This year, adults and children across the country are celebrating National Pack Your Lunch Day on March 10. The purpose, of course, is to encourage people to take their lunch wherever they are spending the day. But in schools, students packing their own lunches can also carry some risk, because one child’s sandwich could be another child’s life-threatening reaction due to severe allergies that cause anaphylactic shock reactions.
The best treatment for anaphylactic allergic reactions is an epi-pen (epinephrine pen). Here, CM Regent shares some best practices for administering an epi-pen:
Establish a policy. Your school district or school should have a written policy identifying which staff members are authorized to use an epinephrine auto-injector and deliver first aid. Make sure all staff members are aware of the policy and know which personnel in their building are authorized.
Mandate training for epinephrine administration. Any staff member who will be storing and using epinephrine should undergo training at least every two years.
Train employees on the signs of allergic reactions. Although not everyone in your school will be administering epinephrine, they all should know when a child or fellow staff member needs emergency treatment. Teach them the signs and symptoms of allergic reactions: a rash with hives, itching, throat swelling/tightness, difficulty swallowing or irregular heartbeat.
Require written authorization. The parent or guardian of any child who has a known allergy should sign a document authorizing school staff to administer first aid or epinephrine.
Log supplies in your building. Designated personnel, such as a building nurse or health aide, should document the location of each auto-injector. They should also keep a careful record of when the medication is used, and when they need to dispose of it because it has expired.
Remember that food allergies are not the only dangerous allergies. While children and adults with nut and other food allergies are the most common recipients of epinephrine auto-injections, people who have allergies to stinging insects are also in danger. For these children and staff, periodically survey areas such as playground equipment or recessed exterior door grabs for the presence of stinging insect nests that may be disturbed by students or staff. If you find such a nest, restrict access to the area until you have been able to remove the hazard.
As students and staff bring their lunches to school, take special care for those who have life-threatening allergies, cleaning tables thoroughly.