What do you think the scariest part of Halloween is? The costumes? Or the haunted houses? Or possibly the prospect of having to clean up your front yard after the neighbor kids toilet paper everything?
While all of these things are scary in their own right, they pale in comparison to the fear of navigating Halloween with a peanut allergy... or a child with a peanut allergy. The 3 million people in the United States that suffer from peanut allergies must always have their guard up, but on Halloween, that restlessness reaches its peak.
Here are four things you can do to make Halloween a little safer, and a lot more enjoyable, for trick-or-treaters with peanut allergies.
1. Understand Peanut Allergies
There is a lot to know when it comes to peanut allergies. What are the symptoms of someone going into anaphylactic shock? Can someone have an attack if there is peanut dust in the air? Can my organization be liable if someone has an attack on premises? How do you treat someone that might be experiencing a peanut allergy attack?
I encourage you to take a look at our Peanut Allergy Precautions article to learn more about peanut allergies.
2. Emphasize the Other Aspects of Halloween
If your organization has events planned to celebrate Halloween you may want to think about how much of an emphasis is being placed on trick-or-treating and candy. By emphasizing other aspects of Halloween like costume parties and pumpkin carving contests, peanut allergy sufferers will feel more included in the celebration, and, more importantly, young kids with allergies will have other distractions that prevent them from taking unnecessary dietary risks. After all, even the most disciplined child with peanut allergies would be tempted if all of their friends spent the whole day munching on Snickers bars and Reeses peanut butter cups.
3. Avoid Homemade Foods
Homemade baked goods are often a staple of office parties and community get togethers. Unfortunately, these items can be extremely dangerous for peanut allergy sufferers... especially young kids. They may ask, "Does this have peanuts in it?", and it is possible the recipe didn't call for any peanuts. But what if the rolling pin used had peanut residue on it? Or what if one of the ingredients was prepared in a factory somewhere that also handles nuts?
Completely preventing homemade foods may be difficult, so as a backup, efforts should be made to ensure peanut allergy sufferers don't take any unnecessary risks. Instruct bake sale coordinators or office staff to make no guarantees regarding the ingredients of homemade foods. If you're interested, you can read more about one mom's trepidation when it comes to her child eating homemade food.
4. Offer a Candy Swap for Kids
This idea was borrowed from the Nut-Free Mom Blog mentioned above. On Halloween she swaps her child's peanut-filled treats with other goodies like chapstick, stickers, safe candy, etc. This could make for an incredible event for a youth-focused organization like a YMCA or Boys and Girls Club.
Kids could show up a few days after Halloween and swap their candy for little toys and prizes. Something tells me local dentists would love to get involved!