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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Emergency Preparedness for Diabetics

Original Article

If you are one of the millions of people living with diabetes, you are used to planning ahead and sticking to a schedule. Monitoring your blood sugar levels, planning meals, eating at regular intervals, and taking medication are all routines that are woven into your daily life. But what if disaster strikes without warning? Would you be ready to properly care for your diabetes? Emergency preparedness for diabetes requires some special consideration.
Evacuations, loss of electrical power, being stranded, or getting lost can all be stressful situations. These situations can upset routines and may create circumstances requiring irregular meal times, excessive exercise, and some quick thinking on your feet. The stress of an emergency can quickly compound any blood glucose issues. You will need to stay fueled up and keep a close eye on your blood sugar. Plan now to make your diabetes management as worry free as possible.

Remember the 72 hour rule: You should have three days worth of supplies stored in your survival kit, including food, water, clothing, and your diabetes supplies. In fact, you should stock twice as many supplies for your condition as you think you would need. Keep ice packs in your freezer and a portable cooler to pack your refrigerated medications in if needed. However, insulin should last for 30 days unrefrigerated.
Here are some recommendations from the American Diabetes Association to add to your emergency preparedness kit:
  • Oral medications, insulin, insulin delivery supplies, lancets, extra batteries for yourmeter and/or pump, placed in an easy to identify container that is easy to get into
  • Consider packing an extra glucagon emergency kit
  • Quick acting source of glucose, such as glucose tablets, pretzels, crackers, raisins, orpackets of honey
  • A list of emergency contacts, including family and friends familiar with your situationand your physician
  • Sturdy footwear, heavy gloves, and extra socks to protect your hands and feet
  • Rubbing alcohol, swabs and hand sanitizer
  • Physician’s orders, copies of prescriptions, and a copy of your IDYour long term food storage should be stocked with a variety of foods including freeze dried food, canned food, and dehydrated food. It should contain as many of the “diabetes superfoods” as possible, such as beans, citrus fruit, sweet potatoes, berries, fish, whole grains and nuts. These will provide plenty of fiber in your diet.
    If you find yourself in a disaster situation, try to stay to a regular schedule for meals as much as possible. Do not skip meals, even if sick. Try to consume some food with carbohydrates or sugar. Stay hydrated, which may become difficult if there is a lack of a water source. Hydration is very important in controlling blood sugar.
Wearing some type of medical identification that addresses your medical needs is always recommended, and becomes even more important in an emergency. Inform your friends and family ahead of time about your diabetes and where your survival kit is. Be sure that your child’s school or day care has a copy of the physician’s orders if they are diabetic. See that there is a clear plan in place about who is to assist your child if there is an emergency.
People with diabetes are more prone to infection, and it is imperative that you watch any wounds closely. Always wear sturdy footwear and avoid walking in bare feet. Check your feet often for swelling, sores or blisters. Seek medical help if possible in the event of open wounds.
Write reminders to yourself about being diligent in your diabetes control and place them in your evacuation and/or disaster plan. You will have a lot on your mind and plenty to deal with, and forgetting to monitor your blood glucose and take medication would not help your situation. Emergency preparedness for diabetes should be taken just as seriously as your day to day diabetes management.

-Gary Jenkins-

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