Friday, August 10, 2012

Food Allergy News: It's Time to Draft Your Food Allergy Emergency Action Plan

At this time of year, I'm often asked about the best ways to keep kids with food allergies safe and healthy at school. Have I got a document for you: the Food Allergy Emergency Action Plan. This document, which explains symptoms and specific actions to take in a food allergy emergency, is crucial to supply at school. You should also have one of these at home, displayed somewhere were you and any other caregivers can easily find it. It's a wonderful document to have no matter where you are -- but it's a school must-have.

You can download a free copy of this important form from The Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network website. This is the form I use year after year; my allergist loves it and said it's the best one out there.

The Food Allergy Emergency Action Plan can be provided as part of your child's IHP (Individual Health Plan, that is, a health plan you create with school health officials and administrators and sign off on) or 504 Plan (legal document created to protect severely allergic students.)

The Food Allergy Emergency Action Plan is completed by your doctor and distributed to key school staff, along with any supporting documents such as medication forms or other required doctor's notes.

If your child ever suffers from a reaction at school, this form is a great go-to in terms of helping teachers or staff know what steps to take. Our teachers and school staff have always really appreciated having us present them with this form because it spells out everything they need to know in an allergic emergency.

From personal experience, I have a few more tips about this form:

- Present the FAEAP on brightly colored or neon paper so that it's easy to spot.

- Be sure to provide a photo of your child in the space provided. (Save a school photo from the previous year and use it on the form.)

- Have  a new FAEAP completed each year and dated for the current school year. Most schools require this to be renewed each year.

- Make note of any medication changes--for example, depending on weight gain and growth, your child may now require a regular dose of epinephrine, not the "jr." version. Your form should reflect this.

- Our daughter's teachers have kept a copy of the Food Allergy Emergency Action Plan in the classroom with them where they can see it. One teacher had it taped to her desk, but any easy access area is good. You want substitutes to have access, too.

Back to school with a food allergy can be stressful, but the Food Allergy Emergency Action Plan has always provided me with greater peace of mind. Download yours now!

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