Practice Makes Perfect: Food Allergy Emergency Response Training

Although awareness of food allergies is increasing, it is important to periodically convene as a community to review the signs and symptoms of a severe reaction, understand when and how to use an epinephrine auto-injector (EAI), and most importantly, practice using EAIs to ensure that you are ready to respond.

Last week my team and I had the privilege of connecting with over 80 community members, including 45 children, to discuss how to best manage an anaphylaxis emergency and practice using EAI trainers.  A group of engaged moms organized the training alongside providing dinner and space for dodgeball as a fun way to help educate their children’s friends on how to respond in a food allergy emergency. 

As many of you know, severe reactions like anaphylaxis often occur where children live, learn, and play – many times outside the home and can be caused by food, venom, latex, and medication. While a person may be allergic to any type of food, the most common food allergens are: milk, egg, peanuts, tree nuts, finfish, shellfish, soy, and wheat.   

Common signs and symptoms discussed at the training included: shortness of breath, itchy skin and hives, vomiting, swelling of lips or tongue, headache, loss of consciousness, and dizziness.  In short, a severe reaction is considered when a person is showing signs from more than one organ system.

To ensure proper management, especially in case of an accidental ingestion, it is important for your child and their peers to know when and how to use an EAI. It is essential that the person with the life-threatening allergy carry two EAIs everywhere, every day.

Once a severe reaction is identified, it is important to administer epinephrine as soon as possible.  To effectively administer an EAI, you’ll want to remember 5 simple steps:

1.     Remove the safety cap or needle covering.

2.     Inject the epinephrine into the outer thigh until you hear a click. The device will go through clothing.

3.     Hold for 3 seconds.

4.     Remove the device and massage the area for 10 seconds.

5.     Call 911 and person’s emergency contacts.

For more information on signs and symptoms and how to best respond during a food allergy emergency, please check out our videos and educational materials designed for children, adolescents, and young adults: