May 13, 2011

Are You Ready for An Emergency?

In an email I received this week, the American Diabetes Association had a short list (too short for me) of diabetes supplies that you should have available in case of an emergency. Yes, those of us especially in the US, with the problems across the south with tornadoes and along the flooding Mississippi and other rivers need to take heed and be prepared. Other disasters can happen as well.

On August 27, 2010, I wrote about disaster preparedness and it is always good to review your plan. What bothers me about most plans, is the lack of cautions when they say to have the supplies where they can be gotten to in an emergency. For those of us on insulin, no caution or warning is made to make sure to keep the insulin refrigerated, or if not, that the insulin vials be rotated out and used before they can go bad. Insulin vials can be kept unrefrigerated for up to 28 days. Even if they are kept in the refrigerator, once the plastic cap is removed, the shelf life is 28 days.

This means that you must be able to use the vial before the end of 28 days. I normally use a vial in 7 to 10 days of one type and about 14 days of the other type. You will have to know your own usage rate to be able to rotate and use before they expire. The same would apply for other medications you inject. Normally 28 days is the unrefrigerated life for these unless clearly stated otherwise on the package. If not stated, ask your pharmacist about the unrefrigerated shelf life.

The ADA advice is still good for emergency preparedness. They suggest that a three day supply of diabetes supplies be kept in a clearly marked, and convenient, container to be carried with you when going to a shelter or evacuation. The ADA list which, depending on how you take care of your diabetes, could include oral medication, insulin, insulin delivery supplies, lancets, test strips, extra batteries for your meter, and a quick-acting source of glucose. Just don't forget to take the container with you and your meter.

The ADA did suggest something that a lot of others forget. They suggest putting a list of emergency contacts in the container and to wear a medical identification that will enable emergency medical personnel to identify and address your medical needs. They went on to say that while you are thinking about this to notify those around you about your diabetes as it could make a difference in a time of need, and how you might be treated for maintaining your good health.

To this, I would add a supply of other medications that you take, a list of each, and the purpose for taking them. Have this list in the container also. Also include a list of phone numbers for the pharmacy, doctors, and anyone else that could know where to get your supplies if the emergency extends for more than three days. A list of prescription numbers should also be considered and alternative pharmacies in the chain where you obtain your medications. Ask your pharmacist if there are other pharmacies that have access to your prescriptions within the chain of stores.

I would suggest reading my prior blog, ADA's PDF file and heeding the instructions that fit your needs. Some items can easily be overlooked, but I hope between this and my prior blog that you can put an effective and doable plan in place.
I have tried to post this the last two days, but this site has been read-only for a few days.  Apparently their maintenance took longer or did not work as planned.

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