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5 Ways to Prepare for an Allergy Emergency

Quick action will help your child during a serious allergic reaction. 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 child with a serious allergy:

  1. If your doctor prescribed an epinephrine injector (with two devices) 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. Work with the school to decide where to store the injector and how your child can get it quickly, if needed.
  2. Know the signs of a serious reaction — such as trouble breathing, rash, swelling, vomiting, belly pain, diarrhea, and wheezing — and be ready to act quickly. Follow the instructions your doctor gave you. Teach your child and those who care for your child to do the same.
  3. Practice how to use the epinephrine injector often. 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.
  4. 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 go 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. Remember that antihistamines do not treat life-threatening symptoms and are not a replacement for epinephrine.
  5. Store the epinephrine injector according to the manufacturer's directions. Note its expiration date and get a new one before the one you have expires.
Date reviewed: August 2018