By Erin Malawer
Our family loves wintertime and winter sports – skiing, sledding, ice skating, you name it. My son has multiple food allergies, so we always carry epinephrine auto-injectors with us, even in the cold, and we make sure they are safe and secure.
Epinephrine must be kept at room temperature in order for the medication to remain effective. When you plan to go outside in the cold, carry your auto-injectors in the inside pocket of your winter coat.
If you have no interior pockets, or they’re not big enough, get creative. We made a holder for our epinephrine auto-injectors using a pencil case and a lanyard – anything to keep the epinephrine close and at the correct temperature.
When my son was old enough, my husband – an avid skier – was excited to get him on the ski slopes. But the idea of managing his food allergies while on a ski vacation seemed challenging.
Who could I track down to get ingredient information for food in the ski lodge cafeteria? How was I going to store and easily access snacks and lunches that were safe for my son? Could I rely on instructors at the ski school to look out for him and his food allergies?
During recent ski trips, we found food service employees were knowledgeable about food allergies. Several of my son’s ski instructors had food allergies themselves – which made them cooler in my son’s eyes – and they needed no introduction to epinephrine auto-injectors.
The staff walked him through the cafeteria lines, read ingredient lists, and helped him find safe food alternatives – all at 10,000 feet.
1. Call ahead. Ski lodge operations may seem relaxed, but most do take food allergies seriously. One food services manager outlined the ski lodge offerings for us, looked up food suppliers and tracked down ingredients. At ski school, ask about the lunch routine and what kinds of food are available to students. Are they given snacks? Do they have free choice in the cafeteria?
2. Show up for the first ski school class early with your epinephrine auto-injectors and Anaphylaxis Action Plan. Talk with the instructors about your child’s food allergies, and teach them when and how to use an epinephrine auto-injector. Remind them to store it in an inside jacket pocket to keep it close to room temperature.
3. Consider meeting up with your child’s ski school class for lunch to help your child navigate the cafeteria line. But don’t expect to eat with them! Skiing creates fast friendships and your child will have more fun hanging out with ski buddies.
Erin Malawer is the founder of AllergyStrong, an organization dedicated to supporting low-income families living with food allergies. Read her blog at shmallergy.wordpress.com.