by Susan Klick, MSN, RN, CNL
Spring time in St. Louis reminds us that Emergency preparedness is important for everyone. When you have diabetes, it requires that much more planning and gathering of supplies. However, it being human nature to procrastinate, many people (maybe even you?) are not fully – or even partially – prepared to deal with having to leave home in a hurry or to survive at home for several days with no power, no running water, a limited ability to communicate with others, and no way to buy groceries or get to a pharmacy.
When you think about being prepared for a natural disaster, keep the following in mind:
- Do you have enough medication and supplies? For example: blood glucose monitoring supplies; insulin syringes, or an extra battery for your pump and monitor.
- Who can you reach out to in case of emergency? Do you have family nearby who will be able to get to you?
- Do you have enough water and non-perishable food items that could last you for up to 2 weeks?
Do you have non-perishable foods to treat hypoglycemia?
Basic Emergency Preparedness steps include:
- Have a plan that includes proper diabetes care.
- Emergency Supplies – store three days’ worth of supplies in an easy-to-identify container, and store it in a location that is easy to get to in an emergency.
- Emergency contacts: Keep a list of emergency contact phone numbers in your supply kit.
Other Helpful Hints:
- Identify yourself to relief workers as having diabetes and wear diabetes identification.
- Prevent dehydration. Make sure you are taking in enough fluid to meet your body’s needs. This must be done safely so make sure you are drinking clean water or non-carbohydrate fluids.
- A word about hypoglycemia: Keep something with you to treat low blood sugar at all times. Due to the serious concerns of low blood sugar and the unusual circumstances faced in the aftermath of an emergency such as a natural disaster, particularly if you are unable to monitor your blood glucose, it may not be best to strive to keep your blood glucose levels to as close to possible as normal, but allow the level to be somewhat higher. Remember too that certain medications require certain diet requirements that may be altered, and activity levels may be different. Excessive work (activity) to repair damage to your home, neighborhood, etc. may cause a drop in blood glucose as well as erratic meal times.
- Prevent Infection – People with diabetes are naturally at higher risk to develop infections, particularly in their feet. Be aware! In catastrophic events, there may be debris that presents additional danger. Wear protective clothing and shoes.
- Medications: If you are insulin dependent and insulin is NOT available, carbohydrate intake will most likely need to be cut. The most important priority is to stay hydrated. When medications are available they should be started cautiously as diet and activity levels may be different, or weight loss may have occurred.
- Pharmacies in affected areas may allow you to get your medications without a prescription if you have the pill bottles.
- High blood sugar – Look for elevation in blood sugar as a result of stress, erratic meal times, lack of medication(s).
- Check your kit every time the seasons change and watch expiration dates.
Food Supplies Suggestions for your Emergency Kits:
6 cans regular soda
6 cans diet soda
6 cans light/water packed fruit
6 cans juice
Glucose Tablets or hard candies
Mechanical Can Opener
American Diabetes Association