When Hurricane Katrina struck last August, people with diabetes faced particular challenges, especially those using insulin. More than 20 million people in America have diabetes, and many others suffer with other chronic health conditions.
During this year’s hurricane and tornado season, Eli Lilly and Company, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of insulin, suggests that individuals with diabetes or any other chronic illness should follow the guidelines below, no matter where you live:
• Medicine and supplies should be stored in a defined location to be easily gathered if you must quickly evacuate home or work.
• Keep cool packs in your freezer to keep medicine cool.
• Compile an easy-to-reach kit including:
• Medical supplies: syringes, cotton balls, tissues, swabs, blood glucose testing strips, blood glucose meter, lancing device and lancets, urine ketone testing strips, items for your therapy and blood sugar monitoring
• An empty hard plastic bottle to dispose of syringes and lancets
• Cooler for insulin
• Pen and notebook
• Copies of prescriptions, insurance cards, medical information and contact list, including caregiver’s and physicians’ names and phone numbers
• Physician’s orders for your child’s care on file at school and in your disaster kit
• Glucagon emergency kit and fast-acting carbohydrate (glucose tablets, orange juice)
• Nonperishable food such as granola bars and water
• First-aid kit, flashlight, whistle, matches, candles, radio with batteries, work gloves
• Supplies for at least a week
• Something containing sugar in case you develop low blood sugar.
“No one can fully anticipate a natural disaster, but with preparation, people with diabetes can manage their disease,” said Dr. Sherry Martin, medical advisor, Eli Lilly and Company. “Taking the time to prepare could make a huge difference in an emergency.”
If disaster strikes, remember to:
• Maintain meal plan, keep hydrated.
• Monitor blood sugar and record numbers.
• Wear shoes and examine feet often. If a foot wound develops, seek medical attention immediately.
• If relocated, call your doctors as soon as possible to maintain the continuity of your medical care.
• Parents of children with diabetes should identify which school staff members will assist children in an emergency.
• If you are displaced, identify yourself immediately as a person with diabetes so authorities can provide medical care.