Unfortunately, you can’t always prevent anaphylaxis, and a day may come when you or your child needs to use their epinephrine auto-injector.
Epinephrine saves lives when it is used properly and in a timely manner. That said, once you or your child has been prescribed an epinephrine auto-injector, you still need to be active and consistent with it in order to stay safe.
Be active by checking your auto-injectors regularly, staying on top of your refills, and avoiding known allergens. Be consistent by doing these things routinely, because anaphylaxis usually happens unexpectedly.
Stay prepared for an anaphylactic event by following these safety tips:
- Always carry your epinephrine injector with you or ensure that your child keeps theirs on them at all times.
- Many schools require that EpiPens be kept with the nurse, in the classroom, or at the front desk. But if possible, children should keep their EpiPen on their person throughout the school day. If they play sports, the EpiPen should be kept in a bag on the sidelines.
- You or your child should also keep a spare epinephrine injector close by as well. Keep a backup where you or your child can quickly access it in case the first EpiPen malfunctions or a second dose is needed.
- The most common cause of death during an allergic reaction is waiting too long to administer epinephrine or not having the auto-injector with you. Have an action plan in place. If you are unsure about when to use your EpiPen, talk to your healthcare provider.
- Auto-injectors must be kept at room temperature. Do not keep it in your refrigerator, or in your car on an especially hot or cold day.
- Check your auto-injectors regularly. The liquid inside of them should be clear. If they are cloudy, discolored, or have floating specks, they need to be replaced.
- Check the expiration date on all your auto-injectors. Set a notification in your phone or write the expiration date in your calendar so that you can have them replaced before they expire.
- Children who have had a severe allergic reaction should wear a medical ID bracelet or necklace, which you can buy at most pharmacies.
- Each EpiPen comes with a Trainer auto-injector that contains no needle or medication. Use it to practice and encourage your child to practice too.
- Last but not least, avoid known allergens as much as possible. Teach your children about the dangers of those allergens. Make sure their teachers, coaches, and other caretakers are informed, and encourage your child to speak up about their allergies whenever they feel they are at risk.