Back-to-School Action Plan: Living with Allergies

As summer comes to an end, parents are preparing for the start of a new school year. For parents of children with food or other severe allergies, back to school can be an especially stressful time. Parents, typically, can best control their children’s exposure to allergens as well as recognize the first symptoms of an allergic reaction. At school, children are away from their parents’ watchful eye.

What can a worried parent do? Safe4kids is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to ensuring safe childcare, educational and recreational environments for children with food allergies. They recommend formulating a Back-to-School Action Plan for managing your child’s allergies during the school year.

What is a Back-to-School Action Plan? It’s a detailed plan that ensures the school understands exactly how to prevent exposures and treat symptoms of your child’s allergy. An action plan is critical to keeping any child with a severe allergy safe at school.

According to Safe4Kids, your action plan should include:

  1. Explicit details about the nature of your child’s allergy  
  2. Additional information regarding your child’s health –especially if they have asthma, diabetes, or another medical condition that may impact treatment to an allergic reaction
  3. Exact symptoms to look for in case of an allergic reaction (include both severe and mild symptoms, in detail)
    • Trouble breathing or shortness of breath
    • Itchy throat
    • Hives
    • Stomach pains
    • Swelling of tongue or lips
    • Weak pulse
    • Feeling faint
  4. Emergency response plan if your child suffers an allergic reaction at school
    • Call 911 first!
    • Specify if your child carries an auto-injector (i.e. EPIPEN), and include directions for use
    • Identify emergency contacts in case of an incident– parents and physician
  5. Medical Identification: your child should wear a bracelet, necklace, or shoe tag that clearly states their allergy

The goal of an Action Plan is to ensure that the school nurse, the child’s teachers and schools’ personnel are aware of your child’s allergy and know exactly what to do in the event of an allergic reaction. Which is why Safe4Kids recommends a MedicAlert bracelet as a necessary tool for anyone with an allergy.

Kerry Walsh, Safe4kids Executive Director, states that “Often, children with food allergies may not be able to speak for themselves. A medical ID provides essential information at a critical time and will potentially save a life.” In addition, Kerry states that “A MedicAlert ID is also a great conversation starter, to help educate and bring awareness to the seriousness of any allergy, specifically food allergies.”

Safe4kids began the same way MedicAlert Foundation was founded: from a parent’s desire to keep their child safe. Founder Courtney Mullin is a mom of three, two of whom have severe allergies.

Mullin leads a team that dedicated to ensuring safe childcare, educational and recreational environments for children with food allergies. Safe4Kids is a New York State Department of Health recognized Anaphylaxis and Epinephrine Auto-Injector training program. They provide educational workshops for schools, childcare providers, camps parents, and community members.

MedicAlert Foundation and Safe4Kids share the same mission – to protect and save lives.

Get the jump on the school year by working on your child’s Action Plan now. Learn how you can bring a Safe4Kids program to your school or organization to provide education about severe allergies and how parents, teachers and the community can help prevent and treat allergic reactions.

How can MedicAlert help you? MedicAlert is peace of mind, knowing that your loved one is protected during an allergic reaction. With a MedicAlert ID and membership, your loved one’s medical history, action plan and emergency info are stored, safe and secure, in their MedicAlert profile. So, if they do experience an allergic reaction, their medical ID will provide an emergency response team with the necessary information to keep your loved one safe.

How does it work? Emergency response teams are trained to look for a MedicAlert ID. Should your loved one experience an allergic reaction, accessing the MedicAlert ID number on the bracelet or necklace will connect first responders to MedicAlert’s 24/7 Emergency Response Team. When seconds count, MedicAlert will relay the member’s critical medical history and list of emergency contacts, providing first responders with a detailed health record and action plan.