With the constant possibility of a natural disaster occurring, everyone should take steps to be prepared when the worst happens, especially if you have a health condition such as diabetes where you need insulin or medication to live. This fact was proven in the case of Elliott Yamin a former “American Idol”contestant who has type 1 diabetes. Yamin was stranded in Santiago, Chile for an undetermined amount of time after an earthquake struck. He only had enough supplies packed to treat his diabetes for one day. When it became clear that his plans would be delayed for multiple days, the singer became immediately aware of how serious and fast his health could deteriorate without proper medical attention.
Emergency situations caused by natural disasters are no joke. They can leave one stranded without proper medical supplies for days and in some cases even weeks. For someone with diabetes, without the proper planning, this can be fatal. So what should you do to prepare for an emergency situation?
Pack Smart for Travel
The American Diabetes Association provides several tips for people with diabetes planning to travel. These tips are to prepare you for an emergency situation similar to the situation that Yamin found himself in, in Chile.
- Pack at least twice the amount of blood testing supplies and medication that you think you will need.
- Pack your supplies in your carry on and keep it with you at all times so that your medication remains in easy reach.
- Keep your diabetes identity card and a list of your medications in your carry on.
- Keep a well wrapped water proof protected snack such as crackers and peanut butter in your carry on.
Be Prepared, Not Sorry
When it comes to natural disasters striking at home, it is better to be too prepared. To help advise people with diabetes on how they should prepare, the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE) and the Eli Lilly Company put together a preparedness checklist for Medical News Today. They say to create a diabetes disaster kit that is waterproof, insulated and portable, and to store it in an easy to reach location in your home. Here are their tips on what to include:
- A 30-day supply of your medications and testing supplies including insulin, insulin pump supplies, glucagon, syringes, glucose tablets, testing strips, glucose meters, extra batteries for your insulin pump and glucose meter, and any other supplies you use on a daily basis.
- A cooler and re-freezing gel packets to store your insulin.
- A three day supply of water.
- A one to two day supply of nonperishable food to treat hypoglycemia.
- Your diabetes identification card.
- A list of your medications and your current regimen including your pharmacy information and refills available.
- Your health care professionals reach or contact information.
Unfortunately sometimes the best laid plans go wrong. If you find yourself without an adequate medical supply in an emergency situation there are several things you can do. The American Diabetes Association recommends keeping yourself as hydrated as possible until help arrives. To stretch your insulin supply, avoid all carbohydrates and instead eat high protein foods like peanut butter. When help arrives, identify yourself as having diabetes since emergency medical personnel are trained to treat people with diabetes in emergency situations and they should have medications on hand to help you.
If you are stranded without medical supplies, but you have communication access with others, try to get in touch with one of several agencies that can help you get additional diabetes supplies. Yamin contacted the United States Embassy and was able to get a six day supply of his medication. Other places that can help are the Red Cross and the International Diabetes Federation. In addition, the Islets of Hope provides a comprehensive list of emergency relief organizations that may be able to help provide emergency medical supplies for people with diabetes.