Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Supernanny Jo Frost Talks Allergies

"Supernanny" and "Family S.O.S." host Jo Frost
You might know her as the no-nonsense, tough-loving Supernanny, but did you also know that Jo Frost has had to battle life-threatening allergies since she was 4 years old?

I had the chance to catch up with the famous parenting expert, who just kicked off her new show Family S.O.S. this summer on TLC. Frost has partnered with EpiPen to celebrate the epinephrine auto-injector's 25th anniversary (25YearsofEpiPen.com).

She talked to me about her own allergies (she's allergic to nuts and shellfish) and how parents can prepare even if they've never had experience with anaphylaxis. (I know I hear about EpiPens for CC's school and camp and would love to know what to do if she had a friend over who had life-threatening allergies.) Here is an edited excerpt.

L.A. Story: Tell me a little about your partnership with EpiPen and the 25-year anniversary.

Jo Frost: A great partnership, actually, and one I felt very passionate about because we are campaigning and celebrating the 25 years of EpiPen. (At) the age of 4, I ate a shrimp at a family gathering, and my parents saw the signs and symptoms and rushed me to the hospital, where I was given epinephrine.

L.A. Story: What should parents know when it comes to anaphylaxis?

Jo Frost: On the show, we travel around the United States and internationally, and I have a 3-step action plan which I use and I think is very important for people to know so they can be prepared themselves.

And that is to make sure first and foremost that you can avoid all allergens. After that, know what those triggers are—know what the signs and symptoms are. Always carry two EpiPens or two injectors at all times because they’re no good at home, you know. Also, make sure you can call emergency medical care.

L.A. Story: On your show Family S.O.S., you work with whole families vs. just the kids. What's that like?

Jo Frost: It’s different in the way that the viewers are now getting to see that. That’s something fundamentally I was always doing. We just took so many hours of footage that we never got time to put it all in. So this format has been created to clearly show how the adults received the necessary education and advice.

L.A. Story: What are your tips for parents who don't have experience with EpiPens?

Jo Frost: I think most importantly, looking at families with kids who do show the signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis, hopefully one is aware that you are talking to your immediate family, family members, that you’re talking to the school and making sure they’re aware of the signs and symptoms, so that one can be prepared straight away that when we do see this that we follow through and take the EpiPen.

L.A. Story: With summer here, which can mean lots of traveling, do you have any tips for parents of kids with life-threatening allergies?

Jo Frost: For me, I’m somebody who does do that. Over the last 8 years, I’ve traveled around 47 states of America, so my work entails making sure I’m safe all the time and really vigilant about how I move forward everyday. So pre-planning and preparing is very key.

For example, I work with children. My production company makes sure that the families are aware that there can’t be any peanut butter when I’m helping families. The kids have gotten used to me now that we can’t have that.

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