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Nut allergy awareness blogger and mum of two Louise Jones knows all about holidaying with a loved one with a nut allergy. Louise’s son was diagnosed with a severe nut allergy as a toddler and the experience inspired the Cheshire mum to set up her own blog, www.nutmums.com
Louise has been providing information and support for parents of nut-allergic children since 2013. Here, she shares her thoughts and tips on holidaying with a nut allergy sufferer.
As any parent knows, holidaying with small children requires a lot of organisation. Holidaying with a food allergic child requires organisation and then some!
Prior to taking a child with a severe nut allergy on holiday in the UK, you would be wise to look up your nearest supermarket, chemist and hospital and research safe local restaurants in advance. Holidaying abroad requires even more preparation.
You need to make arrangements with the airline, to keep the flight as nut safe as possible.
A 2013 US study identified various safeguarding measures a nut allergic passenger could take, which would reduce the risk of a reaction mid-flight. Measures included not using the plane’s pillows or blankets and asking for a nut-free buffer zone (where passengers within a certain number of rows do not eat nut products during the flight).
When we travelled to Portugal last year, my approach was to confirm with the airline by email that:
Even taking these precautions, there is no guarantee the flight will be 100% nut-free. However, they helped me have peace of mind that I had controlled the risk as much as I could.
It's a good idea to have a spare set of EpiPens, in case the first set is used (or lost) during the holiday.
If you are going somewhere hot or very cold, have you got an insulated EpiPen case to carry them in?
You may also need a doctor's note, explaining the need for EpiPens, to show security staff at the airport.
If you are travelling to a non-English speaking country, could you explain your child's allergy to a restaurant manager? If your child suffered anaphylaxis, do you know the emergency number to ring and enough of the local language to summon an ambulance? This is where translation cards are invaluable.
You can order translation cards from a professional provider (such as Allergy UK). They describe your child’s allergy in the local language and detail how to describe an anaphylaxis emergency. Make sure the whole family has a few copies just in case and also, practice saying the phrase/condition in the local language.
Keep a set in your hotel room too – next to the phone in case of an emergency.
It pays to research the potential restaurant options in your resort online, in advance.
I emailed our hotel prior to departure. We set our expectations at eating in for the entire holiday, so were very pleasantly surprised when the hotel manager talked us through the safe food options on arrival.
As well as knowing how to call an ambulance, it's reassuring to know the location of the nearest hospital, chemist or doctor. You can research this in advance and could keep a map handy with each location marked.