Why are people with diabetes at greater risk in an emergency?
The body processes blood glucose differently in an emergency. Stress, sudden changes in levels of activity and possible lack of access to your regular food mean you may need to adjust your medication during and after an emergency.
If you take insulin, you should consult a health professional before adjusting your dose. If no health professionals are available during or after an emergency, monitor your blood glucose closely and seek medical attention as soon as possible.
What if someone is unable to manage their diabetes in an emergency?
If diabetes is not managed during and after an emergency, changes in blood glucose levels can lead to hypoglycaemia (low blood glucose), or hyperglycaemia (high blood glucose) and ketoacidosis (very high blood glucose).
These conditions can cause loss of consciousness and longer term health problems that are less obvious. If left untreated, they can be fatal.
Preparing a Diabetes Emergency Kit
A Diabetes Emergency Kit is a portable, insulated bag that holds medical supplies, food and water for at least 14 days, and a copy of your Diabetes Emergency Plan. The Kit should be updated every three months.
Why do the Plan and Kit need to be updated every three months?
The Diabetes Emergency Plan and Kit should be updated every three months to make sure food and medical supplies are within their use-by date, and your medical information is current.
Preparing a Diabetes Emergency Kit and keeping it up to date will also save time: if disaster suddenly strikes and you need to leave at short notice, the Kit is all you need to take with you.
Why do I need to carry food and medical supplies for at least 14 days?
Natural disasters and emergency situations can last for days or weeks. In extreme cases there may be no medication or food available and no way of getting medical attention.
Why do I need protective clothes like heavy gloves and socks?
People with diabetes have a higher risk of developing complications from skin wounds and sores but may not notice an injury at first. Scratches, insect bites and blisters must be treated early to prevent serious infection.
Do I need insulin if I have not eaten?
You should continue testing your blood glucose levels as usual, even if you have not eaten. Testing is the only way to know how much insulin to take in an emergency situation.
How should I store insulin in an emergency situation?
Try and keep insulin as cool as possible, but make sure it does not freeze if you are using ice. Do not use frozen insulin.
What if I cannot keep my insulin cool?
Once opened, insulin vials can be kept at room temperature (15-25 degrees) for up to 28 days. Insulin must not be left in direct sunlight.
In an emergency situation you may have to use insulin that was stored above room temperature, but discard it as soon as properly stored insulin is available.