Life or Death: Creating a Diabetes Survival Kit - Teststripz
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Life or Death: Creating a Diabetes Survival Kit

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
~Benjamin Franklin

Diabetes Emergency

Quite amazingly, many Americans still have no idea what diabetes is or the threats it poses every day to those struggling with the disease. Most still consider it “a small sugar problem,” which infuriates people to no end.

While this blog is more pertinent to those living with Type 1 Diabetes (T1D), many of the suggestions also apply to those with Type 2 Diabetes (T2D). Especially for those taking insulin.

I just finished reading an interesting and somewhat disturbing novel called “One Second After.”

Consider diabetes in a post-apocalyptic world. Not zombies. While the Walking Dead is terrific, Rick Grimes isn’t going to show up with a truckload of medical supplies. There are several events that could result in a global meltdown… the best example is an Electro-Magnetic Pulse (EMP), which is the catastrophic by-product of a Nuclear Bomb explosion.

In the book “One Second After” by William R. Forstchen, a small town in North Carolina is trying to survive the repercussions following an EMP. I got the idea to write this blog because of the struggles faced by the main character who has a daughter with Type 1 Diabetes.

The book is great in itself… especially if you like survivalist reading. As the characters try to survive without food, water, cars, or electricity, the main character also has to deal with the challenge of finding and storing insulin.

There Without insulin (or proper storage), those with Type 1 Diabetes will die. It’s the only book I’ve come across that brings to life the reality of diabetes. As well as the need for Emergency insulin supplies.

Rule 1 – Be Prepared

Have a Go-Bag ready. You can’t manage T1D without insulin, and it’s very difficult to monitor you Blood Glucose Levels (BGLs) without test strips and lancets. Even if you use an insulin pump, you should learn how to inject insulin in case of emergencies.

Rule 2 – Be Smart

Always have a list of your current doctors, medications, and health conditions. You may need to rely on someone for help if things get really bad. Provide at least one person in your family with this information as well.

Rule 3 – Act Fast

As my Mom always reminds me, it’s better to have and not need, than need and not have. This is especially critical with diabetes. If you get stuck in a blizzard or hurricane, stock up on supplies if you can. You don’t want to wait until the roads are closed and the electricity goes out.

Rule 4 – Think Long-Term

While it may be excessive to create an Insulin Bunker, there are other ways to prepare for a real disaster. Prepare a portable diabetes disaster kit that is both waterproof and insulated.

Photo courtesy of Korey Stringer
Photo courtesy of Korey Stringer

The list below is based on information provided by the American College of Endocrinology:

1. 30-Day supply of medications for managing diabetes, including insulin, oral anti-diabetic agents, and a severe hypoglycemia kit (if prescribed by your physician)

2. Cooler with as many re-freezable gel packs for storing Insulin

3. At least 2 Blood Glucose Meters with extra batteries

4. Glucose Test Strips and Lancets

5. Source of carbohydrates to treat hypoglycemic reactions (e.g. Glucose Tablets) and a 2-3 day supply of non-perishable foods

6. As much water as you can manage

7. Pen and notepad to record readings

8. Additional medical supplies such as bandages, alcohol swabs, dressings, and topical medication to treat cuts or abrasions

9. A pair of comfortable and sturdy shoes

10. List of all Medical conditions, medications, and contact information for your physicians

You should also create a predetermined meeting place in case you’re separated from family and the phones aren’t working.

Insulin NEEDS to be stored in a cold environment until you’re ready to use it. The following information on was taken from the Joslin Clinic website:

“Although manufacturers recommend storing your insulin in the refrigerator, injecting cold insulin can sometimes make the injection more painful. To counter that, you can store the bottle of insulin you are using at room temperature (36-86º) for about one month. Do not keep bottles in a hot place like near a heater or in direct sunlight. Also, do not keep them near ice or in places where the insulin may freeze.

If you buy more than one bottle at a time, store the extra bottles in the refrigerator. Then, when needed, take out the bottle ahead of time so it is ready for your next injection. Unopened bottles are good until the expiration date on the box and/or bottle.

Do NOT use insulin after it has been kept at room temperature for longer than a month. Also, do not use insulin after the expiration date printed on the bottle.”

I’m sure there’s more to add to the list, but I hope this provides a good start. Hope for the best but prepare for the worst!

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