Disaster Preparedness for Those With Diabetes
Natural disasters seem to be on the rise. They are not only happening more frequently, but also seem to be increasing in severity. There can be no more “IF” when it comes to disasters, there can be only “WHEN”.
Those with diabetes can’t prepare the same as those without. They require more planning and extra supplies but with the correct planning in place, you can not only survive during these times, but also maintain control over your diabetes. Following a disaster, it may not be as easy as going to the hospital or pharmacy for your next vial of insulin.
Todays guide is going to look at ways that you can prepare should a disaster befall you.
How Much Should You Stock?
The general rule of thumb is that you should start with a minimum of a three-day supply of necessities. This can be added to over time as nobody knows what or how severe the next disaster will be and government help may not be immediate.
Your food, water, medicines, batteries, and other supplies aren’t going to last forever so it is important that you check, replace, or replenish your emergency supplies at least once a year. Stock up with supplies that have the longest shelf life possible. Many medicines do not have a long shelf life. It is important to ensure you always have an unexpired supply of the medicines you use.
Medical Supplies List
Make sure that you always have the following medical supplies readily available.
- Copies of prescriptions
- All medications that you need daily along with insulin or pills
- Alcohol swabs
- Cotton balls and tissues
- Blood sugar meter
- Blood sugar diary
- Insulin pump supplies (if needed)
- Strips for your meter
- Urine ketone testing strips
- Lancing device and lancets
- Quick acting carbohydrate (for example, glucose tablets, orange juice, etc.)
- Longer lasting carbohydrate sources (for example, cheese and crackers)
- Glucagon Emergency Kit (if on insulin)
- Empty hard plastic detergent bottle with cap to dispose used lancets and syringes.
Along with your medical supplies, there are some basic items that should be in everybody’s preparedness kit. Use the following list to get yourself started on the right track.
- Binder with all emergency information and contacts list
- Flashlight with extra batteries
- Matches / candles
- Extra pair of glasses
- First-aid kit
- Female sanitary supplies
- Copy of health insurance cards
- Heavy work gloves
- Important family documents
- Clothing and bedding
- Radio with extra batteries
- Cell phone
Without water, you won’t last very long, it’s that simple. Following a disaster, local water sources may be cut off which is why water storage is so important. The general guidelines are that you should store one gallon per person per day. Half of that is for drinking and half for cooking and sanitation. Again, if you can store more, by all means, do it. Check out our post “Survival Basics – Water for Survival” for more information on storage and preparation.
First off, only store what you actually eat. Try to stock a minimum of 1,200 calories per person per day and more for anyone who is pregnant or nursing. If the power goes out, use the food from the fridge first and then the food from the freezer.
Canned goods with a long shelf-life are ideal. Put any boxed foods in waterproof storage bags and also keep cooking and eating utensils, a manual can opener, and waterproof matches in your emergency kit. This supply should be checked yearly with anything expired being replaced.
If you have diabetes, be aware that most “survival” foods are high in calories and likely will raise your blood glucose more than your regular meals. The stress of the situation also can elevate your blood glucose.
Look at the following list to give yourself some ideas of what to store.
- Peanut butter
- Powdered milk
- 2 6-pack packages cheese and crackers or 1 jar soft cheese
- Dry, unsweetened cereal
- 6 cans regular soda
- 6 cans diet soda
- 6-pack canned orange or apple juice
- 6 pack parmalat milk
- 6 cans “lite” or water packed fruit
- 1 spoon, fork and knife per person
- Disposable cups
- 4 packages of glucose tablets or small hard candies for low blood sugar
- 1 can tuna, salmon, chicken, nuts per person
- Mechanical can opener
If your usual source of heat is cut off during a disaster you will need to look for other ways to keep warm. If you have a fireplace, keep a stockpile of wood. Pack blankets, sleeping bags, extra gloves and socks in your kit as well.
Include at least one complete change of clothing and footwear for the season. Rain gear for wet weather is helpful. You also can modify large trash bags into ponchos.
Insulin and blood glucose meters are vulnerable to cold. If insulin freezes, it is rendered permanently useless, and meters can stop functioning in very cold temperatures. An insulated carrying case — the same type used to keep insulin cool — also can help protect insulin from extreme cold.
Along with your main kit you should keep a well stocked first-aid kit. This should include, at a minimum, the following item.
- Adhesive bandages of various sizes
- A 50 x 90 sterile dressing
- Gauze roller bandages
- 30 x 30 or 40 x 40 sterile gauze pads
- Elastic bandages
- Antibacterial hand wipes
- Antiseptic wipes (for wound or skin cleaning)
- Several pairs of non-latex gloves
- Adhesive tape
- Antibacterial ointment
- Cold packs
- CPR breathing barrier
Include small amounts of any over-the-counter medicines you might need.
If the disaster is severe enough, you may not be able to stay in your home. Set up a buddy system with friends or relatives now so that you will have somewhere to stay. Ideally, you should have both a local buddy and one who lives outside the geographic area.
You also should pack a tent or tarps in your kit for short-term shelter. Your home kit should include basic tools such as a shovel, pry bar, hammer and nails, manual screwdriver and screws, duct tape, marking pen, hard hat, work gloves, safety goggles, dust masks, and a wrench that can be used to shut off your gas and water connections.
Power outages are common after a disaster so always have a flashlight and extra batteries stored with your kit. If possible, purchase a solar powered or hand crank flashlight so no matter what, you will always have light.
We have all become used to being able to pick up a phone or switch on the computer as a means of communication but what if these won’t work?
Since it is likely you will have no means of outside communication for hours or days after a disaster, choose a meeting place with your loved ones ahead of time. Also, agree on a second meeting place in case your first choice is not reachable.
Pack a radio in your emergency kit that is powered by solar, hand crank, or batteries, and be sure to pack extra batteries. This will allow you to stay up-to-date with the current situation.
For more on communications, check out our post “Communication During a Disaster“.
Hygiene and Sanitation
The best way to avoid spreading sickness through your household is to keep your hands as clean as possible. You should have water stored so wash your hands frequently with soap and water.
Remember to include personal hygiene items such as a toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo, comb, brush, contact lens supplies, and feminine supplies in your emergency kit.
Also keep a bucket, a portable toilet seat, toilet paper, and a box of large trash bags in your home kit.
For more information, check out our post “Hygiene and Sanitation Following a Disaster“.