Floods, hurricanes, tornadoes and pandemic illness—these are just a few of the emergencies that can crop up. While you may have time to grab essentials and go, in many cases there are only seconds to take action. That’s why being as prepared as possible could save your life and help you prevent serious diabetes-related health consequences after a disaster strikes.
Disclosure: This post is for informational purposes only. Talk to your doctor if you have any questions or concerns regarding diabetes.
Build a Plan and a Kit
Everyone with diabetes should take special steps to prepare for emergencies. In addition to supplies, keep a list of emergency contact numbers in your kit. If you are preparing a kit for a child make sure to include a copy of your doctor’s instructions for care. Ensure that a medical alert bracelet or other identification is clearly displayed too, in case you’re unable to communicate with rescuers or in case your child is separated from experienced caregivers.
Experts recommend storing a three-day supply of essential equipment. This may include:
- Oral diabetes medications
- Alcohol wipes or hand sanitizer
- Extra batteries for your glucometer or insulin pump
- An extra glucagon kit
- A hard plastic case or container for used needles.
Keep these items in a watertight or secure container in a location that you can access easily. You’ll also want to ensure that your diabetic devices can be used and stored safely. Pack your glucometer and batteries in a zippered plastic bag. For natural disaster-type emergencies it may be a good idea to invest in a waterproof case.
For insulin pump users, be sure to check if your pump requires special lithium batteries. Some modern pumps don’t use disposable batteries at all, such as the Tandem t:slim. It has a rechargeable battery that can even be recharged with a solar charger, and it can also be charged in the car. This is handy on a daily basis, but also in case of emergencies.
Remember to check the contents of your kit every month or two and replace any expired items.
Other Medical Issues to Consider
In addition to the obvious supplies, you also need to include a few additional items to prevent and manage complications. These include:
Dehydration is a dangerous process for people with diabetes. Because stress can raise blood sugar levels, the body attempts to remove the extra sugar by passing it out in the urine. This process causes frequent urination and when combined with normal water loss from sweating and regular body functions, you could become dehydrated very quickly and suffer serious health complications as a result. Plan to store enough water for three days if you possibly can. You can also carry a small water purifier in your emergency bag or water purification tablets.
Good Shoes and Plenty of Dry Socks
Everyone with diabetes should take special care of their feet. Because high sugar levels can reduce blood flow to the feet and reduce how well the nerves sense pain, it can be easy to have an injury and not even know it. During times of emergency, try to avoid walking through contaminated water, and keep your feet as dry as possible. Keep several changes of dry socks and maybe even an extra pair of well-fitting shoes in your kit. Make sure to check your feet regularly for any signs of redness, cuts, or injury and if you find something, see a doctor for care.
Quick Sources of Glucose
Hypoglycemia or low blood sugar can affect anyone who takes insulin or pills to control diabetes. Hypoglycemia can cause shaking, chills, sweating, nausea, irritability and much more. Every emergency kit should contain sources of quick-absorbing glucose like juice boxes, glucose tablets, or even small tubes of cake icing can be used to bring the glucose levels up quickly. In emergencies, you may be advised to let your sugar be a bit higher than you would at other times. Ask your doctor what glucose level he or she would recommend for you during an emergency.
When emergencies strike, you don’t have to be unprepared. Get started on your plan and make sure you can face any situation with confidence.
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