Emergency Preparedness for Diabetes

For people who have diabetes, the impending landfall of Hurricane Florence on the Southeast coast has an added level of complexity. According to Dr. Elizabeth Halprin, an endocrinologist at Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston,

“Diabetes is a difficult, chronic disease to live with and those who have evacuated their homes…are faced with continuing the day-to-day management of diabetes.”

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What can you do to ensure you’re prepared if a disaster strikes your area? According to experts, packing a diabetes emergency kit ahead of time is key. The kit should include items such as water, food, clothing and other gear that provides warmth, shelter and tools, lighting, means of communication, hygiene and first-aid items, and diabetes supplies. Lisa Katzki, RN, BSN, PHN, notes that some or all of the following medical supplies should be included in the kit:

• Extra insulin(s)
• Syringes
• Extra glucose meter
• Test strips
• Lancets and lancing device
• Insulin pump supplies
• Extra batteries for your blood glucose meter and pump
• A glucagon kit
• Ketone test strips
• Alcohol wipes
• Glucose tablets or gel

The emergency kit should be regularly reviewed, with all expired items being thrown out and replaced with fresh supplies.

According to Dr. Halprin,

“At a time when people in our country are suffering from a major natural disaster, it is good opportunity to assess how each of us would deal with such a situation. For a person with diabetes, it is particularly important to be prepared for anything that might interfere with the ability for self-care, and it is helpful to have an emergency kit ready to go at a moment’s notice.

In a water tight, insulated, portable container we suggest you keep the following:

• Keep a list of your diagnoses, medications, allergies.
• A copy of your insulin regimen.
• 30-day supply of all oral medications, insulins, glucagon, and glucose tabs. (You will need to exchange these as the expiration dates approach.)
• Blood glucose testing supplies: two meters, extra batteries.
• Small cooler with gel packs ready to go when needed.
• Container for sharps storage, such as plastic bottle with a cap.
• Treatment for hypoglycemic episodes: glucose tabs, juice boxes, hard candy.
• Nonperishable food supply: Peanut butter crackers, nutrition bars.
• Bottled water.
• First-aid supplies: Alcohol swabs, bandages, topical antibiotics.
• Extra socks, underwear, shoes.

For those living with diabetes, it is important that you are with people who know you and know your medical condition, especially during an emergency; but if that is not possible, it is important that those around you know that you have diabetes so that they can be prepared to help you.”

Want to learn more about preparing a diabetes emergency kit? Read “Disaster Preparedness and Diabetes,” “Preparing for Emergencies When You Have Diabetes.”

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