According to FARE (Food Allergy Research & Education), one in 13 children has food allergies; a food allergy reaction sends someone to the emergency room every three minutes in the United States. The Mayo Clinic website explains that even a tiny amount of allergy-causing food can trigger symptoms.
One Belmont Shore mom is very aware of these facts. Sidney Price’s sons, 3 1/2-year-old Brixton and 2-year-old Aceyn, both have food allergies.
“There is not one moment of one day that we are not thinking about food and how to keep our children safe in everyday settings,” Price said. “Little things that most families would not think twice about are unsafe for us and cause anxiety for me as a mom.”
She said that Brixton and Aceyn love to play outside, but public places can be dangerous for them.
“I can’t tell you how many times my family and I have had to make a quick exit from a playground because a child is carrying around a granola bar with nuts or milk chocolate chips or a snack pack of trail mix,” Price said.
Since toddlers often put their hands on their faces and mouths, contact with food-smudged surfaces can create health hazards for little ones with food allergies. Price said that she and her husband never leave home without Epi-pens and the name of the nearest hospital. She explained that if her sons were to grab a handrail that had been touched by a child with food-covered fingers, a severe reaction could result.
Recently, some communities have added food information signs to their playground areas. Cities in Michigan and Ohio posted signage in 2018, with areas in Massachusetts and Pennsylvania following suit in early 2019. Price reached out to Long Beach officials to see if similar steps could be taken here. She found a receptive audience in Third District Councilwoman Suzie Price (no relation to the Sidney Price family).
“As a mom, Sidney shared the hazards in parks and conveyed a lot of passion,” Councilwoman Price said. “After we spoke, I met with the director of Long Beach Parks, Recreation and Marine and asked if we could install signs at the parks in our district as a pilot plan.”
Councilwoman Price volunteered to pay for the new signs and worked with Sidney Price on their design, examining other cities’ wording to determine the best content and layout for Long Beach. Ultimately, they chose to emphasize park safety by asking patrons to wash their hands after eating and keep food and drink away from playground equipment. The new signs also remind readers that smoking is prohibited within 25 feet of playgrounds and sports fields.
In mid-July, these safety signs started appearing in Third District parks, including Mother’s Beach, Bayshore, Colorado Lagoon, Recreation, Livingston, Marina Vista, College Estates, and Los Altos Plaza. Sidney Price said she is very proud of the city and the councilwoman for their work to increase awareness and safety; she believes that Long Beach is the first city in California to have taken this step.
Councilwoman Price said she is glad her office was able to address the situation.
“This is a great example of the way we work together to implement solutions when residents share a need in the community,” she said.