The white house with inhalers floating above it

Taking Emergency Meds to the White House

I was flying to Washington, DC, (again) for work. My family often joins me every May as advocates from all over the United States visit our reps on Capitol Hill for Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month.

We try to see something different each time we go to DC. In the past, we have not been able to get tickets to the White House, but we were finally able to get tickets this year. The Secret Service is really strict (as it should be). I closely read the instructions on our tickets. I saw that we can only bring a driver's license – but no purse, backpack, fanny pack, etc.

You are allowed to bring a driver’s license and cell phone. You can also bring emergency medicines, but the instructions only listed epinephrine and insulin as emergency meds. I was hoping "emergency meds" would also include an inhaler. I was a bit nervous because the instructions said propellants were not allowed. But my albuterol inhaler is a propellant. I did not know what would happen if I brought it.

How we packed for our day of site-seeing

Most women know that it is virtually impossible to find pants with full-size pockets, and the biggest unicorn of all time: a dress with pockets! Luckily, I had found a summer dress with pockets. I was so excited! My husband did not seem to understand the excitement. After all, men often have full-size pockets in their pants and have plenty of room for their wallet, phone, and car keys.

As a mom, I am the one lugging around a purse filled with things my family always asks for (it does not matter that my kids are all adults now....everyone knows that Mom carries all supplies) Fingernail clippers? Bandage? Antacids? Floss? Gum?

But most important of all is my inhaler and epinephrine.

We were going to be out sightseeing all day, and it was too far to go back to the hotel to get my purse. But as long as I had my inhaler and epinephrine, I felt safe.

Now the tables were turned, and I loaded my husband and son’s pockets with my inhaler and 2-pack of epinephrine. They complained, but they also had cargo pockets for their phones and wallets. I could then use the pockets in my dress for my cell phone and a few credit cards.

Bringing my asthma medicines through security at the White House

After showing our ticket and making it through the first checkpoint, we made it to another building and another checkpoint. This one had a magnetometer and X-ray machine. My husband and son handed me my epinephrine and inhaler, and I put them in the bin to go through the X-ray equipment. The head security person took them and said to another guy, “Medical equipment” and told me to proceed. Phew!

Traveling with asthma and allergies

I did not feel comfortable going around DC all day without an inhaler or my epinephrine. We were going to get lunch after we toured the White House. I try to be careful and avoid places with seafood, but I have had anaphylaxis due to cross-contact in the food prep areas.

Have you ever traveled and been worried about not being able to have your epinephrine and inhaler with you? I worry about not having them with me at all times. I know it will be the ONE time I do not have them that I will need them.

Let's hear your travel stories and if you were able to keep your inhaler and epinephrine with you.

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