If you have diabetes, planning ahead is the best way to stay healthy during hurricane season and in any emergency.
It is important to know what to do during an emergency in case medication and supplies may be difficult to obtain and store. Below are some recommendations for people with diabetes who take insulin.
Before an Emergency
- Store the following items in a sealable plastic bag:
- Copies of your prescriptions
- Dosage instructions and times for taking your medications
- Basal metabolic rates, insulin-to-carbohydrates ratio, insulin sensibility factors, target blood sugar levels, and insulin pump correction factors
- Contact information of your doctor and pharmacy
- Name, model, and serial number of insulin pump or continuous glucose monitor
- Copy of your health insurance card and photo ID
- Make sure you have insulin available for at least two weeks, as well as the necessary supplies to verify your blood sugar levels and manage your blood sugar if it drops, among others.
- Ask your primary care doctor or family doctor about what types of insulin you can take if your current insulin is not available.
- If you use an insulin pump, you should review the instructions to see what types of insulin will work and make sure you have additional batteries.
During an Emergency
- Try to keep insulin as cold as possible, but make sure not to freeze it.
- Keep insulin away from direct heat and sunlight. Insulin loses some of its effectiveness when exposed to extreme temperatures.
- You can take insulin stored in open or closed bottles that have been kept at room temperature (between 59°F and 86°F) for up to 4 weeks.
- If you must take insulin that has been exposed to a temperature higher than 86°F during an emergency, you must monitor your blood sugar levels regularly.
- If a change in insulin is necessary, make sure to monitor your blood sugar levels closely and seek medical care as soon as possible.
- Insulin contained in infusion device (such as the reservoir, tubing, or catheters) should be discarded after 48 hours.
After an Emergency
- When you are able to obtain your regular insulin and store it properly, discard all the insulin that has been at room temperature or exposed to extreme temperatures.
- Talk to your doctor to continue your treatment.
Take care of your emotional health during and after the emergency.
Stress and strong emotions caused by emergencies can worsen your health conditions. Some important recommendations from experts are the following:
- Take care of your body: Even during an emergency, try to eat healthy foods and well-balanced meals. Avoid consuming alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs to manage your stress and concerns.
- Stay in touch with other people: Work to maintain healthy relationships with friends and family members, share your concerns, and try to establish a solid support system that works in an emergency.
- Take breaks: Take time to relax and remember that strong emotions will pass. Do deep breathing exercises and some activities that you normally enjoy.
- Keep yourself informed but avoid overexposure: Keep up with the news to have updated information from the authorities. However, keep in mind that during a crisis, rumors can circulate, especially on social media. Always verify where the information comes from and resort to trustworthy sources, such as local governmental authorities. But avoid overexposing yourself to the news so as to not stress yourself out.
- Seek help when necessary: If the emergency has passed and you continue feeling distressed and anxious, seek professional help.