School Safety - Peanut allergies and school treats - Parent liability
It is a well-known fact that peanut allergies are one of the most severe allergies an individual can have. In fact, food allergies are the leading cause of anaphylaxis and are responsible for between 150-200 non-hospital deaths each year.
Sufferers of such allergies must constantly be aware of their surroundings; they need to watch what they eat, what they touch, and even what their food touches. Seems excessive, I know, but so are the symptoms of such an allergy, which differ from the normal sneezy, stuffy allergies most of us have. Nut allergies are known to interrupt respiratory processes and can implicate other serious health problems as well.
The mast majority of us have been around (or at least heard of an incident) when someone has an allergic reaction to a nut. It’s terrifying! What’s scarier is that the number of children with peanut allergies is increasing. In these cases, parents must educate their children on how to avoid allergic reactions and what to do in the event that one occurs.
But what happens when such an event occurs on school premises? Who’s responsible for the situation that ensues: is the school liable for using peanuts (or a by-product) when serving the students, or is the parent responsible for not taking the necessary steps to ensure that their child does not encounter the deadly substance under any circumstances?
This is a tough one, and (as always) it’s dependent on the circumstances. First and foremost, the allergy should be known by both the student and the faculty. The more people who know about an allergy, the less likely an incident is to occur. That said, every school should be equipped with at least one staff member who is knowledgeable in how to treat the allergy. Because peanut allergies are common, it’s preferable to have as many individuals as possible not only aware of the allergy, but also knowledgeable when it comes to its symptoms and treatments.
It’s also important for both the school staff and the parents to take all steps possible to prevent such a reaction. However, in the event that it does occur, there should always be an emergency treatment plan.
Children with a nut allergy should always carry a shot of epinephrine (which is commonly used to overcome the results of an allergic reaction) and an antihistamine; similarly, all schools should carry a few of each. Though school cafeterias should always offer alternate options to foods containing peanuts (or processed on the same equipment), parents should also make efforts to send a lunch for the child so as to ensure the foods do not contain traces of peanuts.
As highlighted, nut allergies are severe. However, they are not so severe that they should limit a child’s ability to live normally. When it comes right down to it, allergic reactions to such foods can easily be avoided by paying attention and informing all parties of the allergy.
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