Grenade on the Playground

Imagine this scene with me: You are at the park with your toddler. It’s a gorgeous Houston day, 70s and sunny with a slight breeze. Your child is laughing as she runs, and you give chase. You turn a corner in the play structure and see an adorable preschooler, grinning ear to ear, big brown eyes, head full of ringlet curls, and then your eyes drop to his hands and you see a grenade, just as your toddler careens towards him. Your heart stops. What do you do?

I mean, you WANT to snatch your child up immediately or shout, “STOP!!!” but what if that startles the kid with the grenade or spurs your silly tot to run faster towards danger? It IS a grenade, but what are the odds that it is live? Or that the preschooler will pull the pin and drop it? Everything will probably be okay, right?

But rationalizing that conclusion doesn’t slow your heart rate or make you any more comfortable with there being a GRENADE on a PLAYGROUND.

Grenade on the Playground {Food Allergy Awareness Week} | Houston Moms Blog

It seems crazy, right? Who is going to let a preschooler have a grenade on a playground? As crazy as it seems, situations just like this one play out every day for the parents of children with food allergies. Though, the grenade isn’t an actual grenade; it’s food – allergens that can take the lives of children all across our nation {and world}. Because the grenade is not an actual grenade, people are much more careless with it, and it makes it even more dangerous.

The scene above happened to me and my toddler, but this grenade was a cup of milk. Was it live? Maybe, maybe not. It could have been a type of milk that wouldn’t kill her, but I couldn’t assume that. What were the odds that the preschooler would pull the pin and drop it? It had a lid, so maybe the odds were in our favor, but if he spilled it on her or sneezed a mouthful of milk her direction, we could have been headed to the emergency room in crisis. It isn’t just this one milk cup on one day; it is ice creams and cookies and peanut butter sandwiches and discarded candy wrappers and forgotten frappuccino cups and kids covered in sticky, drippy food allergens touching public park equipment – all kinds of things that seem totally innocuous to most people. But to us? Grenades, everywhere.

Grenade on the Playground {Food Allergy Awareness Week} | Houston Moms Blog

It isn’t something that most parents even think about, but for the parents of the 1 in 13 children that live with food allergies, it is something we must be constantly vigilant about. Every 3 minutes, a food allergy reaction sends someone to the emergency room. We live in fear of it being OUR kid. While there are over 170 foods that can trigger allergic reactions, the most prevalent and dangerous allergies are to the Top 8 {milk, egg, peanut, tree nuts, wheat, soy, fish, and crustacean shellfish}. The world can be a frightening place when so many innocuous items can be life-threatening. Everyone understands the risk of a real grenade in the hands of a child or left on the ground next to the slide, but the dangers are so much higher when the majority of parents don’t even understand that there is a risk.

I like to think that the majority of parents have a desire to keep children safe, even children that do not belong to them. It is why we share posts about extended rear-facing and childproofing. It’s why we feel that internal struggle when we see that our friend has her kids buckled into a carseat with a puffy coat on or has the chest strap down at the belly button level. We don’t just want our kids to be safe; we want ALL kids to be safe.

The first part in being able to keep kids safe is to know there is a risk in the first place. That’s the purpose behind this post, so people might realize there is a risk. Next time you are out in public, on a walk down your street or at the park, make a note of the items you see on the ground. Imagine how many of them might threaten the life of a child with food allergies and how quickly a curious tot could grab something that might end their life. It’s eye-opening.

Knowledge of a risk isn’t very helpful without practical steps to address it, so here is my suggestion: If you would like to help increase child safety in public spaces, you could choose to no longer bring Top 8 allergen containing foods into public spaces, especially spaces where food is optional and doesn’t even need to be an issue. I know it is great to have a snack or drink at the park, but there are SO MANY safe and yummy snacks out there. Oftentimes, these options are healthier anyway. {Win/win!} Enjoy Life makes all kinds of quick and easy treat options that are available at most grocery stores. Fruit/fruit rope/fruit leather/fruit snacks are awesome choices. On hot days, maybe choose fruit juice pops to bring along rather than chocolatey ice-cream sandwiches. Fill cups with water instead of milk, and it’ll even help you stay more hydrated on hot days!

If you aren’t ready to say goodbye to highly allergenic foods in public and do eat something that could be dangerous, please eat it away from the playground {where curious little ones may be more likely to encounter it}, and wipe down hands and faces after. Make sure trash ends up in the trash {or leaves with you}. Make sure to ask parents before sharing food with their children. Check in with teachers to find out if your child is sharing a classroom with a student with food allergens, so you can be mindful when making food choices for school. All of these little things work together to make one BIG thing, a safer environment for kids living in a risky world.

I know that my child’s food allergies are not your problem or responsibility. I am not asserting that they are. However, until this happened to us, I was totally unaware of these risks and would never have known how to help allergy parents keep their kids safe, even if I wanted to.

As part of Food Allergy Awareness Week, I’d just really like more people to see the world a little more like allergy parents do because I think that when we know better, we choose to DO better; and that’s good for everyone!

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Kyla was born in Alaska, but has lived in the Houston area most of her life. She met her husband Josh online when they were in middle school, and they married shortly after high school. They have three wonderful children, Nathaniel {April 2002}, Katie {February 2005}, and Josephine {April 2015}. Katie and Josie both have their own special medical issues and keep life at the Hebert house exciting every day! Katie has a metabolic disorder, suspected to be mitochondrial disease, and a host of other conditions that stem from that. Josephine was born with a congenital heart defect that was not diagnosed until she was almost 3 months old, and was later diagnosed with multiple life-threatening food allergies. In spite of the craziness at home, Kyla graduated from UHD in 2014 with a degree in psychology. She spends her days homeschooling Katie, caring for Josephine, trying to come up with allergy-safe meal plans, and occasionally ferrying Nathan to and from high school events. She enjoys writing, photography, listening to podcasts {mostly true crime}, binge-watching shows with her husband, and spending time with friends. You can keep up with their adventures at Life Is….



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