Explaining Allergies to Your Roommates

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For the better part of the last eight years, like many of us, I’ve lived with roommates. As someone at risk for anaphylaxis, stemming from allergies to various nuts, I am very careful about both choosing my roommates and about being very forward when it comes to explaining my allergies and the precautions that need to be taken to ensure that I feel safe in my own home. The following will detail some measures I have taken to stay safe over the years.

I have been fortunate to live with roommates who have been both long-time friends and family over the years. These individuals are familiar with my allergies and have been in various situations with me (at restaurants and traveling for hockey and vacationing abroad). Nonetheless, one must be particularly careful to not have a false sense of security simply because those you live with are familiar with your allergies and the precautions required for you to stay safe. Put simply, all it takes is one mistake on your part or the part of a roommate. I find that a simple chat when you first move into a new place, and some friendly reminders as time goes on, goes a long way.

Cooking and doing dishes when you have roommates can be a challenge at the best of times. I’ve found that having all my own personal pots, pans, utensils, and plates and bowls to be very smart way to ensure that no cross-contamination occurs. Additionally, while I’ve had dishwashers at every place I have lived, I hand-wash every one of my dishes. That is to say, not all dishwashers are equally effective when it comes to cleaning your dishes. Nor can you always count on your roommates to avoid consuming food products that have even “may contain” warnings on the labels. At the end of the day, it is your responsibility to look out for your own safety. And I’ve found that following these courses of action to take stressing about cross-contamination out of the equation.

Something as simple as brushing your teeth, if you share a bathroom, can be a potentially dangerous situation. But, again, if you stick to a safe method, it can make a world of difference. I’ve found that keeping my toothbrush, toothpaste, and mouthwash in my own kit, a travel kit to be specific, prevents me from worrying about my toothbrush touching those of my roommates, worrying about someone using my toothpaste or worrying about someone using my mouthwash (guests included). Additionally, always make sure your roommates and guests know where your auto-injector are at all times.

While no method can completely overcome simple human error, on your part of the part of your roommates, these have been the methods that have works for me over the years. What methods have worked for you and what additional methods might you suggest? 

Aaron S. 

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