Q: With all the crazy weather we’ve been having, I would like to put together a “diabetes preparedness kit” in case we need to get out of our house in a hurry. What should be in it?
A: Thanks to satellite meteorology, we usually know days in advance about the possibility of some types of weather events, like hurricanes or blizzards. If you’re getting wind that stormy weather is on its way, there are a number of steps you can take to prepare.
First, take stock of your child’s diabetes supplies. During an emergency (or if you’re traveling), it’s generally advised to have double the normal amount of supplies on hand. In my area, where hurricanes are frequent, we recommend parents stop by the pharmacy before the storm to pick up the next month’s insulin, strips, and other prescription low blood sugar supplies, just in case. In the rare event the weather situation becomes a prolonged emergency, such as what we saw with Hurricane Katrina, some pharmacies may need time to get up and running again, so having your child’s supplies already at home can help you ride it out.
While you’re at the pharmacy, look in the first aid section for dry ice packs. In case you lose power, these are an easy way to keep insulin cooled. If you don’t have one already, also pick up a small insulated container or cooler for the insulin. Other items to stock up on? Jugs of water, low blood sugar snacks, batteries (for meters and pumps), and enough food to get through the anticipated length of the storm.
Back at home, charge your cell phones and get together your list of emergency contact numbers. If you don’t have an emergency generator, check in with your neighbors to see who does have one. In the event of a prolonged power outage, it would be helpful to have someone willing to keep insulin refrigerated or let you recharge your cell phone.
Of course, there are other situations, such as tornadoes and earthquakes, that don’t come with much warning and may require you to quickly evacuate. How can you best prepare for these types of natural disasters? Stay organized. If you always keep the diabetes supplies in the cupboard next to the fridge, for example, it makes it much easier to grab them in a hurry when needed. It’s also helpful to keep a small bag filled with a few days’ worth of supplies to have available as an emergency “grab-n-go,” being sure to regularly rotate out expiring items for new ones.
However, if you’re ever forced to evacuate without supplies, as soon as you are able to, contact your doctor or the nearest hospital for assistance and further instructions.
–Christina Ring, A.R.N.P., M.S.N., C.D.E., F.A.A.D.E., is an advanced registered nurse practitioner and certified diabetes educator in the pediatric endocrinology department at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital in Hollywood, Fla.
How Other Parents Deal
“In case we ever need to get out of the house fast, I keep a stash of supplies at my mom’s house for safekeeping. I also get our prescriptions filled at a national chain pharmacy to make sure that if we ever do get stuck someplace far from home, his records are right there on the computer.”
–Amy, mom of 8-year-old Anton
Disclaimer: The information in these articles is not intended as medical advice. Families should check with their healthcare professionals regarding individual care.