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Tips to safely enjoy National BBQ Week

It’s National BBQ Week and summer is upon us, so we’re sure that there will be many people firing up their BBQs over the next couple of months, in a very British way, come rain or shine. If you live with allergies, there are a few allergic conditions which may cause some concern when visiting friends and relatives gardens for a BBQ gathering. Here are some tips to help you safely and confidently enjoy the occasion...

Anaphylaxis:

In the first instance, if your allergy is severe and you are at risk of anaphylaxis and carry an adrenaline auto-injector (AAI), make sure that your host and other guests are aware of this and know where your medication is. Make sure they also know what to do in the case of an emergency: 

  • An ambulance should be called immediately (999). The controller must be told that the patient has anaphylaxis (pronounced ana-fil-axis).
  • Keep the patient lying down if they do not have breathing difficulties and stay with them. Don’t let them stand up or walk, where possible, raise their feet up.
  • If they have not recovered in 5 minutes, give a second adrenaline injection, if available.
  • Even if the patient recovers quickly, they must still go to hospital for observation in case of delayed or repeated reactions.
  • If the patient has an asthma blue inhaler, they should use it AFTER using their adrenaline auto-injector.

Food allergy:

  • Make sure you tell your hosts in advance of yours or your child’s food allergy. They may be happy to eliminate the ingredient/allergen altogether to keep you/them safe.
  • If the allergen is present in a lot of foods and often not obvious, it might be a safer option for you to take along your own side dishes and BBQ items.
  • Cross contamination of food could be a risk when lots of items are being cooked on the same BBQ grill. If this is a risk for you, ie you may be allergic to an ingredient in a marinade or the food cooking, we would recommend asking if your BBQ items can be cooked separately in the oven.
  • Opt for items which are shop bought with a full ingredient list and ask your host if they can keep hold of the packaging for you to check. Avoid foods which have been marinated or made fresh at home eg homemade burgers or kebabs.
  • Don’t rely on Free-From foods or vegan foods being clear of all traces of allergens. Always check the label.
  • There are apps available that can help you identify ingredients in manufactured foods by scanning the product barcode. https://www.foodmaestro.me is one of the many apps that you can download.

Our Shopping and Cooking for a Restricted Diet Factsheet might hold some more useful information for you and your host. Visit our food allergy pages for more information:

Hayfever:

  • Make sure you are using your medication correctly. Only taking medications occasionally on high pollen count days is much less effective than taking on a daily basis. Allergy medication such as antihistamine tablets and nasal sprays are most effective when taken two weeks before your symptoms usually begin.
  • Wear wraparound sunglasses to keep pollen out of your eyes. A hat with a peak or large brim can help keep pollens from your eyes and face.
  • Using an allergen barrier balm around the nostrils can help prevent pollen and other irritants entering the nose and reduce allergic symptoms.

For more information download our Allergic Rhinitis and Hay Fever Factsheet.

Insect venom allergy:

  • Be aware of your surroundings – avoid areas where wasp or bee may be present, for example around the BBQ, close to a table with food or near plants that attract bees.
  • It is important not to panic and to stay calm when a wasp or bee comes near you. Do not make sudden movements which may increase the likelihood of a sting to the hand or arm.
  • Bees normally only sting in self-defence so avoid provoking bees and wasps.
  • Do not drink out of cans (beer or soft drinks), as wasps can crawl inside cans where they are not seen until the drinker puts the can to their lips.
  • Avoid walking barefoot on grass, especially if clover is present.
  • Cover your skin with as much clothing as possible. Bright colours can attract insects so stick to dark colours.
  • Be aware that insect repellents may not work against stinging insects. 

For more information download our Allergy to Bee and Wasp Sting Factsheet.

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