School Safety Commentary - Controlling a parent's exposure to risks posed by sending treats to school

Today, we discuss peanut allergies and what risks parents are exposed to when sending treats to school. You may think this is something “the other guy” faces but never a problem you will face. Within the last month I’ve been contacted about this very situation and the “thousands of dollars of medical treatment” the child’s parents faced to treat the affected child. The parents of the child who brought the snacks contacted me about their liability. In this situation it was a grandparent who baked the snack, gave it to the child to take to school for treat time. The child’s parents were not aware the grandmother had baked the snack with peanuts. This situation is a not far fetched and could happen to you. These parents, nice people and responsible parents, live in an apartment and did not have traditional premise liability insurance coverage to cover any costs they may have been liable to pay. Understandably they were concerned with their own liability. And rightly so. Grandmother should also be concerned and perhaps her homeowner’s insurance policy would provide some coverage. The school, see Megan’s article from today, should have insurance in place to cover their obligations to parents and students.

A peanut allergy isn’t the only risk to be concerned. Diabetics pose risks as well with sugar treats.

So what should you as a parent do to protect yourself and your child from the risks of allergies with other students?

1.      Exercise tight controls over what treats are sent to school.

2.      When sending treats to school include a list of the ingredients.

3.      At the beginning of the school year contact your insurance agent to determine if you have coverage for this type of risk.

4.      If your child has any condition that poses a health risk with consuming treats, advise the teacher and administration office along with the school nurse. Do it in writing and repeat it the second semester. Fully explain the condition and how it is treated.

5.      Educate the affected child about what he or she can and can not eat. Advise them if they are offered a treat without a list of ingredients to just say “No.”

No one wishes this on anyone, nor do we as parents want to deal with any of this. But this is a real risk that you as parents need to address in a very direct and forthright manner.

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