It's that magical time of the year where summer activities and camp is here! Although the thought of sending kids with food allergies off to a much more relaxed atmosphere like summer camp can make some parents panic, the reality is that today’s camps are working hard to create safe environments for kids with food allergies. Like with everything else make sure you are diligently communicating with the camp that you are sending your child to.
Here are some talking points when talking to your camp about your child's food allergies.
- Who is the primary healthcare person and what are their credentials?
- Who is responsible for their duties in this person’s absence?
- Who else is trained in emergency care like using an EpiPen.
- How does the camp communicate and monitor food allergy information? (Is this sufficient for your child?)
- How far is the camp from a medical treatment center?
- What trips might the camper take that change the response time?
- Do travel personnel have sufficient medication to provide a margin of safety?
- What limits a camp’s ability to care for your child?
If you’ve found a camp that you feel is a good fit for your kiddo, it’s time to make sure that the camp has everything they need to protect your food allergic child.
- Every camp has an emergency care/health form, so make sure that you have filled out your child’s information accurately. It may help to include an emergency care plan so that the camp knows how to handle an allergic reaction.
- Make sure you talk directly to the camp director and that he or she has talked to all camp personnel about your child’s health condition.
- Talk to the camp director and discuss who on staff is trained to administer an emergency auto-injector.
Now that your camp is thoroughly prepared, you have to talk to your kiddo about what to do when he or she is not under your care.
- Pack a medicine bag and/or coordinate with the camp nurse and talk to your kiddo about each medicine included. Our AllerMates Medicine Cases & bags are a great way to carry kids’ allergy medicine on-the-go to camp. Use this opportunity to make sure that no medicines are expired, too!
- Make sure your kiddo knows to immediately alert an adult if he or she believes they may be having an allergic reaction. Teach them it’s better to be safe than sorry!
- If your child is age appropriate, review the proper way to use an Epi-Pen. Even if you’ve gone over this a million times, one more review certainly won’t hurt!
- Teach kids about the many different signs of an allergic reaction. No two reactions are the same, so your kiddo must learn every possible sign to stay safe.
- Talk to your kiddo about the best way to avoid his or her allergens. Kids should never trade foods at lunchtime and should ALWAYS check with a camp worker if they’re not sure whether something is safe to eat.
- Make sure kids have the right tools to alert caretakers of their dietary needs. Let AllerMates allergy bracelets and dog tag necklaces serve as a friendly reminder to camp caretakers that your kiddo needs to avoid certain foods.
Be sure to teach your kids the allergy safety rules!
Camp should be a memorable time for kids, and with this thorough preparation, they’ll be able to have the time of their lives!
Iris Shamus Wife, mother to three awesome kids and founder/CEO of AllerMates. Based in New York, Iris and her team create helpful content, answer emails, ship their products and obsess every day about keeping kids safe.