The recent death of a 7-year-old girl highlights the very real danger of severe food allergies. If you or a family member has a food allergy, now is the time to consider whether you are doing everything you can to prevent a reaction, and whether the proper precautions have been taken to ensure that prompt treatment is received if a reaction does occur.

According to doctors who spoke withNBC Washington,the best protection is preparation. Dr. Jackie Eghrari-Sabet, of Maryland’s Family Allergy & Asthma Care, reminds parents to get a proper diagnosis if they think their child has a food allergy. “You need a correct diagnosis to tell all the people who are going to be around your child that this is a life-threatening allergy” she explains.

Then, create a treatment plan so that everyone who cares for your child will know what to do in an emergency. Dr. Eghrari-Sabet explained “When the child appears to be having a reaction, you don’t wait to see what will happen this time. That time could be your last time. Use that EpiPen immediately.”

Don’t forget to make sure your child has access to an EpiPen at home, at daycare, at school, and anywhere else they may be. “Remember, it doesn’t do you any good if you have an EpiPen and you need it and it’s at home in your medicine cabinet” she cautioned. Over-the-counter medications like Benadryl are not enough to stop a life-threatening reaction. Talk to your child’s school about their requirements; you may need to provide an EpiPen along with a prescription, and it may need to be kept in the school nurse’s office rather than in your child’s backpack.

Finally, make sure that your child’s teacher and other school personnel, along with family members who spend significant time with your child, know how to spot the signs of a reaction and how to use the EpiPen correctly.

Do you have any tips to share for preparing to treat an allergic reaction?

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