Dust mites, pet and animal dander, pollen, and insect stings are all environmental allergens that frequent early childhood programs. So, how can we reduce children’s exposure to environmental allergies in child care?
Since many children experience their first allergic reaction in a child care or school setting, it is critical that we understand what to look for and how to prevent allergic reactions from happening. In today’s highlight, we discuss four of the top environmental allergens in child care. Taken from our course, Understanding and Managing Allergies in Child Care, these tips will help you minimize children’s exposure to environmental allergens.
Top Environmental Allergens in Child Care:
1. Dust Mites
These are microscopic bugs who love to thrive in warm, humid environments, such as in bedding, carpeting, and furniture. Prevent dust mite exposure by cleaning your carpets regularly. Use cleaning products that remove allergens. You’ll want to avoid any unnecessary chemicals and fragrances. Your state’s regulations can help you find allergen-safe cleaning products.
2. Pet Hair and Dander
Fur and dander can be brought into the facility by children who have pets at home. The more children in your care who have a dog, cat, or some other animal, the more likely you’ll have a case of pet-related allergen exposure. Fur and dander float in the air and accumulate on the carpet, upholstered furniture, and even on human hair! Invest in some air purifiers and HEPA/high-efficiency vacuum cleaners. They’ll get those pesky allergens out of your air and carpeting. Frequently mopping and laundering will also help to minimize this exposure risk.
3. Plant, Tree, and Grass Pollen
Outdoor play is essential to children, allowing them to be creative, social, and physically active, but it makes running into pollen unavoidable. This is especially true during pollen seasons when pollen density is highest. These seasons vary with plant type and almost cover the whole year, with tree pollen season lasting from March to May, grass pollen season lasting from May to July, and ragweed season lasting from August to early winter. Tree pollen is especially troublesome since it is made up of finer particles than grass and plant pollens. The wind can blow it across miles, spreading it through the air.
Although you can’t control the outdoors, you can prepare treatment plans for children’s allergic reactions. You might administer antihistamines, decongestants, and nasal sprays to relieve them. Always follow your state regulations when administering medications.
You can also minimize exposure by researching the plants in your community and the time of day when their pollens are most active. Schedule outdoor play around these times. Monitor your community’s pollen counts by visiting the National Allergy Bureau’s statistics website.
4. Bee and Other Insect Stings
While playing among the flowers and grass, children may bump into bees and insects. Instruct children to be cautious around these areas. Bee and insect stingers can inject venom into the children’s skin, causing an allergic reaction. For some highly sensitive children, anaphylaxis may occur. Approximately every 4 in 1,000 children react severely to bee stings. If a child breaks out in hives after a sting, be ready to administer the right medications. Have a staff member on hand who is approved to administer epinephrine to prevent anaphylaxis.
It is important to maintain the confidentiality of children in your care who have allergies. However, some states require that information regarding children’s allergies be posted in child care facilities. Many states require that certain details of children’s allergies be prominently posted in child care centers where employees, parents, and others may easily view them. You must be familiar with and follow your state’s rules regarding the posting of any allergy-related information. Within the limits of such rules, respect children’s and families’ privacy. One way to do this is to post children’s allergy information with a cover sheet on top, so that it is readily available without being visible to people walking by. These lists should be posted wherever children go during the day, including classrooms, vehicles, and playgrounds. Additionally, place them in staff rooms, first aid kits, and field trip materials.
Take Understanding and Managing Allergies in Child Care to learn more!
After taking this Care Course, you will know how to be prepared for both food and non-food allergies, identify the symptoms of both mild and severe allergic reactions in a child, avoid and minimize exposure, and respond appropriately to a child’s severe allergic reaction. Be prepared for children’s allergies and outdoor play!
Please let us know how we can be of additional assistance! Call us: 1-800-685-7610, Monday through Friday, 9-5 ET, or email us days, evenings and weekends: info@CareCourses.com. We’re here to help!