Diabetes Self-Management Blog

I live in a disaster zone. No, really: the National Guard was called out, FEMA is here and everything. You’ve probably at least heard about the flooding in the Midwest. My area was not spared. Fifteen bridges and parts of 30 roads in my county are damaged or destroyed and areas that never flood were under water as the ground became saturated from too much rain. Levees broke and people had to be rescued from their homes in boats.

Fortunately, I am high and dry and was unaffected, at least directly, by the flooding. Hundreds of others, however, weren’t as fortunate. One of my husband’s colleagues lost his house and both of his cars. A former colleague of mine from the local newspaper (now retired) showed up in the newsroom, sodden, shoeless, and saying he didn’t know where else to go after water rushed through his apartment.

On the day the floods came, I called a friend whose family was returning from vacation to tell her not to attempt to drive home from the airport that night because of a combination of closed roads and a lack of “road closed” signs. After the state police told her husband it would take an estimated 10 hours to travel what normally takes one hour, they took my advice.

People who live near the river here know they’re at risk and take their chances. Those who live two or three miles from the river don’t consider that it will rain seven inches or so in one day, a levee will break or be breached, and their house and cars will be damaged or destroyed.

While we live in tornado country, I never figured a tornado would hit the city—Indiana, after all, isn’t Kansas—until one hit about two miles from me a couple of years ago. We’ve also had a couple of earthquakes here, the last one only a couple of months ago.

Even with unexpected floods, tornadoes and earthquakes that have the potential to disrupt large portions of, if not entire, areas, I don’t have an emergency kit ready to grab and go. I should. We all should.

So I went looking for information about emergency kits. What if it’s a situation where I should stay at home? What about if I need to leave the house—now!?

Homeland Security’s site (www.ready.gov) suggested that we have both kinds: One in case we need to stay in the house; one we can grab on the run (in case, for example, the waters are rising). It’s a good site for information on emergency planning. It even includes a section for people with special needs (www.ready.gov/america/getakit/disabled.html), which can include those with diabetic complications, which was developed with the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), the Red Cross, and the National Organization on Disability.

But despite the extensive supply lists and planning information, there is something that isn’t addressed: What if you take insulin, pramlintide (brand name Symlin), exenatide (Byetta), or something else that needs to be refrigerated? Do you plan on swinging by the fridge to grab your vial and/or pen? Do you place a vial and/or a pen in your emergency kit and exchange it for a fresh container each time you run out of the old one? (On a personal note, I’ve never refrigerated insulin after it’s been opened and never had a problem with potency. Then, again, I keep my house at about 68 degrees year-round.)

Because blood glucose reagent strips have expiration dates, I guess we could also keep a container in our emergency kit and change that out each time we need a new one.

The site’s suggestion that we keep copies of prescriptions in our emergency kits is a good one. At least we could go to the pharmacy and get refills. Unless, of course, the damage is widespread enough that the nearest pharmacy is in the next state.

I’ll continue to ponder that one. In the meantime, I’m inclined to go for the one where I keep a vial, pen, and container of strips in my emergency kit and change them out from there, unless somebody has a better idea.

One thing I no longer ponder, however, is whether I’m safe from Mother Nature’s seeming state of permanent PMS. As recent events have proven, nobody is exempt from possible disaster.


  1. What if you take insulin, pramlintide (brand name Symlin), exenatide (Byetta), or something else that needs to be refrigerated?

    Hands down, an emergency kit should contain a Frio cooling product. Assuming that the emergency kit(s) would contain bottled water, the Frio can be activated in that bottled water and that specific water could actually be reused to reactivate the Frio should this be necessary. The Frio cooler can be activated in a plastic ‘bowl’ like container and the excess water saved for reactivation. Frio cooling packs keep insulin cool for up to 48 hours in temperatures up to 110 degrees Farenheit. Our family’s Frio’s last much longer before they need to be reactivated in water. frio

    Posted by tess |
  2. I am insulin dependent and live on the Texas coast. We are now in Hurricane season. I have a back pack on wheels in which I will pack my medicines, which I have just refilled. I also have a two week pill pack. I have 2 gel packs in the freezer that I will use in a mini-mini fold up cooler for the insulin. A clear plastic zip-up pencil bag (the kind that goes in a three ring binder)holds a 30 day supply of pre-filled basal insulin syringes, as well as the medicine box with original label. That is in the fridge, along with a new pen WITH A NEW NEEDLE IN.
    My medication list and regimen is in the back pack as well as in my wallet. A spare glucometer and 100 test strips are in the back pack.
    I pack a six pack of individual servings of apple juice, a jar of p-nut butter, a box of nutrition bars and a package of sweet tarts with carb grams and number of pieces of candy marked on it. In the back pack, I keep 5 days worth of clothes, a flashlight, a pair of sneakers and Toothbrush and toothpaste. I keep two gallon bottles of water by the door, and the car never has less than half a tank of gas. My cell phone I keep with me, a hard copy of phone numbers (family, friends and doctors) and car charger. Lots of prayers!

    Posted by Millie |
  3. I had not thought of what I should grab if (in my case tornados) I should need to leave my home.
    I do keep an small bag ready with monitor, strips,short needles, lancet plus paper, pen. Thinking I would put in my pens when I needed to leave, I can see where I might forget to grab the pens AND the bag.
    I haven’t thought of anything different.
    any other thoughts.

    Posted by marleen533 |
  4. People who are stupid enough to eat processed peanut butter should read the label and check out the hydrogenated oils in it. The average age in Canada for a heart attack in a person with diabetes is 57 and much sooner if you consume hydrogenated oils.


    Posted by SunniD |

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