Diabetes Disaster Plan

One little problem with disasters is that when they strike it’s too late to start preparing for them. You never know when or where they will hit.

Those of us who have diabetes are particularly vulnerable, because we have so many things that we have to consider. That’s why the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists working with Eli Lilly and Company created the “Power of Prevention: Diabetes Disaster Plan.”

Todd Frieze, M.D., who practices diabetes, endocrinology, and metabolism in Biloxi, Mississippi, spoke on the organization’s disaster plan for those of us with diabetes this morning at a media briefing during the last full day of the AACE’s annual meeting in Boston. He said that they developed this checklist of items that we need to plan for after thousands of people were caught unprepared as a result of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Dr. Frieze Plans

In such an emergency we may well be totally on our own. “When something does happen, access to medical care may be curtailed or absent completely,” Dr. Frieze said. He noted that in 2005 his patients were out of touch with him for seven weeks.

Here is the checklist. As the Boy Scouts say, “Be Prepared:”

Prepare a portable diabetes disaster kit that is both insulated and waterproof containing the following items:

  • List of all medical conditions and prior surgeries.
  • Information about your diabetes, including past and present medications, any adverse reactions to medications, and past and present complications.
  • List of all your health care professionals with their contact information.
  • Letter from your diabetes health care professionals detailing most recent diabetes medication regimen (especially for insulin) and containing most recent laboratory results.
  • List of all medications, which should also include pharmacies and active prescription information and eligible refills.
  • A 30-day supply of medications for diabetes and all other medical conditions. This should include insulin, oral anti-diabetic agents and severe hypoglycemia emergency kit (if prescribed by your physician).
  • Blood glucose testing supplies including lancets, test strips and preferably at least two glucose meters with extra batteries.
  • A cooler and at least four refreezable gel packs for storing insulin (do not use dry ice when storing your medication).
  • Empty plastic bottles and/or sharps container for syringes, needles, and/or lancets.
  • Source of carbohydrate to treat hypoglycemic reactions (e.g. glucose tablets). Ideally should also have one or two day’s supply of food that does not require refrigeration (e.g. non-perishable).
  • At least a three-day supply of bottled water.
  • Pen and/or pencil and notepad to record blood glucoses and any other test results and any new signs/symptoms suggesting medical problems.
  • Additional medical/first aid supplies like bandages, cotton swabs, dressings, and topical medications (antibiotic ointments or creams) to treat cuts or abrasions.

Other recommendations:

  • Wear shoes at all times and examine your feet often for infection.
  • Make sure that all immunizations including tetanus are updated.
  • Pack extra comfortable clothing including undergarments.
  • Take a cellular phone with extra batteries for you and family members.
  • Consider choosing a designated meeting place in case you are separated from your family and unable to reach them by phone.

This article is based on an earlier version of my article published by HealthCentral.

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