Jenilee Matz has a master’s degree in public health and worked for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as a health communications specialist. She writes for several health publications including Everyday Health, HealthDay, and Diabetic Connect.
Unexpected emergencies are a part of life. Natural disasters such as tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, and blizzards can happen almost anywhere. Acts of terrorism also occur and could send your daily routine into turmoil.
Then, after the horrible event ends, you'll face another battle. There's a chance you could be stranded in your home without power or away from your home for days, weeks, or even months. If you don’t have access to your medication, blood sugar testing supplies, and other necessities, you’ll face a medical emergency.
It’s crucial for you to be ready for an emergency. Taking the time to prepare now can save your life in the future.
Items for your diabetes emergency kit
The American Diabetes Association suggests stocking up on enough diabetes supplies to last for at least three days. Store these items in a waterproof, insulated container that’s easy to carry. Tell your family and friends where the kit is located in your home in case you’re unable to get to it. It’s a good idea to stock regular safety items—such as flashlights, batteries, and first aid supplies—near your diabetes care kit.
Fill up your kit with the following supplies
Insulin and syringes or insulin pump and supplies. Even if you use an insulin pump, keep syringes on hand in case your pump is damaged or malfunctions, so you are still covered in an emergency.
Medication including oral diabetes meds and any other prescription or over-the-counter drugs you take regularly. Store all medicines in their original containers.
Blood glucose meter. Be sure to include your lancing device and lancet, alcohol swabs, test strips, and extra batteries for your meter.
A safe location to dispose used lancets such as an empty bottle with a lid.
Hand sanitizer and possibly cleansing wipes will help keep your hands clean for administering injections or finger pricks in case you are without running water.
Items you would need to treat hypoglycemia or hyperglycemia, such as glucose tablets, hard candy, or fruit juice. Include a glucagon emergency kit and urine ketone testing products if you use them.
Water and healthy, non-perishable foods. Drinking enough liquids to prevent dehydration is a must. Having nutritious foods on hand can help keep your blood sugar in check.
Diabetes tag or medical ID bracelet so others know you have diabetes.
Copies of important documents Make copies of all your prescriptions and health insurance cards in case you need prescription refills or medical care.
A detailed medical list This list should include the exact doses and times you take your medications. Also note any allergies you have to medications.
Emergency contact list Compile a contact list of family members, friends, healthcare providers, local hospitals, local health department, local police and fire department, local branch of the Red Cross or Salvation Army. Remember that you may be unable to charge your cell phone, so keep a hard copy of this list, not just a digital copy.
Set a reminder to check your supply kit every few months and replace expired medicines. Update your medical and emergency contact lists regularly.
Contacting emergency assistance
If you are in a life threatening situation, contact 911. Be aware that during large scale disasters, there may be a heavier call volume than normal and your call might not be answered instantly, but stay on the line.
If you are in need of assistance, you can contact:
Red Cross emergency communications specialist at 1-877-272-7337 or contact your local branch of the Red Cross
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at 1 (800) 621-3362
Centers for Disease Control (CDC) at 1-800-CDC-INFO
The road to recovery
The days and weeks following a disaster can be especially stressful. Take care of yourself and stick to your diabetes treatment plan to stay on top of your health. If you run out of insulin, medication, food, or water, contact a local hospital or the American Red Cross.
For more on planning ahead and staying prepared in case of disaster, visit www.ready.gov.
Do you have an emergency kit? What's in yours? Comment with your answers below.