We have several students at our school who have life-threatening food allergies including cinnamon, walnuts, pecans, and peanuts. Eating these foods, even in trace amounts, may cause a severe reaction (anaphylaxis). The following symptoms may occur: hives, difficulty breathing, vomiting and diarrhea, swelling of the lips, mouth, and throat, itching and sneezing, loss of consciousness, and death due to shock. Even touching contaminated surfaces may cause a reaction. School staff have been trained to recognize such a reaction and to administer medication (epinephrine) in an emergency. You can help staff and the school by taking advantage of opportunities to learn more about food allergies and by helping your child understand the foods they freely enjoy can be dangerous to others. Equally important, however, is to let them know they can support their classmates by eating and handling food responsibly.
Here are a few suggestions for you as parents:
- Never take food allergies lightly; they can be serious and life-threatening.
- Ask your child’s friends what they are allergic to and help them avoid it.
- Tell your child, “do not share food.”
- Frequent hand washing reduces the spread of viruses during the school year and helps protect food allergic students and flu exposure. Wash hands thoroughly after eating. Similarly, encourage good hygiene before and after-school. Ask your child to wash up if they have been particularly messy during breakfast. Wash hands and surfaces before handling library or text books or school equipment.
- Tell your child to get help from an adult immediately if a schoolmate has a reaction.