Before you know it, students everywhere will be heading back to school. With one in three children having an allergy, and one in eleven suffering from asthma, schools have developed procedures for handling medication and preventing emergency situations. It’s up to you as a parent to prepare your child and communicate with the school staff how to handle any emergency situations that may arise during the school year.
Here are tips and reminders on how to prepare yourself, your child and their school.
Turn in Proper Documentation
Every school and school district tends to be different, some have a general district-wide form, while others need school-specific forms. Contact your school for the proper documentation that will need to be filled out and then signed by our doctors. If your child has an appointment before the start of school, bring the form along to be signed. Otherwise, the form can be mailed, faxed or dropped off at an FAA office. Our office staff will mail the form back to you and the average turnaround time is 3 days.
Know your school procedures
In addition to any paperwork that is required by the school, talk to the school administration and the school nurse to learn their emergency procedures. Check with the staff to make sure they understand how to use the epinephrine auto-injector or rescue inhaler. Ask where the medication is stored if not with your child. Kentucky and Indiana have both passed laws allowing students to carry and/or have access to epinephrine injectors. Students with asthma should also carry their inhalers on them. Lastly, double-check expiration dates on your child’s medication before the school year begins.
Talk to Teachers, Coaches and Bus Drivers
Talk to your child’s teacher, coaches, and even their bus driver to help them understand your child’s allergies. These staff are your front line of defense as they will be in daily contact with your child. When you communicate with teachers this will keep your child safer, and can help your child avoid problems with class projects and celebrations. Talk to your child’s coaches to make sure they understand what to do in case of an allergy or asthma-related emergency. Here at FAA we believe allergies and asthma should not limit any child if proper precautions are taken.
Talk to the Cafeteria Staff
If your child has food allergies, talk to the cafeteria staff to help them understand your child’s allergens. Most schools can provide an allergen-free lunch or breakfast for your child. However, due to the possibility of cross-contamination and their limited ability to control it, the best decision may be for your child to bring their food.
Review your asthma and/or allergy action plans with your child. These were developed by our doctors when your child was diagnosed with asthma or allergies. The start of the school year is a good time to refresh the rules and medications with your child. You can also give the school a copy of your allergy and asthma action plans to keep on hand. If your child is at risk of a severe allergic reaction then use a medic alert bracelet to help inform others of your child’s allergies. This would let staff who do not know your child, like a substitute teacher, know about an allergy.
Our allergists encourage asthma patients to be vigilant with their asthma monitoring and to follow their asthma care plan. This is especially important during the first month of school. Allergens are increasing and due to the return students all at once, there is a common cold epidemic. Data shows a marked increase in emergency room visits and hospitalizations for asthma 12-14 days after school starts. People are very busy during this time of year, making it easy to forget medications, however, sticking to your asthma care plan will help prevent any emergencies.
This can be anything from volunteering in the classroom to getting involved in the PTA. As you become more familiar with your child’s surroundings and the school community, this will help you feel safer and more confident when sending your child to school. This also creates good relationships with the school staff that will keep your child safer.
Asthma itself accounts for 10.5 million missed days of school annually. Being prepared will give you peace of mind when sending your child to school, and help them stay in school, keeping them on track with their education. If you believe your child’s asthma or allergies are not controlled, schedule an appointment with one of our board-certified allergist and asthma specialist today.