The weather is getting warmer. The days are getting longer. Summer is on the horizon and that brings with it some food allergy considerations that aren’t necessarily on our radar during the rest of the year.
Keep Your Cool
You know by now that you’ve got to keep any prescribed auto-injectors of epinephrine within reach at all times and use them as directed by the allergy action plan given to you by your allergist. What you may not realize is that your auto-injector should not be exposed to extreme temperatures. An occasional foray in your bag on a hot summer day isn’t necessarily an issue, but you do not want to leave your auto-injector in the glove compartment of your car. For one thing, it won’t be easily accessible if you need it. For another, the temperature of a vehicle sitting out in the sun on a hot summer day could exceed the range the device is designed for.
Likewise, you don’t want to store your auto-injectors in a refrigerated device or right up against ice packs in a cooler. You want to avoid extreme heat or cold. Some allergy families use Frio cooling cases designed for diabetic patients carrying insulin. These cases, and others like them, are designed to maintain a consistent cool, but not cold, temperature without ice packs. If you’re going to be outdoors for a stretch on a hot summer day, something like this might be worth considering.
Don’t Leave Home Without It
We know. We just covered this one (sort of) above, but it’s so very important that we want to say it again. Don’t leave home without your auto-injector. Don’t leave your auto-injector in a locker at the water park. Don’t leave it in a car. Don’t give it to someone else to carry while you run off in a different direction. That epinephrine needs to be within an arm’s reach of the allergic individual at all times. Remember, if someone is experiencing a life-threatening reaction, minutes matter. Be prepared to respond without delay.
Check Your Sunblock!
If you’re going to be out in the sun for any stretch of time, you’re hopefully slathering on a little sunblock to protect yourself from UV rays. Don’t forget food allergens can crop up in non-food places. Double check the labels of your sunscreen for allergens. Some may contain soy, nut oils, coconut, wheat or other ingredients. When you’re reaching for the right SPF coverage, just make sure it’s also free of your food allergens. Spokin put together a list of options with their allergy statements. As always, it’s best to double check the labels for yourself as manufacturing processes can change. This list, however, can be a good starting place to get you on your way.
Before Your Spray
Likewise, check your insect repellent. Check your lotions. Check all those things that you may slather on your skin to protect it or treat it on a warm summer day. Food allergens can be in non-edible items. Make a habit of reading a label on anything that will come in contact with your skin or that can be ingested.
Scout the Treats
You hear the familiar tinkle of the bells and music somewhere off in your neighborhood and you know, perhaps with a small sense of parental dread, that the ice cream truck is making its way up and down the blocks around you. Sure, grabbing something cold and sweet is one of those summer rites of passage kids (and adults!) enjoy. But for an allergy family, the truck can present a unique challenge.
A good business owner will work with you to review labels on various treats – even if the line begins to form behind you while you read labels until you find something safe. That process can take time and if you can’t find something safe, you’ve now got a disappointed allergic child who is falling a little harder into disappointment having gotten their hopes up. Before you just skip the truck all together, do a little reconnaissance.
Next time you’re in the grocery store, scan the packages of frozen treats that might appear on an ice cream truck to see what might be safe for your family. The next time the truck comes, you’ll have a starting point. If you know, for example, that the SpongeBob pop was safe for your child’s allergies when you saw the package at the store, ask the driver if you can check that label first. Yes, still explain her allergies. Still check the label. Always check those labels! You will at least, however, have a starting point on something that is likely to be safe. Then sit down on the lawn (coated in your allergy friendly bug spray) and delight in the way those pops seem to melt down your hand before you can finish them!