When the subject of emergency preparedness comes up in our home state of California, the focus is almost always on earthquakes and, more recently, wildfires. The discussion is not about if one will happen, but when. Similar conversations could — probably should — be going on in almost any part of the United States, with the only difference being the type of natural disaster most likely to occur. In the Southeast, the topic would be hurricanes, in the Plains states, tornadoes, in the Northeast, blizzards and ice storms, and in the Midwest (and elsewhere), floods. Unfortunately, there’s also the possibility of manmade disasters, which can happen anywhere.
There are two ways to react to the knowledge that some day, a disaster or emergency situation will happen in your area. One is to not do anything and to either worry about what will happen or deny that you could possibly be affected. The second is to prepare, just in case you are affected. Obviously, the second option is more likely to keep you healthy in the long term, and it may help you to feel calmer and more secure now, too.
Emergency preparedness is important for everyone, and when you have diabetes, it requires that much more planning and gathering of supplies. However, it being human nature to procrastinate, many people (maybe even you?) are not fully — or even partially — prepared to deal with having to leave home in a hurry or to survive at home for several days with no power, no running water, a limited ability to communicate with others, and no way to buy groceries or get to a pharmacy.
With preparation, however, you can survive — and maintain diabetes control — under such circumstances. This article presents some basics for collecting and storing the supplies you’ll need to be self-sufficient if necessary. (Click here to learn about some government agencies that can help you prepare for and deal with disasters.)
Where to stock supplies
Before making a list of the supplies you’ll need to prepare for an emergency, think of the various places you may need them. These would be the places where you and members of your family would likely be — and may likely be stuck — when an emergency happens.
The most common locations are in your home, car, workplace, or school. For your home and car, you’ll want to build an emergency kit that includes water, food, first-aid supplies, prescription medicines and diabetes care needs, personal hygiene items, one or more communication devices, and sources of warmth, shelter, and lighting. Keep your home kit in a location that will not likely be obstructed or damaged in an emergency. For example, if the most likely disaster to strike your area is a flood, do not store your emergency kit in the basement.
It’s also a good idea to keep a smaller collection of these items in a “go bag” that you can grab quickly if it becomes necessary to leave your home in a hurry.
Ask your workplace and your children’s school(s) if they have an emergency plan of action and appropriate supplies for their staff and students. Most states have requirements for school emergency management planning, but it doesn’t hurt to ask to make sure a school is in compliance. If a school or workplace doesn’t have a plan or supplies in place, recommend that they get prepared — and offer to help. Until that location is adequately prepared, keep a complete emergency supply kit there as well. If the school or workplace has a plan with adequate supplies, you need only supplement it with your unique needs, such as diabetes supplies.
How much to stock
The rule of thumb is to have, at a minimum, a three-day supply of necessities. Depending on the scope of the disaster, it could easily take that long for assistance to reach your area, and, as was the case for many people caught in Hurricane Katrina in 2005, it could take longer. Assume that you will be on your own without running water, power, or community assistance.