Diabetes Still Isn't Easy
Diabetes Still Isn't Easy

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Is Your Diabetes Prepared for a Natural Disaster?

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As we in the northeast are recovering from the devastation of Hurricane Sandy, it’s fitting to take the time to go discuss how to manage your diabetes in the case of an emergency. If a hurricane blew through your town, how would it affect your diabetes care? Thankfully, natural disasters don’t happen often, but taking the time now to ask these few questions can save you a lot of potential trouble later!

Do I have extra supplies?

While diabetes supplies can be hard enough to come by as it is, it pays to have a backup for those “just in case” situations. What should you have extras of?

  • Test strips (always check expiration dates)
  • An extra glucometer (make sure it uses the same strips you usually use)
  • Insulin pump supplies if you use a pump
  • Pen needles or syringes

Insulin and medications have expirations dates, so it may not be wise to try to save these items for long periods of time. Ask your CDE for ways to help you build an emergency “stockpile” of non-perishables.   

Where do I store my diabetes supplies?

If a hurricane roars into town or flood waters rise, keeping your supplies dry is important. If you are storing your test strips in their hard, plastic container with the cap tightly on, you are one step ahead of the game; these containers can prevent moisture from ruining the strips. Keeping your extra supplies a bit higher up on a shelf (not in the basement or the floor) is a good idea as well. If you live in a flood-prone area, taking the extra step purchase a watertight storage bin for your supplies can keep your important items dry in the event of a storm.

Where do I store my insulin? Do I have backup cooling methods in case the power goes out?

Insulin storage is tricky. Vials of insulin and extra insulin pens should be stored in the fridge, but what happens if the power goes out? Using a freezer pack from your freezer and a cooler can buy you some time, but what if the power is out for a week or longer? Frio® insulin cases can keep your insulin cool without need for any electricity at all; a Frio® will keep your insulin cool for 45 hours and can be reused multiple times. These can be lifesavers during blackouts. Find them here: http://www.frioinsulincoolingcase.com/

How am I coping?

We know that emotional and physical stress cause unexpected blood sugar fluctuations. If you have been emotionally affected by a disaster and need help coping, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration can help. Their Disaster Distress Helpline can provide emergency assistance until you can be seen by your own health care providers. Find information here: http://disasterdistress.samhsa.gov/

As you know from living with diabetes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Take a few minutes to get your “diabetes disaster plan” in place now and feel secure knowing you are prepared for anything!

 

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About the Author


MS, RD, CDN, CDE

Megan is a nutritionist and diabetes educator at the Friedman Diabetes Institute in New York.

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