Tag Archives: allergies

Apps for Safer Trick or Treating

By Tracey Dowdy

Tis the season! No, not Christmas, though if you’ve been in WalMart or Target lately there’s plenty of Christmas décor to confuse you. Halloween is nearly here and with it comes all the cautionary tales of Halloween Past. When I was a kid it was razor blades in apples, now it seems we’ve moved on to fears of drug-laced candy.

Of course, parents should exercise caution at Halloween – at what other time do we encourage children to accept candy from strangers? – particularly if your child has food allergies or sensitivities.

These apps can help ensure your little goblins have a safe and happy Halloween.

The First Aid: American Red Cross app features videos, interactive quizzes, with easy to understand step-by-step advice for all kinds of medical emergencies including allergies and anaphylaxis, so you can feel better prepared in the event of an emergency. The app is fully integrated with 911, so you can contact emergency services directly through the app. Free – iOS/Android

Spokin is a food allergy app that provides you with allergen related resources customized to your family’s food allergies, location, and experience. Protect your child from accidental exposure through Spokin’s hidden allergen feature or find answers to your questions, and even follow another user with the same food allergies and taste. Free – iOS

Google Maps lets you keep track of your child’s location in real-time or use it to access the location of a parent or chaperone who might be with them. You need at least two smartphones (or a tablet with cellular) with the Google Maps app downloaded and location sharing activated – one for you and one that goes with the trick-or-treaters. Once downloaded on both devices, open “Location Sharing” on the left-hand side menu on the app. Free – iOS/Android

Life360 allows you to set up a trick-or-treat route with your children and as they reach the next zone on the map, you receive a notification on your smartphone. The apps also share the phone’s battery life, so you’ll know if the phone did die, or if they turned it off to do a second round of trick or treating. Free – iOS/Android

For many of us, it’s impossible to know all your neighbors. The FBI and U.S. Department of Justice have sex offender registries that connect all U.S. state, tribal, and territory websites so that citizens can search for the identities and locations of known sex offenders.  

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.


Tips for Fighting Seasonal Allergies

By Tracey Dowdy

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, allergies are the sixth leading cause of chronic illness in the U.S. costing Americans over $18 billion every year. That number may seem high, but more than 50 million Americans suffer from allergies, some year round.

Anyone is susceptible to allergies, and they can develop with little or no warning throughout your lifetime. I had no allergies until my first pregnancy, then developed seasonal allergies as well as an allergy to cats. Over the past couple of years, I’ve added wheat, barley, and squash to the list.

So what is an allergy? It’s merely an overreaction of your immune system to materials that generally don’t affect others. Your body can react in many different ways, including sneezing, hives, rashes, or coughing, and the severity can run from irritating to deadly.

If you or someone in your household is battling seasonal allergies, along with over-the-counter or prescription medication, there are steps you can take to mitigate your symptoms.

  • Change your routine. Especially helpful this time of year when Spring allergies are at their peak, a shower when you walk in the door after school or work rinses the pollen off your skin and hair, eliminating much of the irritants you picked up even if you’ were only outdoors for a short time. Leaving outdoor clothing like jackets and shoes near the door or in the mudroom can help reduce symptoms, as will changing clothes as soon as you get home.
  • Keep the outdoors, well, outdoors. Although it’s tempting to fling open the windows and doors after a long winter, keeping them shut will go a long way towards reducing symptoms. That breeze not only brings pollen and mold spores into your home, but it also kicks up allergens already present. Dust or wipe down surfaces, and be sure to replace or clean your homes furnace filter to further reduce indoor allergens.
  • Pay Attention to Weather Conditions. Alan Reppert, an AccuWeather senior meteorologist, says, “Spring allergies are driven by trees and grass pollen, and different people will have their own reactions. If you do suffer from spring allergens, a cold front passing through can bring some relief. But even when the weather seems quiet, allergens can be present and contribute to illness. For example, when rain begins and washes pollen out of the air, mold spores can climb and cause allergy problems.”  AccuWeather has a daily allergy index, you can find at AccuWeather.com or on their free AccuWeather app available for iOS and Android.
  • Finally, take advantage of apps that will help you track and hopefully reduce the impact of seasonal allergies. Web MD has an excellent app specifically targeted to allergy sufferers. Get personalized allergy and weather forecasts, pollen and mold levels for your area, and tips from doctors to help reduce symptoms. Zyrtec’s AllergyCast app offers daily allergy impact and pollen counts, 10-day forecasts so you know ahead of time what to expect and how to prepare, a log to help you track your allergies, and customizable alerts for when allergens are particularly high. And of course, it’s a smart idea to have The Red Cross First Aid app downloaded in case of an emergency. The app offers videos and step-by-step advice for a wide range of medical emergencies, including allergies and anaphylaxis. All four apps are available in Apple’s App Store and Google Play. 

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.