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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

An insulin pump and infusion set. The infusion...
Emergency Preparedness for Those With Type-1 Diabetes

People with Type-1 Diabetes are very vulnerable to any type of disaster event. These diabetics are entirely dependant on insulin to live. They are also dependant on battery powered glucose meters/test strips to monitor blood sugar, and battery powered insulin pumps or a supply of syringes to self-medicate. Additionally - insulin supplies must be kept refrigerated or their life expectancy will decrease.

Those with type-1 diabetes are especially challenged when planning their preparations:
  • Supplies - you need to have stocked up enough testing equipment, insulin, and methods of administrating the insulin for however long you anticipate the "event" to take place.
  • Storage of supplies must be correct - all supplies must be kept dry, sanitary and insulin must be refrigerated/cooled.
  • Stress from a disaster situation can cause blood sugars to be erratic - meaning that blood sugars must be monitored closer and more often than during normal times.
First - preparing a "diabetes survival kit" involves having a cooler available to fill with ice/ice packs once the power goes out to store all insulin. Additionally - a 12V refrigerator must be available as a back up to the cooler just in case the power is out past the life of the ice. Modern insulin shelf life is drastically shortened if left at room temperature. 12V refrigerators can be purchased for around $80 and plug into a 12V plug in an automobile. This is critical.
Second - a small backpack or fanny pack filled with the rest of your supplies must be organized. This fanny pack contains syringes, insulin pump sites, insulin cartridges, batteries, alcohol pads, lancets, spare pump, at least 2 glucose meters, test strips, and at least 2 "stickers" for obtaining blood droplet. The total amount of supplies really depends on what you are preparing for.
Third - it is very important that a Glucagon Emergency Kit is available as well as candy or glucose tablets in case blood sugar drops dangerously low.  All members of your group need to know what to do incase blood sugar drops to extreme low numbers.
Anyone that has read the fantastic book “One Second After” clearly understands the importance of stockpiling and maintaining supplies for those type-1 diabetics in your group or family. It is rather simple – without insulin – they will die. Supplies must be stockpiling and backup systems for caring for those supplies must be put in place.
One problem that is confronted by most all "survivalist" diabetics involves getting extra supplies. Due to needing a prescription for insulin - you cannot simply buy extra. Talk to your doctor and ask them to write the prescriptions for a little higher than anticipated use so as to build a back up supply. Extra glucose meters can often be obtained for free from doctors - or purchased for very little money at Wal-Mart, pharmacies, and the internet. Test strips are very expensive. Again - ask your doctor to overwrite your prescription by 50 test strips per month to build your supply. Tell your doctor that you have to supply school as well at home possibly. Often test strips can be found on eBay at a great discount. Also “store brand" testers and test strips can be purchased on sale and on clearance.
Below is an example checklist for a typical person with Type-1 Diabetes considering a 3 month supply level:

2        Glucose Meters w/3 extra batteries
3    months Test Strips (blood tests per day x 90 days = test strip qty)
30   Insulin Insertion Sights
2        Sight Serters
1         Alcohol Pads/box
2        months of insulin used daily
3        month Syringes  (shots per day x 90 days = syringe strip qty)
2        Insulin Pumps – if used
3        months Insulin Cartridges – if used

Some diabetics take more than 1 type of insulin. No matter your regimen, it is important that you have extra supplies as well as a method to safely store them until things return to normal.

On a final note – it is important that diabetics take care of themselves before a disaster strikes as well as after. During a disaster is not the time to begin to experience complications with diabetes that was preventable with the correct behavior before the disaster struck. You also would not want to experience a low blood sugar in the midst of a fire fight either. Checking your blood sugar regularly, eating right, and effective insulin dosing is critical to short term and well as long term health.

Take care all -
Rourke
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