Amy Tenderich was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in May of 2003. She is the founder and editor-in-chief of Diabetes Mine and co-authored the book Know Your Numbers, Outlive Your Diabetes. You will frequently find her speaking at diabetes, health, and social media events across the country.

Insulin is a delicate substance, so you do need to take precautions to keep it safe.

  • Keep only the vial or cartridge you are currently using on a daily basis at room temperature; bottles you’re storing for future use should be refrigerated to keep fresh. Most insulins are good for a month out of the refrigerator as long as the outside air temperature isn't scorching hot. And insulin at room temperature is much more comfortable to inject than the chilled variety.

  • Never leave insulin in direct sunlight.

  • Never put insulin in the freezer or let it approach freezing temperatures.

  • Be careful not to shake vials or let them get too jarred. Some of the more sensitive varieties will also become unusable (inactive) from this handling.

  • Store vials in some kind of padding. Glass vials are easily broken (they often fall in the sink).

One excellent option for carrying insulin and keeping it at a steady temperature, even in hot weather, is the Frio Cooling Case—these are “gel pouches” that work using only water. No freezing or ice packs are necessary, and the Frio maintains a constant temperature for up to 45 hours. The cases are like padded envelopes in various shapes and sizes.

Note that if your blood glucose is suddenly running very high, it might be that your current batch of insulin has gone bad! This has happened to me once too often.

Other Tips in This Series

Tip 1: Why Insulin's 'Bad Rap' is Undeserved
Tip 2: Understanding Long-Acting vs. Fast-Acting Insulin
Tip 3: Avoid the Lows
Tip 5: Pros and Cons of Symlin, an Insulin Supplement