Tornadoes in Missouri, Arkansas, Kansas and Texas, the Mississippi River flooding all the way to Louisiana, hurricane season beginning June 1st in Florida, volcanoes erupting in Iceland, wild fires in California, earthquakes and a tsunami in Japan. The list of disasters goes on and people with a chronic disease like diabetes need to be prepared during a crisis.
Disasters can prevent adequate access to diabetes care as well as multiple changes in daily routines. During times of disaster, stress levels climb which can send blood sugars soaring. Heavy exercise such as gathering debris or rebuilding a home can cause an increase in hormone secretion and also increase the blood sugar.
Lack of food and snacks can cause hypoglycemia. Usually, the first 3 days after the disaster when you are on your own and need the most preparation.
Before problems arise, it is imperative to have your plans ready to go. You should include a portable diabetes disaster kit.
General Emergency Planning Information:
- Learn how you will be warned about a potential disaster from local agencies and authorities. Know how the information will be delivered during and after the crisis.
- Plan an escape route prior to the emergency especially if you are in an evacuation zone.
- Have a plan in place for your pets if you cannot bring them with you.
- Shut off water and power sources like gas and electricity during emergencies when instructed to.
- Get to know other sources of medical care besides your physician such as the local area hospital, police department, and fire department, Red Cross Agency or even F.E.M.A. (Federal Emergency Management Agency).
- Have a network of people both in town and out of town who are aware of your situation especially if you are leaving.
- Make sure your immunizations are always up to date including a tetanus shot which should be updated every 10 years.
- Have a first – aid kit including alcohol wipes, antibiotic salve, and bandages as well as O.T.C. (medications not requiring a prescription) for headaches, pain, fever, allergies and stomach ailments.
- Have 2-3 days worth of hygiene products ready to go. Fresh under garments for 2-3 days.
- Have a portable radio with extra batteries.
- Have dry blankets, matches, candles and a flashlight with extra batteries.
- A cell phone with charged batteries.
- A full tank of gas.
- Sunscreen with SPF of 15 and a wide brimmed hat.
ESSENTIALS FOR PEOPLE WITH DIABETES – most of these supplies should be in an insulated and waterproof container:
- A copy of your health insurance card.
- A copy of most recent blood work – A1C, lipids, CBC, Urinalysis.
- Sturdy walking shoes with a supportive arch.Two to three days worth of clean white socks.
- A list of all your medications, allergies, surgeries and medical conditions.
- Extra prescriptions for your medications.
- Glucose tablets or regular soda cans for hypoglycemia.
- Extra testing supplies-enough for 2 weeks-strips, lancets, extra batteries for your meter, heavy plastic container for proper sharps disposal. Include control solution to check if strips have been exposed to heat or humidity.
- Pen and paper or log book for documentation of blood sugars.
- Reusable gel ice (no dry ice) packs for storing unopened insulin.
- Glucagon shot for type 1 or type 2 on insulin.
- Ketone testing kit.
- Water-2-3 day’s worth for hydration.
- Peanut butter, packaged cheese, unsalted nuts, unsalted crackers.
- Unsweetened cereal-whole grain preferred.
- Powdered milk.
- Unsweetened apple sauce cups, lite fruit cups.
- Utensils and a manual can opener.
- List of medical professionals and pharmacy phone numbers.
I know it might sound overwhelming to put this entire kit together, but do it before the emergency strikes and you will be glad you did! Hopefully, you will never use it at all.
NOTE: Consult your doctor first to make sure my recommendations fit your special health needs.
She is a member of the American Diabetes Association as well as the South Florida Association of Diabetes Educators. She worked with the education department of NBMC to help educate the hospital's in-patient nurses about diabetes. She practices a healthy lifestyle and has worked as a personal fitness trainer in the past.
She was one of the initiators of the North Broward Diabetes Center (NBMC) which started in 1990 and was one of the first American Diabetes Association (ADA) certified programs in Broward County, Florida for nearly two decades. Robbie has educated patients to care for themselves and has counseled them on healthy eating, heart disease, high lipids, use of glucometers, insulin and many other aspects of diabetes care. The NBMC Diabetes Center received the Valor Award from the American Diabetes Center for excellent care to their patients. Robbie has volunteered over the years as leader of many diabetes support groups.