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Move-In Ready: Parent/Caregiver Checklist
It is happening! Get out the tissue box and be proud. Your child’s big day is almost here.
Pre-Planning for Move-In Day
Re-Confirm Accommodations (2-3 weeks before arrival)
- Check all emails and documents from your college to confirm you have answered any requests and completed all required forms. Remind your student to send a quick email or call to their school contact to confirm that accommodations are in place for their housing preferences and dining services plans.
- Do a quick check-in with dining services staff to let them know what day your student will arrive on campus.
- NOTE: Athletes often arrive on campus a few weeks earlier than the regular move-in dates. If your student is an athlete, ask if they will be required to arrive early and what food services will be offered at that time. Some college’s food services are not fully operational or operate during limited hours during this early move-in window.
Book Your Hotel ASAP
- If you plan to spend the night before or after dropping off your student, book your hotel room(s) early. Hotels close to colleges book up quickly. Rates at these hotels are often higher on high-traffic dates, so check accommodations a few minutes farther out from campus, which may be more affordable and may offer a kitchen or kitchenette.
- Reduce stress by pre-planning your meals. Local restaurants might be packed; make a reservation if possible!
- Research safe restaurants and a few local grocery stores.
Medical Needs and Epinephrine Auto-injectors
- Fill all prescriptions for rescue meds and other medications.
- Ensure your student knows how to refill their medications and has their medical insurance card handy.
- Locate a local pharmacy or pharmacy on campus and make sure your student’s information is in place for necessary refills.
- Create a small “medicine cabinet” with your student containing backup rescue medications, maintenance medications, and over-the-counter medications to combat colds, flu, fevers, or stomach issues. Do not forget items for cuts or accidents.
- Pack tweezers and you will be your child’s hero. These are hot commodities at college.
- Medical Identification jewelry speaks for your student in the event they are not able to communicate. Emergency responders are trained to look for medical IDs. Various ID products offer contact data that helps EMS learn about your student's health, gain access to their medical information, and offers emergency contact notification.
- Although wearing a medical bracelet or necklace may not be your student's first choice, it will be one that everyone might be grateful for in the event of a medical emergency.
- There are many varieties and styles available. Medic Alert has partnered with FAACT to offer a 20% discount for new subscriptions. Use code FAACT20. NOTE: Medic Alert offers subscription service options, which includes emergency contact notification.
- Speak with your student regarding the dorm room location of their epinephrine auto-injectors.
- Many students hang their medicine bag on a hook by the door and carry two epinephrine auto-injectors in their backpacks. It is critical to have one set visible or known to others in their dorm. They should always carry two epinephrine auto-injectors with them when they leave their dorm room (even without a backpack).
- Make sure your student keeps a printed Allergy & Anaphylaxis Emergency Plan with the dorm room rescue medications in case of emergency.
- Discuss how your student will carry their epinephrine auto-injectors.
- Studies have shown that adolescents and young adults participate in risk-taking behaviors, including not carrying epinephrine with them at all times (39% in one study). Thirty-eight percent did not have epinephrine with them during their most recent reactions.
- Review the grave importance of carrying rescue meds. Brainstorm about ways to carry these medications comfortably and offer your child support.
Dining Services and Eating
- Before your child arrives on campus, help them set up a safe-eating zone in their dorm room.
- Stock up on shelf-stable bars, snacks, and proteins to store in their dorm room.
- Pack a microwavable plate with a lid/cover and small cooking-related supplies for reheating or eating in their dorm room.
- If your child will have a roommate, make sure they have talked with them about what snacks are safe to have in their room.
- Before your child arrives on campus, reach out to the dining services staff who will be managing your child’s food allergy to introduce yourself and your child.
- After your child arrives on campus, have them drop by the dining facilities they plan to use – before mealtime, if possible – and introduce themselves to management and staff.
- Review the How To Talk to Dining Hall Staff section of this toolkit with your child.
- Walk through the process for ordering foods that are allergen-free.
- Ask about emergency procedures and what you should do if you find yourself having an allergic reaction at the dining facility.
- Confirm your child’s room and roommate assignments as soon as possible.
- If your student is sharing a room, encourage them to immediately reach out to their future roommate to discuss allergens, refrigerators, etc.
- Some students will request to maintain two refrigerators in their dorms (if there is room) to minimize cross-contact.
- Pack a few containers of cleaning wipes and allergen-friendly cleaning supplies.
- Review the How To Tell Potential Roommates About Your Food Allergies and How To Talk to Your Resident Advisor sections of this toolkit with your child.
IMPORTANT NOTE: As your student makes new friends, the opportunity to eat a meal together, hang out, or go to parties may arise. After speaking with students who do not have food allergies, we learned that they WANT to know about food allergies, where rescue meds are stored, and what to do in case of an emergency! Please do not assume your student is a burden; it is the opposite of what you might think.
- Encourage your student to discover local restaurants that are safe for them to enjoy with new friends.
- Encourage your student to let friends know about their food allergy, where they carry emergency epinephrine auto-injectors, and where they keep their Allergy & Anaphylaxis Emergency Plan (emergency plans should always be with their epinephrine auto-injectors).
- Encourage your student to show his/her friends how to administer an epinephrine auto-injector using a trainer so that he/she can act swiftly in the event of an emergency.
- Help them with how to explain cross-contact, how they stay safe, signs they are having an allergic reaction, and what they need during an allergic reaction.
- Does your child have a “sign” if they need epinephrine? (They might be too far away for someone to hear them clearly, and anaphylaxis can make it difficult to speak.) Learn FAACT’s Fist to Thigh “Sign” for them to share with their friends at school.
Many young people enjoy using apps to help them manage their lives. Families rely on apps to help them stay connected and manage health conditions, including food allergies. Explore apps to help your student keep track of epinephrine expiration dates, manage their health, or find potentially safe eateries.
NOTE: FAACT does not endorse these apps, but we are sharing them to provide you with examples of what some FAACT families are using right now.
- AllerTrain™/FAACT: Map of colleges/universities food service departments that have been trained.
- MenuTrinfo® Kitchens with Confidence™ Program: which certifies food service locations that have been assessed through rigorous audits on methods, standards, policies, and understanding to serve persons with special dietary needs, specifically food allergies. A map of certified locations available on the AllerTrain™ website is a useful tool for students going to college with food allergies.
- The Alan App: Food Allergy Management
- Allergy Force: Food Allergy Management
- Alerje: Food Allergy Management
- Allergy Eats: Food Allergy Friendly Restaurant Guide
- Headspace: Meditation and Sleep App (family subscription)
- AirNow: Air Quality App
- Life360: Family Safety App
- American Automobile Association (AAA): Mobile Roadside Assistance Service and Travel Discounts
Have a tissue ready; somebody usually cries.
- Your student might be nervous and need a little grace and love.
- Consider leaving behind a little note, an extra treat, or something special from you.
- Make sure your student has a list of local people to call if they need help and you are not available. Is there a family member or food allergy friend who can run over with safe chicken soup if your student has a cold? Someone who can drive your student to doctor’s appointments or shopping?
- Ensure everyone has a good breakfast on move-in day.
- If you are eating out, research safe restaurants and wait times during move-in weekends. Local restaurants get packed early and serving times can be longer than usual.
- Pack allergen-friendly snacks and lots of water to keep everyone energized while moving your student into their dorm.
- You are not letting go; you are launching the next great adventure.
- If you are scared for your child, try to keep those emotions under wraps so you do not transfer any unnecessary fear to them.
- Self-care is more critical now than ever!
- Have a plan for after dropping off your student. Can you take a calming bath? Enjoy a nice meal out or do a happy dance?
- Do not hesitate to reach out to other parents who have children with food allergies in college.
- Feeling sad after your child leaves for college is expected. Seek the help of a mental health professional if your sadness is interfering with your everyday activities, such as work, socializing, exercise, and sleep.
- Join FAACT’s Parents of High School and College Students with Food Allergies private Facebook group for support from parents/caregivers who may be in the same position as you or are a few years ahead.