Living with diabetes blog

With diabetes, plan ahead for emergencies

By Nancy Klobassa Davidson, R.N. and Peggy Moreland, R.N. October 9, 2010

Southeast Minnesota recently experienced historic flooding. Many families were rousted out of bed in the middle of the night and had to evacuate their homes. Some were not able to return to their homes after work. Others lost their homes and some are still living in hotels until their homes are habitable again.

No matter what part of the world you live in, sooner or later chances are that you will experience a natural disaster whether it is an earthquake, flooding, hurricane, tornado, blizzard, ice storm, or fire, etc. Are you prepared to leave your house in a hurry, or live at home with no power or running water?

You may be unable to communicate with others or have a way to buy groceries or get to a pharmacy. It's never too early to plan ahead. Emergency preparedness is important for everyone, but if you have diabetes, it involves a little more planning. Here are the basics for collecting and storing the supplies needed to be self-sufficient if necessary:

  • Make a list of various places where you may need emergency supplies — most common places are home, work, car or school.
  • For home and car build an emergency kit that includes water, food, first-aid supplies, prescription medications and diabetes supplies. Also include personal care items, blankets, shelter, flashlights and extra batteries, and cell phone/flares.
  • Store your kit in a protected area. Keep a "to go" bag just in case you are required to leave your residence in a hurry.
  • Your workplace or school should have an emergency plan. Become familiar with it. Keep an emergency supply kit with your diabetes supplies at work or school.
  • Keep at least a 3 day supply of necessities. Multiply the amount times the number of people in your household. Don't forget pets.
  • Check, replenish, replace your supplies once a year. Keep supplies that have a long shelf life when possible. It's especially important to keep an unexpired supply of the medicines you use.
  • Diabetes supplies: Extra insulin(s), syringes, extra glucose meter and test strips, insulin pump supplies, extra batteries for meter and insulin pump, a glucagon kit, ketone test strips, alcohol wipes, glucose tablets or gel. For insulin, be prepared with a method to keep insulin cool in the event of a prolonged power outage, such as a cooler or an evaporative cooler like a reusable FRIO insulin cooling wallet which is activated by water and will keep insulin cool for 2 days.
  • Your emergency kit should include a copy of all your prescriptions and current dosage regimen. For those on an insulin pump, always carry with you a card that includes your current basal rates, insulin-to-carbohydrate rations, and correction factors. I had a woman who was on vacation call saying that her pump quit and she didn't have a record of current settings with her.

Take action now to assess and prepare for emergency situations. With adequate supplies of food, water, ways to keep warm (or cool), and supplies to take care of your diabetes, you can survive and stay healthy through all sorts of situations.

- Peggy

Oct. 09, 2010