Emergency Preparedness With Diabetes: Two Rules

We know that when patients are evacuated quickly, particularly if they are taking insulin, they can have a problem afterward getting insulin and the tools they need to manage their diabetes, which may set them back in their diabetes care for the next year or two. Here in California, policemen were literally knocking on doors and saying, "You need to get out now." You don't have a lot of time when this happens, so we want to make sure that everybody is prepared for disaster.

For an immediate disaster, the patient needs to have insulin, strips, a meter, a little bit of simple carbohydrate, and a little bit of water at the ready. I tell people to assemble the things they need that would actually keep them alive. So patients on two different kinds of insulin—a short-acting and long-acting insulin—need to make sure they have an extra couple of pens or an extra couple of vials kept in the refrigerator in a pouch that keeps them cool. There are lunch bags that keep things cool, not frozen. That should be kept in the refrigerator with the basic supplies because then the patient can just pull it out and go.

In that kit will also be pen needles and/or insulin syringes. It is recommended adding some glucose tablets and easy things to eat, like food bars, and some juice or some water. In addition, there should be a blood glucose monitor to-go, even for people with fancy sensors and things. The battery needs to be out of that monitor because it can go bad in the refrigerator from condensation. The battery for the meter should be taped outside of the refrigerator so it's ready to be put in with the other supplies. There also needs to be strips, a lancing device, and lancets.

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