News of the Center

Simply by living in California, we need to be prepared for a variety of natural disasters—from recent wildfires and mudslide events that prompted split-second evacuations to the ever-present danger of a major earthquake.

 

You need to have your emergency diabetes survival kit ready because there isn’t always time to prepare during a disaster. This is especially important for seniors and people using insulin. We know from recent published studies on the impact of hurricanes Katrina and Rita that more seniors died in the first month after the storms and that the storms’ impacts lasted a year or more.

 

This is what a basic (not refrigerated) diabetes survival kit, ideally kept in a small backpack that is easily accessible, should contain:

 

  1. A small supply of all your prescription and nonprescription medications (like Tylenol/Advil/Benadryl—anything you might routinely take)
  2. A list of your medications
  3. A list of your medical conditions
  4. Copies of your health insurance card and driver’s license.
  5. A list of contact information for critical family members/friends/doctors, in case your cell phone dies
  6. A glucose meter, test strips, lancing device, and lancets if testing your blood sugar (this is true for patients on continuous glucose monitors as well, to have as a backup).
  7. An extra pair of glasses (if needed)
  8. Drinking water (available in emergency pouches) enough for at least 3 days.
  9. Food bars/other easily carried nonperishable snacks
  10. Glucose tablets or gels (if on insulin or other medication that can cause low blood sugar)
  11. Insulin pump/sensor supplies if needed.
  12. A change of underwear and socks.
  13. Cash

 

For patients taking insulin, a small insulated bag (such as a child’s lunch bag) should be kept in the refrigerator. I suggest a bit of redundancy with the backpack above. For patients requiring insulin, the insulin kit is life-sustaining, and if only one is grabbed, it must be this one. This should contain:

 

  1. Unopened insulin pens/vials for all types of insulin taken. For those on pumps, this must include long-acting insulin such as Lantus with instructions on what dose to take
  2. Syringes/pen needles
  3. Glucagon
  4. Glucose tablets/gel
  5. A food bar or two
  6. A few pouches of water
  7. Meter without battery in it/strips/lancing device/lancets (put here rather than in backpack if packing both—this way it always comes with the insulin)
  8. An extra battery for your meter should be taped to the outside of your refrigerator in case the one in your meter develops condensation. Be sure to grab it when you leave.

 

Make sure your refrigerator is strapped to the wall, so if it falls over your supplies won’t be trapped inside. Otherwise, put the insulin bag in a small refrigerator that you can easily pick up.

 

If, in an emergency, only regular and NPH insulin are available, reduce the doses by 20% compared to your usual doses of insulin. NPH (intermediate-acting insulin—peaks in 6-10 hours, is cloudy) and regular insulin (short-acting) are available at Walmart as ReliOn brand insulin. You can get them without a prescription for $25 apiece. Be sure to get syringes as well. See this guide for determining new doses: https://www.diabetes.org/sites/default/files/2019-08/switching-between-insulin.pdf

 

For exceedingly thorough preparers, it is helpful to have a portable solar charger panel and power bank (available at REI or other outdoor camping stores/Amazon).

 

Organizations to contact if you need help:

 

1.  The American Diabetes Association: 1-800-DIABETES.

2.  Diabetes Disaster Response Coalition

 

When emergencies occur in other areas, patients often ask how they can donate their insulin and other diabetes supplies. We recommend the Insulin For Life USA group—contact them to explore how you can help.

 

 

 

 

 

Preparation for the "Big One" and Other Natural Disasters

Preparation for the "Big One" and Other Natural Disasters