With the holiday season quickly approaching, two things are certain: families will come together and feasts will be superfluous. With food-focused holidays on the horizon, we must also remember to take culinary caution. Red Sneakers for Oakley, founded by the Debbs family in memory of their son, Oakley, who died of a severe allergic reaction to nuts last November, is urging families to take the necessary precautions to protect themselves and their loved ones from the avoidable dangers of food allergies. In an attempt to raise awareness of the dangers imposed by allergens, Red Sneakers for Oakley has prepared 10 Tips to help keep families safe:
1. Always ask.
When preparing food for multiple guests, always ask if anyone has a food allergy and be mindful of the ingredients you use in preparation.
2. Call ahead
If going over to someone else’s house for dinner or other gatherings, be sure to inform the hosts of your food allergies. They could ensure a safe environment before you arrive and avoid the awkward rush to put something away.
3. Don’t use and reuse.
Food allergens can be spread through kitchen utensils. Don’t use the same serving spoon you use for the pecan pie for the nut-free pumpkin pie. Avoid cross-contamination.
4. Check gifts closely.
Well-meaning relatives may bring food items to your home or send gift baskets. Ask about ingredients, and look closely at labels.
5. Fly safely.
If flying to see relatives, check with your airline about their food allergy protocols and policies.
6. Learn the language.
If traveling overseas, learn how to say your allergy in that country’s language. Make flash cards with written warnings.
7. Speak up.
Be sure to tell your friends and family about your food allergies and what they need to do in case you have a reaction. Have an emergency action plan.
8. Never leave home without it.
Make sure you always have an epinephrine injector on hand in the event of allergen exposure. Better yet, make it two.
9. Know the symptoms.
Allergic reactions can range from hives to nausea to trouble breathing. When more than one internal system is involved, act fast.
10. Inject first, then call 911.
If you suspect anaphylaxis, use your epinephrine auto-injector. Then, call 911.