At the end of 2012, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) estimated that 22.3 million people were living with type 1 or type 2 Diabetes in the United States. In fact, Dr. John Anderson of the ADA states, “I know of no other disease that is increasing at (about) 8% per year.” The growing rate of Diabetes among Americans is an important issue for emergency preparedness gurus to consider when addressing preparedness needs.
So, what can we do to adequately prepare for our families’ various health needs in an emergency?
The American College of Endocrinology (ACE) and Lilly Diabetes outlined the importance of emergency planning for people with Diabetes and other health needs at ACE’s annual meeting (on May 1st). These two programs began collaborating after Hurricane Katrina and led to the creation of the EmPower “My Diabetes Emergency Plan.”
The Emergency Plan
“My Diabetes Emergency Plan” is a comprehensive checklist (available in both English and Spanish) that helps those with diabetes prepare in advance for big and small emergency situations. In addition to blood glucose testing supplies, insulin, and medical records, some other suggested items to include in your emergency kit are:
- Empty plastic bottles for syringes
- A 2-day supply of non-perishable foods (peanut butter, cheese crackers, meal replacement bars and shakes)
- Soda, honey, and hard candies for possible hypoglycemic reactions.
- Cooler or insulated fanny pack to store insulin
The purpose of this emergency plan is to prepare users for a range of emergency situations from severe weather to car trouble to power outages. So, you should constantly update the supplies in your emergency kit. Updating medical supplies is especially important for those with Type 1 diabetes that must take insulin regularly. However, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) suggests that since insulin is a prescribed medication that you cannot store extra supplies of insulin unless your prescription and doctor allows it. But there are general guidelines and precautions that you can take.
Guidelines and Precautions for Insulin Users
According to the FDA, insulin can be stored in a refrigerated area at approximately 36 to 46 degrees F until the expiration date on the package. If there is no access to refrigeration, “all of the available insulin can be left unrefrigerated (between 59 and 86 degrees F) for up to 28 days and still maintain potency.” The ADA also suggests that if your glucose levels go too low that you do not want to inject insulin, but you can stock up on glucose pills and candies to help raise these levels. For more information on how to use insulin during an emergency situation, check out the websites listed at the end of this post.
Sometimes in emergency situations hospitals provide insulin to patients who have their prescriptions and medical records with them. The FDA suggests that it is ok to use a different brand of insulin if your doctor has discussed and prescribed alternatives to you. This is why it is important to include up to date medical records in your emergency kit and to talk to your physician about these alternatives as the Empower “My Diabetes Emergency Plan” suggests.
Dr. Lawrence Blonde, endocrinologist, member of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE) and fellow of ACE, states, "Our goal is to encourage people with diabetes to take steps in advance of an emergency to protect their health. It only takes a few minutes to prepare an emergency kit, and now with the added download availability of our checklist in Spanish, even more people can be ready." In addition to this comprehensive plan and checklist, there is also a step-by-step video about how to build your emergency kit that you can watch on the Empower website.
Learn more about this exciting press release and the ongoing conversation about Prepping for the various health needs of your family at the Eli Lilly and Company website
Click here to see the “My Diabetes Emergency Plan” checklist
Click here to see information on insulin use during an emergency situation: