s school, and it is especially important when a child is traveling without parents, such as on a field trip.
Parentology spoke with two medical doctors about creating an anaphylaxis action plan for travel. We also studied several available plans provided by reputable organizations. Here are four tips to keep in mind when creating your own.
1. Start Planning Early
When planning for a trip of any kind, it is tempting to put some things off until the last minute. Dr. Todd Mahr is a pediatrician with a practice in Wisconsin. He is also the parent of a child with severe allergies. He notes that when parents fail to plan ahead, chaos blossoms.
“Advanced planning is needed for both field trips and family travel,” Mahr tells Parentology. “On school trips especially, the supervising adult may not always be a child’s regular teacher. If an incident or allergic emergency does occur, hopefully everyone involved can learn from it and change things so that it does not happen again.”
2. Seek Professional Advice
Dr. Vivian Hernandez-Trujillo, a specialist in allergies and immunology, also has personal experience parenting a child who suffers serious allergic reactions. She reminds parents that the important thing to remember is that there are many resources available for parents and caregivers to educate themselves. For example, there are premade action plans created by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology.
Even so, it is important that parents seek medical advice from their doctor before signing off any strateg. Once doctors have reviewed the document and added their signature, remember to include your contact information in case of emergencies. You should then provide a copy to relevant staff members at school and pack a copy in the child’s bag to present if necessary.
3. Know the Causes
According to the Anaphylaxis Guidelines published by School District U-46, members of staff need to be able to recognize the symptoms of regular allergic reactions and anaphylaxis. Symptoms that signal serious trouble include the following:
- Chest pain
- Turning blue
- Low blood pressure
- Obstructive swelling
- Loss of consciousness
- Shortness of breath or wheezing
Hernandez-Trujillo recommends that you ensure the school staff — especially those traveling with your child — recognize the symptoms. Consider meeting with them to discuss this. That meeting is also a good time to present your written action plan.
4. Pack an Epinephrine Auto-Injector
Finally, Mahr reminds parents to provide auto-injectors and let caregivers on the trip know about them. He cautions parents that if caregivers do not know about these auto-injectors, they may attempt to treat allergy symptoms with less effective treatments, such as antihistamines.
The San Diego Unified School District advises that the only suitable treatment for any symptom of anaphylaxis is epinephrine. Parents can get this packaged in an auto-injector, which make it easy to deliver the correct dose. The school district also warns that no one should rely on asthma inhalers or antihistamines as replacements for epinephrine.
Likewise, Mahr cautions parents to stick to proven remedies to keep their children safe. He stands by the belief that nothing replaces a good anaphylaxis action plan for travel and an auto-injector. Emphasize the importance of this as well as the rest of the plan to caregivers before any school trips to ensure you are on the same page.
Anaphylaxis Action Plan for Travel — Sources
WebMD: Severe Food Allergies: An Emergency Plan
WebMD: Severe Allergic Reaction Treatment
School District U-46: School District U-46 Allergy and Anaphylaxis Guidelines
Vivian Hernandez-Trujillo, MD, Allergy and Immunology Care Center of South Florida
Todd Mahr, MD, American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) President, Director, Pediatric Allergy and Clinical Immunology at Gundersen Health System in La Crosse
San Diego Unified School District: School Anaphylaxis Plan