Allergies are Scary

Halloween in Halifax/Photo: Helen Earley

For parents of a child with a peanut allergy, Halloween can be a terrifying  time.  If you know someone with a peanut allergy, here are some tips to help them stay safe this Halloween Season.

1. Be Safe on the Streets

When trick-or-treating, carry your child’s epi-pen. Make a “no snacking” rule during trick or treating. Bring some handy wipes for cleaning hands, and don’t accept any candy that isn’t packaged.

2. Call the Factory

Treat-size candy may have different ingredients or may be made on different machinery than the same regular-size candy. Ingredients and factory locations and processes change from year to year.  Don’t listen to rumour. Phone the 1-800 number on the candy package, citing the UPC number of the candy. If in doubt, throw it out!

3. Have a Super Swap Party

Following trick or treating, return home to a “super swap” party, where your child can exchange his or her unsafe treats for better stuff.  This activity will also help your child manage his or her own allergy when faced with food choices outside the home. To dispose of unsafe treats, find a non-allergic neighbour and donate the unsafe candy to them. You’ll  definitely make a few new best friends!

4. Contact Your School

Familiarize yourself with the allergy policy at your school. The Halifax Regional School Board Policy on Life Threatening Allergies can be found here.  As a parent of a child with a life-threatening allergy at an HRSB school, you must:

  • inform the school of your child’s allergy and complete the Anaphylaxis Emergency Plan provided by the school annually.
  • provide a photo of your child for the purpose of posting and placing it on the emergency plan
  • notify the school immediately if any changes occur to the plan such as contact information, change in allergies or change in epinephrine dose
  •  provide a MedicAlert® bracelet or other means of medical identification for your child (not mandatory, but encouraged)
  • rovide your child with an up-to-date epi-pen(s). The epi-pen(s) must be clearly labeled.

In the weeks leading up to Halloween, contact your school’s principal directly, to remind him or her of your child’s allergy. Teachers are not always in the classroom during lunchtime, so ask the principal to remind lunch monitors, teaching assistants and parent volunteers that your child has an allergy.

Finally, ask the school whether they have provided  communication around allergies. Students should be reminded not to swap snacks and lunch items. A simple note in the newsletter or a  post on the school website will remind teachers and families that Halloween is a time for extra-vigilance.

5. Have Fun

Once you have taken the necessary precautions, Halloween can be a fun holiday for your family. Enjoy the “spirit” of the season by carving pumpkins, preparing an awesome costume, bobbing for apples, telling spooky stories, or watching a Halloween movie!

Have a Safe and Happy Halloween everyone!