Q: My son has just started 1st grade and needs to take the school bus. He has allergies to peanuts and soy. What main precautions should be taken to ensure the three-mile trip is safe?
Dr. Sicherer: The primary goal is to prevent him from eating the allergens, and having a plan in the event of an allergic reaction.
Teach your son not to share foods with other children, and not to take food from an adult unless you have told him the adult knows what is safe. He should know to tell an adult if he does not feel well, and wearing medical identification jewelry is also recommended.
The bus driver, transportation director and school should have a communication plan so the responsible adults are aware that he has food allergies. You may want him to sit at the front of the bus for extra supervision.
Unless another child has to eat for medical reasons, it can be good practice to enforce a rule of “no eating” and no food parties on the bus. The bus driver should have a cell phone, understand the signs of an allergic reaction, and know to contact 911, and others, in the event of an emergency.
If the school thinks your child is having allergic symptoms or ate the wrong food, they should not put him on the bus.
With the above precautions and communication, it should be very unlikely for him to have an allergic reaction on the bus.
Dr. Scott Sicherer is a practicing allergist, clinical researcher and professor of pediatrics. He is Director of the Jaffe Food Allergy Institute and Chief of Pediatric Allergy and Immunology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York. He’s also the author of Food Allergies: A Complete Guide for Eating When Your Life Depends On It.Submit a Question View all posts by this medical expert.