As a parent of a child with a potentially life-threatening allergy, you know what allergens need to be avoided and know what to do in case a life-threatening (severe) allergic reaction occurs. But what about your child’s caregivers when you can’t be around? Whether it’s your child’s teacher, a babysitter, relatives or your child’s friend’s parents, it’s a good idea to write out a plan for the caregiver that involves these four steps:
- Avoid known allergens
- Know the signs and symptoms of a severe reaction
- Use an EpiPen® (epinephrine injection, USP) Auto-Injector if a life-threatening allergic reaction occurs
- Get emergency medical help right away
In addition to the four steps listed above, you may want to consider including a list of known allergens, emergency contact info, medications currently being taken and your healthcare professional’s contact information. For your convenience, Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) and the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAI) both have printable anaphylaxis action plan sheets that you can laminate, post on the fridge or by the phone and use to manage this information for caregivers. The My EpiPlan® app can also help you create Allergen Profiles you can share with teachers, family and friends.
After you go over the four basic steps outlined above with a caregiver, you should also go over this important information:
- If there are triggers in your home, show the caregiver where they are located and explain the importance of reading food labels. Go over the scientific and technical names the allergen may go by, as well as other alternative names the food may have.
- Emphasize that even trace amounts, “just this once” and “just a little bit” of your child’s trigger can result in a severe reaction. This also means that absolutely no food is to be brought into the house unless approved by you — this includes take-out, homemade food and anything you don’t normally buy your child.
- Be sure that the caregiver is aware of the hazards of cross-contact and understands that unseen amounts of a trigger may be transferred to another food or surface. This is especially important if the caregiver plans to take your child outside the home, where a trigger may be lurking on clothing, in food samples and in saliva from people and pets.
- Finally, every EpiPen 2-Pak® and EpiPen Jr 2-Pak® carton includes an EpiPen® Trainer, which doesn't contain medication or a needle, to help patients and caregivers become familiar with the epinephrine administration technique. Have the caregiver practice along with the how-to video or watch it, along with other tips and stories, on youtube.com/epipen.