Saturday, June 18, 2016

Be a Super Hero this summer when it comes to Food Allergies

With summer starting children will be breaking from the normal day-to-day school routine.  This can be a challenging time for kids with food allergies as they begin to interact with new people and visit out of the ordinary places during summer camps, family vacations, amusement park excursions or trips to the zoo where there may not be a familiarity with dealing with this medical condition.  FARE (Food Allergy Research & Education), one of the leading non-profit advocacy groups for the 15 million Americans with food allergies, wants to help educate those who aren't afflicted with food allergies to have an understanding of the safety issues important for those who do have them. Plus FARE wishes to remind those with food allergies (especially children) along with their family and friends not to let your guard down when it comes to maintaining safety practices over the summer break.  You can be a FARE super hero this summer by being cautious and considerate regarding food allergies!

As an educational tool, safety kit, and fundraiser, FARE is offering a special Summer Pack for $29.95 (plus shipping) to help children with food allergies during the summer break from school.  It is a simple, fun way to store and carry all your favorite summer allergy-friendly products.  Plus all proceeds support FARE's mission!

The FARE Summer Pack includes a cinch bag, a medicine storage kit, a food allergy restaurant card, a food allergy tip sheet and a common symptoms of anaphylaxis magnet:

FARE cinch bag:  big enough to carry a water bottle, epi-pens, and all the other stuff kids haul around with them during the summer months.  It also displays to encourage people to learn more about the topic and give them a heads up that this is an issue to be cautious about.

Medicine Storage Kit:  Can accommodate two epinephrine auto-injectors, a large bottle of antihistamine, and a list of emergency phone numbers.  It is bright red so it is easy to spot!

A Food Allergy Restaurant Card to present to the chef while dining out to outline the foods and ingredients you must avoid.

Common Symptoms of Anaphylaxis Magnet lists the most common symptoms of anaphylaxis and what to do in an emergency so that camp counselors, coaches, babysitters, and other people who may be supervising a child with food allergies can have easy access to the information.

Parents who have a child with food allergies that will be outside a lot in hot weather may also want to consider purchasing a FRIO Epinephrine Cooling Bag which isn't included in the FARE Summer Pack.  It keeps epinephrine at a stable room temperature during the hot summer months! This reusable 5.5” x 7” wallet has insulating qualities that are activated by water – no refrigeration or ice needed – and holds 2 epinephrine auto-injectors. When activated, the FRIO cooling pack keeps its low temperature for a minimum of two days, even in temperatures of 100 degrees Fahrenheit. This is a great item to add to your emergency supply kit, travel kit or camping kit as there is no refrigeration needed. 

FARE has also posted a special SAFE FOR THE SUMMER section on its website.  It includes tips on emergency preparedness, traveling, summer camp, and barbeques.  Summer Barbeque Tips for Hosts & Guest and Managing Food Allergies at Camp are two very informative articles I'd recommend everyone take a moment to read.  This special educational section of the FARE website also highlights four important points for families dealing with food allergies to remember over the summer months:
  1. Avoid the heat: Epinephrine is sensitive to light and should be stored at room temperature. Never leave your auto-injectors in a vehicle, where temperatures can rise to the triple digits. 
  2. Prevent: Make sure you remain vigilant about reading labels and never take chances with foods you're unsure are safe.
  3. Prepare: Summer is a great time to prepare for the school year, including learning how to advocate for your child and about the guidelines and laws that help ensure the safety and inclusion of students with food allergies. 
  4. Practice: Using a trainer or expired auto-injector, practice how to use the device. Review your Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Emergency Care Plan with the entire family and all caregivers.
Dealing with my own children's food allergies is something that our family has to be constantly vigilant about.  I shared my story about being a food allergy dad on the FARE blog which you can read here.  We're lucky in that my children attend a school with a peanut free campus which provides a lot of peace of mind regarding their safety while they are attending classes but have to admit it can be easy to become complacent when they aren't guaranteed as protective an environment during the summer months when out and about.  Please be a Super Hero this summer by being cautious and considerate about food allergies.  Your actions could save a life!

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