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Top 11 Organization Tips to Managing Food Allergies
How organization can help you manage your child’s food allergies
Every parent of a food allergic child knows organization is critical. This month's guest writer, Laura, is a self-proclaimed "organizing junkie" as well as a member of Kids With Food Allergies. In this article, she shares some tips on how organization can help you manage your child's food allergies.My eight-year-old son, Dylan, is allergic to dairy, gluten, eggs, nuts, fish and soy. Our food allergy journey began when he was just six months old. I wondered, how we would ever manage to stay on top of all these allergies and keep our son safe. What I thankfully discovered is that with some careful planning and organization, life with food allergies can be a lot less stressful and provide a lot more flexibility. Along the way, I developed 11 practices that have made a world of difference for our family.
1. Maintain a clutter-free kitchen:
The kitchen is the hot spot for cross contamination. To avoid this, clear your countertops of everything that isn't used on a regular basis. The less "stuff" you have on your countertops, the less "stuff" you have to worry about cleaning.
2. Store household cleaner where you use it:
Storing a small bottle of countertop cleaner by your sink allows you to quickly wipe down countertop surfaces before and after every meal, alleviating any cross contamination issues.
3. Designate a safe zone at the table:
My son sits at the exact same place at our kitchen table each day for meals. To reduce cross contamination, no one else is allowed to sit at his spot. After each meal I use a clean dishcloth to wipe the table and I always start with my son's spot first.
4. Contain allergy friendly foods in one area:
In your kitchen arrange for one of your shelves or cupboards to be used strictly for safe foods for your child. This not only allows your child to confidently reach for his own snack but makes it a lot easier for other caregivers to also know exactly what is and isn't safe for your child.
5. Create a medication station in your kitchen:
Many people tend to keep their medications in the bathroom; however, the most likely place for an allergic reaction to take place is in the kitchen or dining room. Use a basket on a shelf in one of your kitchen cupboards (away from heat, cold, little fingers and pets) to store EpiPens® or Twinjects® and any antihistamine used for allergic reactions.
6. Keep batches of prepared foods in the freezer:
This one step has probably saved me the most heartache. Having prepared cupcakes and cookies in the freezer makes it easier for you to grab a safe treat the next time you find yourself in a situation where you need one in a hurry.
7. Add an epinephrine autoinjector hook by your front door:
Whenever my son leaves the house, he carries with him Benadryl®, EpiPens® and wipes in a fanny pack. Having a designated spot for his pack by the front door ensures it won't be forgotten as we are heading out.
8. Create a caregiver book:
Prepare a three-ring binder with all your child's allergy information including allergy treatment authorization forms, pertinent allergy information, a list of all medications taken, a list with phone numbers of all health care providers, EpiPen® or Twinject® instructions, medical history, schedules, allergy friendly recipes, etc. Having this information centrally located will make it easy to find in an emergency.
9. Create a medication box for school:
For this purpose I use a plastic shoebox-type container. I put a picture of my son and his name on the front of the box and inside are his asthma medications, two EpiPens®, Benadryl® and all treatment authorization forms and instructions. This type of container allows the school to clearly see who the box belongs to and what is inside.
10. Keep wipes in your vehicle:
Keep a supply of antibacterial wipes in your vehicle so you are prepared to wipe down table surfaces where ever you go.
11. Create play date cards:
Business size cards typed with important contact information on one side and applicable emergency instructions on the other can give you some peace of mind when allowing your child to play at the home of another.
Approved by KFA Medical Advisory Team March 2008.