WHEN weather emergencies or natural disasters strike, millions are often left stranded in their homes without power, utilities, or a way out. Being caught unprepared for these types of situations can be devastating and potentially life-threatening, particularly for people with diabetes who are much more susceptible to illness when forced outside their normal care routine.
The American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE), currently in session at its 20th Annual Meeting and Clinical Congress in San Diego, has once again urged diabetics to be prepared for any eventuality.
No country or community is immune when calamity strikes, it was stressed at a press conference. The recent earthquake and tsunami followed by the Chernobyl-scale nuclear accident in Japan is just one example in the past month. Earlier, it was one of the most devastating winters in North America in recent history, with snowstorms wreaking havoc across the US causing transportation delays, power outages, and structural damage. And with the tornado season set to start this month, Americans now have another type of weather phenomenon with which to contend.
Indeed, many localized incidents may not find mention in the media, but these too affect diabetics in a big way. So it’s very critical that diabetics prepare for these events and remain ready for any eventuality for medical care and supplies are often in short supply in the aftermath of a natural disaster or weather emergency.
Following the destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the American College of Endocrinology (ACE) and Lilly Diabetes joined forces to assemble an emergency kit for people with diabetes. Called the Power of Prevention Diabetes Disaster Plan, it is a comprehensive checklist of items for people with diabetes to use in order to prepare for a potential disaster.
Since 2005, more than 10 million checklists have been distributed in the United States.
Advanced Planning is the Key
Since diabetics may only have a short bit of time during a disaster, you are encouraged to prepare a portable diabetes disaster kit that is insulated and waterproof. The checklist suggests that diabetics also have:
● Information about their diabetes, including past and current medications, complications and adverse reactions.
● A list of all medications, as well as pharmacy and active prescription information and eligible refills.
● A 30-day supply of diabetes medications, including insulin, oral anti-diabetic agents and a severe hypoglycemia emergency kit.
● A cooler and at least four refreezable gel packs for storing insulin, empty plastic bottles and/or sharps containers for syringes, needles and lancets.
● A source of carbohydrates to treat hypoglycemic reactions and a 1- or 2-day food supply that does not require refrigeration.
These are all critical things a diabetic needs to have together to take with them in case of an emergency.