Hot Tips for Managing Diabetes in the Deep Winter Cold

winter tips with diabetes The weather outside is frightful! The temperatures are dropping and we are in the midst of deep winter cold.  Managing to stay warm can be a challenge on days like these.  How do you manage your diabetes as well? Here are a few things to remember…

Insulin freezes.

Insulin is liquid. It can freeze. Make sure not to leave insulin in your car.  When you are outside, keep it close to your body. This also means that if you are pumping, make sure to tuck your pump close to your body to keep things running properly.

If you think your insulin has been froze, throw it out! Don’t take any chances.  It will not work as efficiently once the proteins have been frozen.

Keep warm!

That means keeping your diabetes devices warm as well! I just told you to keep the insulin in your pump warm, but did you also know that your pump (like your phone) also needs to stay warm? Keep your pump and CGM under your winter clothing and as close to your body as you can.

If you are using a tSlim pump, watch for the low temperature warning on the pump.  This will tell you that your pump is not functioning as it should because of the cold.

Check your blood glucose level.

I know, you normally check but when it is cold out make sure that you still check…a lot.  Some people see their bg levels rise in the cold weather while others see it go up.  Don’t guess or go by how you feel–check then adjust with food or insulin.

Before you check, make sure that your meter is warm as well.  Glucometers function poorly below 40F (4C).  If you feel that your glucometer could be too cold, warm it in your armpit for a few minutes. It will quickly return to a functioning state.

Keep your hands warm.

It can be hard to check your blood glucose levels when fingers are cold and blood isn’t circulating properly.  Keep your hands warm and toasty to help making finger sticks a bit easier.  Wear warm gloves. You may want to consider using  mitts that have removable fingers to make it easier to check .

removable finger gloves for checking blood glucose
We found these gloves online.

Carry glucose that won’t freeze.

Juice packs are a handy way to treat lows but when you are playing in the snow, glucose tablets and granola bars are probably a better choice.  Also make sure to keep your glucagon warm and safe.  Frozen glucagon will be as useful as frozen insulin.


Winter activities can be fun but make sure you are prepared.  Follow some of these few hot tips and  enjoy your time in Mother Nature’s deep freeze!


Bull’s Eye!

For days since my son has been home we have been working to get his bg levels straightened out.  We have been testing and questioning. Was the ice cream we had bolused correctly? Does he need a site change? That is a new site. Is it bad? What about that steak dinner we ate at 7pm? Is that causing a problem? How intense was that workout? Did he over compensate for activity? The list of question and possibilities were endless.  A concrete answer was much more elusive.

We decided to change his basal pattern. Imagine my surprise when I saw that he was using a “school” basal pattern.  What the heck? Did he accidentally switch when he was making changes over the phone last week? He was sure he didn’t.  I was at a loss but quickly made the change back to our “weekend” aka “vacation” basal pattern.  As I moved through the days of the week, I realized what had happened…weeks ago, when school was ending, we changed his rate over to all “weekend” BUT he had one day of school to do.  It was a Thursday and we left that day as a “school” day because it was! Unfortunately we forgot to change it over and all Thursdays since had been the wrong basals.

All was fixed. The basals were all as they should be.  I made a few small adjustments and life should be perfect!


What to do? We waited to see if the changes would take effect.

They didn’t.

We changed the site again.

We were out of ideas and my son was running way to high for my liking.  He felt okay but was getting tired of my telling him to test for ketones. It was time to break down and do an early site change.

The new site was put in.  A correction bolus was given. We continued on with our evening. We didn’t have to wait long to see results.  By the end of the movie we were watching, his readings were dropping back into range.  I tested 3 hours later…he was 6(108)!!! Wow! That was awesome. We hadn’t seen a six in a few days! I worried that we may have over fixed things. Would he drop? Two hours later I tested again.  He was 7.1(129).  This was amazing!!!  In range!  Perfect readings! Happy, happy dance!!!!

Could this really last? You betcha!!! When I got up a few hours later he was 6.7(121).  It was  a night of pure perfection! We had conquered diabetes for one night. His basal pattern was bang on! We had hit a bull’s eye!! Tomorrow may be different but I will take the victory while I can!

Barb and son 1 Diabetes 0
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