Prevent Allergic Reactions on Valentine's Day

A recent survey revealed that as many as one in three children with life-threatening allergies have experienced anaphylaxis on Valentine's Day. The survey also found that teens who date are at the most risk of a reaction as less than half of parents talk to their child about the risks posed by kissing and dating.

Prevention and preparedness are important for every situation when it comes to children with food allergies. Since Valentine's Day presents it own challenges, we have some special tips to help you ensure your child's (or teen's) safety on this holiday.

PREVENTION: It is important to ACT to prevent an allergic reaction.
AVOID: Labels should be read prior to eating food or candy. Ingredients can change. Fun-size candies can have different ingredients than regular size. Teach your child that if they are unsure if an item is safe to not eat the item.

Valentine's thumbprint cookies COMMUNICATE: Your child, their close friends or dates, caregivers, and teachers should know about the allergy.

TEACH: Educate all caregivers who have responsibility for your child. Include children in developmentally appropriate self management skills (hand washing, allergen avoidance, saying "no thank you," reporting symptoms, etc.).

PREPAREDNESS: Be prepared to REACT.
RECOGNIZE ANAPHYLAXIS (a severe life-threatening allergic reaction): Be comfortable knowing which symptoms suggest a severe allergic reaction and when to use self-injectable epinephrine. Discuss this with your healthcare provider.

GIVE EPINEPHRINE: Epinephrine is the first line of treatment for anaphylaxis. Be sure your child or a responsible adult carries it to have it on hand and always available.

ACTIVATE EMERGENCY RESPONSE: After treating with epinephrine, call your local ambulance service and tell them that a child is having an allergic reaction and may need more epinephrine.

Accidental exposures to food allergens happen despite the utmost care parents take to avoid them, but with these tips you will be able to prevent some accidents and if an accident does occur, you'll be able to properly treat the allergic reaction.

These 7 Tips to Make Valentine's Day Safe and Fun for Everyone at School will also help you with strategies on how to avoid allergic reactions.

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