Airway, Breathing and Lung Conditions
Five Ways to Prepare for an Allergy Emergency
Quick action will help your child during a serious allergic reaction. Kind of like a fire drill, it's smart to occasionally review the instructions your doctor gave you and run through the steps you would take in an emergency.
Here's a checklist for any parent of a seriously allergic child:
- If your doctor has prescribed an epinephrine injector for emergencies, make sure it is always with your child or with an adult who is in charge of your child: at school, at a birthday party, on vacation — everywhere. Work with the school to decide where the injector will be stored and how your child will get it quickly, if needed.
- Know the signs of a serious reaction, such as difficulty breathing and wheezing, and be ready to act quickly. Follow the instructions your doctor has given you. Teach your child and those who care for your child to do the same.
- Regularly practice how to use the epinephrine injector, so you don't forget. Are there caps to remove? Which end rests on the skin? Where on the body is the injection site? How do you hold the syringe and release the medicine? Ask for a demonstration at your doctor's office. Visit the manufacturer's website to get detailed instructions. Manufacturers also may supply a trainer syringe that is not loaded with epinephrine, so you can practice all the steps safely. If your child is in charge of carrying the injector, make sure he or she practices, too.
- If your child has a reaction and needs the epinephrine injector, give it right away. Have someone call 911 while you are giving the injection. If you are alone, call 911 after giving the injection or get to the nearest emergency room as soon as possible. Your child may have a second wave of symptoms. Take the used epinephrine syringe to the hospital with you.
- Store the epinephrine injector according to the manufacturer's directions. Note its expiration date and get a new one when the one you have expires.
Reviewed by: Steven Dowshen, MD
Date reviewed: July 2015