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Keeping your students safe from food allergies in the classroom

From peanuts to wheat, there is an endless array of foods children could be allergic to in your classroom. The Food Allergy Research & Education, Inc. reported that 15 percent of school children with allergies have had reactions at school. Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 1 out of every 4 students who suffered from a severe allergic reaction at school was not previously diagnosed with a food allergy.

What this means is that many teachers don't truly know what foods their students could have adverse reactions to. As a result, educators must work with school administrators and parents to know how best to support their students with allergies and exercise caution about those who may not yet be officially diagnosed. Here are a few ways you can keep your students safe in your classroom:

1. Know how to recognize the symptoms of an allergic reaction
The CDC explains that some of the common symptoms of an allergic reaction are nausea, congestion, wheezing, dizziness, difficulty breathing, swollen lips, confusion, fainting, and trouble swallowing. While these symptoms are common, if you work with young children, they may find it difficult to describe how they are feeling. These children might say that it feels like something is poking their tongue, that their mouth itches, that there is something stuck in their throat, or that their lips feel weird.

2. Keep you classroom allergen-free or restricted from food
A great way to ensure that your students don't suffer from a surprise allergy attack is to not allow food in your classroom. Instead of handing out candy and treats, consider using small toys, or dance parties as rewards. Even if you do have food for holiday parties or birthdays, poll each of your students' parents to make sure that they are allergen free and OK to hand out.

3. Prepare for emergency scenarios
While you certainly don't expect the worst to happen, you do need to be prepared for any potential emergency allergy situation. Work with your school's nurse or administrator to create an action plan about how you should act if a child has an allergic reaction. For students who already have known allergies, you can speak with their parents to know how to manage their medication or what numbers to call in a serious situation.

At ProSolutions Training, we offer plenty of online child care courses and online social service training, such as "Food Allergies: Recognizing Allergic Reactions and Meal Planning in the Child Care Setting," for interested professionals who want to gain more knowledge about their field. Contact us today to learn more about our services.