Diabetes Self-Management Articles

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Disaster Preparedness
It's Never Too Early to Plan Ahead!

by Dan Katzki and Lisa Katzki, RN, BSN, PHN

Check your stored food each year, and replace anything that has expired or will expire within the year.

Be aware that most “survival” foods are high in calories and will likely raise your blood glucose more than “ordinary” meals. The stress of the situation can also elevate your blood glucose. If you need to sustain yourself with emergency foods, read the package labels carefully so you know what a single serving is, how many calories it provides, and how much carbohydrate it contains. If possible, monitor your blood glucose more frequently than usual.

In most of the United States, it can be cold for much of the year. If your electricity or gas is cut off, so, probably, is your usual source of warmth. If you have a fireplace, keep a stockpile of wood. This old-fashioned source of warmth could find sudden practicality in an emergency.

Pack blankets and sleeping bags in your kit. You can purchase inexpensive, very compact survival blankets made of Mylar, which reflects back body heat; these are easy to store in a car or “go bag.” Check any cloth emergency blankets yearly for mold or moth damage. Keep extra gloves and socks in your kit, as well, along with instant heat packs (usually available at camping or sporting goods stores).

Insulin and blood glucose meters are vulnerable to cold: If insulin freezes, it is rendered permanently useless, and meters can cease functioning in very cold temperatures. You may be able to keep your meter warm by placing it inside the clothing you are wearing. An insulated carrying case — the same type that’s used to keep insulin cool — can protect insulin from extreme cold.

Shelter and tools
It’s possible that your home may become damaged and uninhabitable in a disaster, so set up a buddy system with friends or relatives so that you’ll have someone you can stay with. Ideally, you should have a local buddy, as well as one who does not live in the geographic area. It’s best that the buddy system be reciprocal: That way, both parties stand to benefit.

You should also pack a tent or some tarps in your kit for short-term shelter. And your home kit should include basic tools such as a shovel, pry bar, hammer and nails, manual screwdriver and screws, duct tape, marking pen, hard hat, work gloves, safety goggles, dust masks, and a wrench that can be used to shut off your gas and water connections.

Become familiar with how to shut off your gas, water, and electricity. If you don’t know how, ask your local power company for help. In the event that you need to turn your gas off, do not turn it back on yourself. Your gas company will need to do that for you.

Power outages are common after a disaster. Be prepared with a flashlight in your emergency kit, your car, and in at least three rooms of your house. Test the batteries regularly, just as you should be doing with your smoke alarm.

The ideal flashlight for your emergency kit is one that can be powered by battery, electric, solar, or hand crank. In your home, keep a rechargeable flashlight in an outlet so that it is fully charged when the power goes out.

These days, many people have several ways of communicating, including a conventional telephone line (land line), cell phone (which can also be used to send text messages), and computer, personal digital assistant, or smart phone, on which e-mail and instant messages can be sent and received. Radios and televisions can also be useful for getting information about disasters and emergency situations.

While it is unlikely that all of these devices will become inoperable after a disaster, it is almost a certainty that cell phone towers will be jammed, and they may cease functioning if the power goes out.

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Also in this article:
Getting Out in a Hurry
Government Agencies
Purifying Water



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Statements and opinions expressed on this Web site are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the publishers or advertisers. The information provided on this Web site should not be construed as medical instruction. Consult appropriate health-care professionals before taking action based on this information.



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