Preparing for Disasters with Type 1 Diabetes

diabetes emergency listThis year we have seen many mandatory evacuations because of both hurricanes and fires.  When you live with diabetes in your home, how do you prepare for disasters? Do you have a list of evacuation supplies checked off and ready to go?

People in the hurricane states, often have a emergency tote or bag that they can grab on the way out of the door but remembering everything that you could need can be a challenge.  Over the years, we have come up with a detailed list of evacuation supplies for people with diabetes on the Diabetes Advocacy website.  In lieu of recent events, I thought that it might be a good time to go over some of the items with you.

Keep a container near the door

As I mentioned, it is important to have all of your supplies in a quick, easy to grab container.  Evacuations can be planned, but sometimes you are only given minutes to have all of your valuables ready to leave.  Make sure your diabetes bag is always in the same place so that you won’t waste valuable time trying to find it.

Packing Basics

Make sure that you have some of the basics like a Frio pack if you live in a warm climate.  You will also want a flashlight and spare batteries in case your area loses power.  Candles and wooden matches can also provide light and heat if need be.

A first aid kit should also be in your emergency container. While you may have a lot of diabetes supplies, other medical emergencies can happen and basic first aid is a must.  Don’t forget to add anti-diarrhea and anti-nausea medication to your kit.  You should also have copies of all prescriptions in case you are away from your home pharmacy and need to access your medication refills.

Food and drink

We have all seen the images of people stocking up on cases of water and in an emergency it is vital.  If you have drinkable tap water, fill up milk jugs, juice jugs and other items with water to take with you.  Also pack juice packs, tinned food as well as cheese and cracker snacks. If you pack tinned items, don’t forget a hand can-opener as well.

Diabetes Supplies

It is recommended that you pack two weeks worth of diabetes supplies with you during an evacuation.  Consider bring a spare meter, spare batteries, alcohol wipes, pump supplies, insulin, syringes, ketone strips, and medical tape.

Other items to remember

Don’t forget to bring spare blankets, cash in case bank machines are down, and pet food for your furry family members.

I am sure that I have forgotten a few things but I would suggest that you view the Diabetes Advocacy Emergency page and print off a copy of the emergency supplies checklist.  This will help you feel a bit more prepared should a disaster hit your community.

9/11 Remembered

September 11, 2001. Is there any adult alive who does not remember where they were on that fateful morning?

I was in Wal-Mart.  I had left my house early to drive to the airport 2.5 hours away to pick up my grandmother.  She was visiting from the other side of the country.  My oldest son was in school and my youngest was with me for the ride. 

I was looking at paper towels when my cell phone rang. It was my husband.  He said “A plane has hit one of the towers in New York. There has been a terrorist attack.”  I told him he was crazy.  The Americans would never allow terrorists into their air space.  It had to be some weird joke on the radio.  He agreed that the possibility of terrorists doing something of that magnitude was incredible and it had to be wrong. We hung up and I continued to grab a few things before the next leg of my trip.

My phone rang a second time.  It was a woman from Air Canada.  “We have your grandmother here.  We can’t fly her to you because all air traffic has been grounded.  We will be putting her on a boat and you can pick her up tomorrow morning.” 

What? The terrorist attack was real? Planes grounded? The attack was real?

I spoke to my grandmother who was in great spirits and excited to experience an Atlantic Ocean ferry boat crossing.  My son and I headed home and like many others, I alternated between being glued to the tv and checking my computer for updates from friends.

I had recently found an online support group. The people there had not only become my lifeline, but also my family.  We were frantic to hear from people that we “knew” living and working near the towers in New York. I had a cousin who was an NYC police officer. I had to find out if he was working that day or safe with his family on Long Island. Another cousin was due to go to traffic court that day in one of the Towers. Did he go before the collapse? It was a day of chaos, fear and some relief.

By the end of the day, everyone was accounted for.  There were a lot of prayers for those lost as well as those who made it out alive.  Soon there was a new fear that began to permeate.  I live on an island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.  It was easy for me to be cut off from the rest of the world–the rest of my family.

My youngest son relied on insulin to live.  What if something happened? What if the terrorist attacks continued? Would they target pharmaceutical factories? What if I couldn’t get insulin? How would my son survive? Could I feed him no or low carb foods? Would he be okay? I could feel the panic. Other friends with children with diabetes were much more creative. One friend investigated getting insulin from rabbits to use for her child.

Thankfully we never had to be concerned with any of that. It has been 12 years.  My grandmother has passed on.  Each year, those who survived remember.  Those of us who watched from our living rooms remember and say an extra prayer. Once diabetes enters your life, its funny how it permeates everything including memories of disasters.