An important part of education, field trips are a highlight of the school year for many children. But they can also pose challenges for families managing food allergies.
In planning for field trips, care should be taken to ensure a safe and healthy environment for all students, including those with food allergies. Follow these tips for a fun and safe field trip experience.
- Stay up-to-date on upcoming special events in your child's school. The more time you have to plan ahead, the better.
- Remember that you and your child's teacher need to work together as a team to keep your child safe.
- Role-play with your child and practice what your child should do if a reaction is occurring.
- Children are often reluctant to mention that they're having symptoms of an allergic reaction, for fear of creating a scene. Teach your child to be persistent. Quick treatment of allergic reactions is essential—seconds count.
- After the event, briefly call or meet with your child's teacher to discuss what went well. Also talk about what, if anything, should be changed in the future. Praise a job well done; a thank-you note reinforces the idea of teamwork and builds a positive atmosphere.
- Go over the student's Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Emergency Care Plan. Ask the parents to review the plan you have on file and note any updated information. Also ask parents to check the expiration dates on any medications.
- Review the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Emergency Care Plan and consider the upcoming event. Find out where the nearest hospital is and discuss how a student would get there in case of an emergency.
- Brief the staff and chaperones who will be supervising students during the event or trip. Identify the student with a food allergy and discuss what foods he or she must avoid. Explain the symptoms of an allergic reaction and review the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Emergency Care Plan. Choose a staff member to check the safety of any food served to that student.
- The day of the event or trip, carry the student's medications wherever he or she goes. Keep all staff and chaperones informed about who will hold the student's medications. In the case of a severe allergic reaction, known as anaphylaxis, speedy access to medications can be the difference between life and death.
- Carry a cell phone to make any necessary emergency calls. Make certain all staff and chaperones know who has a phone with them.
- Take all complaints seriously. If student tells the staff that he or she is not feeling well, compare the symptoms with those on that student's Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Emergency Care Plan.
- If the student is having an allergic reaction, begin emergency procedures immediately. Remember, when in doubt, use epinephrine! The risks of anaphylaxis outweigh any risks from giving the medication.
- For more tips, see this field trip checklist from the CDC.