With Hurricane Irma fast approaching Florida, preparing for a disaster can feel overwhelming. But for people with diabetes, preparing for the worst is a matter of survival. Janis Roszler, LMFT, RD, LD/N, CDE, FAND, American Association of Diabetes Educator member, shares her checklist for staying safe.
First, follow the general hurricane preparedness guidelines from your municipality. Get water, non-perishable food, gas for your car, etc.
Next, think through your daily diabetes regimen and be sure you have the supplies you need on hand to stay safe and healthy.
Diabetes Disaster Preparedness Check List
- Pack two weeks of medications and diabetes supplies in a waterproof, insulated bag (be sure none of the medications are expired)
- Pack medical information – printed copies of prescriptions, insurance card, emergency contacts, and pump settings (basal rates, insulin-to-carb ratios, insulin sensitivity factor, etc.). Note that you may not have access to your pharmacy's computer system
- Pack extra syringes, batteries, pump infusion sets, insulin and other injected medication pens, etc.
- If you use a pump, pack a backup method for insulin delivery, such as insulin pens.
- Pack your glucose meter and extra testing supplies, including extra batteries, lancets, and test strips (not expired). If possible, pack an additional, backup meter
- Keep your insulin in a cooler with multiple re-freezable cold packs
- Keep glucose tablets and other hypoglycemic treatments handy
- Wear medical identification
- Wear sturdy shoes to keep your feet safe. Check your feet daily for sores, cuts, and blisters, and treat any injury, as needed
As you think through your daily diabetes regimen, consider how you might do these tasks without any power or water. Pack additional items so you can care for your diabetes under challenging conditions.
Expect your blood glucose level to swing. Stress, irregular meals, lack of sleep, strenuous physical activity (cleaning up) and more, can cause your blood glucose level to go out of your target range. Just do your best to manage your diabetes. Complications don't develop from a few days of high glucose levels. They develop after the body's glucose level has been running too high for an extended period of time, such as months or years.
You can find a shelter through the Red Cross or call them directly at 1-800-733-2767. Be sure to bring more medications than you expect to use in case you are there several days. Learn more about disaster preparedness at diabeteseducator.org/disaster.