With hurricane season upon us, it is important to make sure you are prepared, especially if you are a diabetic. Arm yourself with the knowledge and preparations that you will need to best weather a hurricane or any other type of natural disaster.
In the event of an emergency, make sure that you let emergency personnel know that you are diabetic so that they can provide you with the right kind of care. In addition, carry something that has sugar in it with you at all times, in case you experience hypoglycemia, and drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. Take special care of your feet, as you are more prone to infections than other people. Have wounds and sores seen to right away.
Insulin storage is a real challenge in an emergency situation, since it should be kept between 35 to 46 degrees Fahrenheit for its potency to last until the expiration date. Without refrigeration, you will need to do your best to keep your insulin as cool as you can. Keep it away from direct heat and out of the sun. Insulin should never be frozen, so if you do have access to ice, take care not to freeze it. The good news is that insulin can go as long as 28 days without refrigeration and still retain its maximum potency. If unrefrigerated, it is best for it not to experience temperatures greater than 85 degrees Fahrenheit. When you are able to get insulin that has been appropriately stored again, dispose of the unrefrigerated vials.
In an emergency, the type of insulin that you use may not be available and you may have to change insulin. Under ordinary conditions, this is not advisable without a doctor’s guidance. In an emergency it is best to know what types of insulin you could switch to. For instance, if you use regular insulin, you can change to another brand of regular insulin, and if you use rapid-acting insulin you can change to another brand of rapid-acting insulin on a unit-per-unit basis. Talk to your doctor about your options before an emergency occurs.
Put together a diabetic emergency kit. It should contain:
· Your medical history and emergency contacts
· Copies of your prescriptions
· Syringes, lancets, and lancing device
· Alcohol swabs and cotton balls
· Supplies for your insulin pump
· A blood sugar meter and strips
· Your blood sugar journal
· Test strips for urine ketone
· Glucose tablets
· Non-perishable snack containing long lasting carbohydrates
· Glucagon emergency kit
· Container in which to dispose of used lancets and syringes
With some advanced planning and a conversation with your doctor about your health in the event of an emergency, you are all set to ride out hurricane season with peace of mind. If you have more questions regarding diabetes in emergency or disaster situations, contact Regional Medical Center. Visit us online or give us a call at 727-819-2929.
Diabetes Disaster Guidelines (New Jersey State)