Field trips…these words can strike immediate fear in parents of children with food allergies. I’ll admit…even after years of field trips, there is always a part of me that cringes. A deviation from the regular schedule (such as a field trip) can be dangerous for children with food allergies.
…But it doesn’t have to be…
Field trips are a normal part of growing up for most school-aged students and it should be no different for children with food allergies. It can be a wonderful learning experience for our children and ourselves on both an academic and food allergy level.
Here are a couple of important tips for having a safe field trip:
- Talk to your child’s teacher and express your concerns. Most likely, he or she will help you safely navigate preparing your child for the field trip and ensuring their safety.
- Request for your child to be in the teacher’s field trip group. (Most classes are broken down into groups of 4-5 kids per adult and are chaperoned by the teacher or volunteer parents.)
- Volunteer to ride the bus (if you can’t ride the bus, let the teacher know you will be taking your own car and meeting the class on location.
- Make sure all of your child’s medication is still good (not expired) and correctly labeled with the original prescription tag.
- Talk to the nurse in advance about your child’s allergies medication. (Most schools do not have a school nurse attending the field trip. In that case, another adult will be responsible for carrying and administering your child’s medication in an emergency situation. I prefer to cut out the middle man and attend the field trip myself so that I can carry the medicine and am not relying on someone else who may or may not be trained on spotting and treating an allergic reaction.)
- Work with the nurse to train your child’s teacher (if you haven’t already) on how to administer epinephrine and antihistamines.
- Pack your child’s lunch and clearly label his or her name on each bag, bottle, or part of their lunch. If you are unable to be at the field trip it is essential that the adult responsible for your child is aware of your child’s food allergies as the group sits down to eat lunch.
- Gently remind your child about the importance of not sharing food and other techniques that can keep them safe.
- Make sure your and your child’s emergency contact information is up to date and accurate.
- Special Note: If your child has asthma, make sure to follow the above rules for asthma medication and consider any environmental changes that could affect your child’s asthma on a field trip (example: butterfly greenhouse exhibit).
For more tips on taking field trips, contact your allergist for additional recommendations. He or she will be able to guide you and may even have a checklist for you to follow and share with the school.
Now that you’ve done your homework and planned accordingly, focus on reminding your child to enjoy the field trip and take notice of the wonderful learning opportunities at hand!