Despite your trouble and toil, the risk that you or your child will be exposed to a food allergen is always there. After all, no amount of labeling, forbidding of certain foods in your house, or sanitizing shared spaces can prevent a child who had a peanut butter cracker from touching your peanut-allergic kid during their soccer game. That’s why it’s so important to be prepared to treat an allergic reaction if one occurs. Create several of these kits, and keep one at home, at work, and in your gym locker. If your child is the one with the food allergies, leave a kit with his teacher, school administrators, babysitters, and at any location he visits fairly frequently. Here, a list of what should be in your kit and important reminders about using them.

What’s in a Kit

Epinephrine

WHAT IT DOES: For people with severe allergies, a shot of this hormone as soon as an allergic reaction begins can mean the difference between life and death. Keep at least one epinephrine auto-injector, such as Auvi-Q or EpiPen, in your emergency kit. Make a note of expiration dates, and replace them before they expire and are no longer effective. The wrong time to find out your medicine has expired is while you’re having a severe allergic reaction. (1, 2)

REMEMBER: Do not leave epinephrine in your car or anywhere that can get very hot or cold. The fluctuations in temperature may degrade the shot and make it less effective. Also, keep instructions on administering the epinephrine shot with the kit so you can show someone who is assisting you during the allergic episode how to administer the medicine to you. Tell your friends, family members, and co-workers where you store your kits. In the event of an allergic reaction, they need to be able to find the kit quickly. (1, 2)

IMPORTANT: Laws regarding who can store and administer epinephrine vary from state to state. Check with your workplace and your child’s school before having one in your kit. Some schools allow epinephrine to be stored only if the school employs a full-time medical professional. (1, 2)

Inhaler

WHAT IT DOES: Keep an inhaler in your kits if you experience severe breathing problems or asthma-like symptoms during an allergic reaction. As you will for an epinephrine auto-injector, note your inhalers’ expiration dates, and replace them before they expire.

REMEMBER: Use an inhaler only if your doctor prescribes one to you; never use another person’s inhaler. (1) 

Liquid antihistamines

WHAT IT DOES: Antihistamine medicines, such as Benadryl, target histamines or chemicals your body produces during an allergic reaction. Antihistamines can slow down or stop the allergic episode if taken quickly enough. If you do not have an epinephrine auto-injector or cannot administer the injection, taking a dose of liquid antihistamine may save your life. The few minutes you’ll gain as the medicine slows down your body’s response can make a big difference when you’re trying to get to an emergency room.

REMEMBER: Antihistamines in pill form do work, but liquid antihistamines act much faster. Chewable antihistamines are faster to respond, too. Replace this medicine before it expires and becomes ineffective. (1)

Medical Information

WHAT IT DOES: Create a medical information sheet for each of your allergy kits. Be sure the following information is included: what you’re allergic to, medicines that you take, your allergy response plan (what medicines you should be given), a list of emergency contacts and their phone numbers, your health insurance information, and your doctor’s office phone number.

REMEMBER: Update your information as it changes. Outdated information may slow down your treatment in the event of an allergic episode.