It is crucial for every family to have a disaster kit ready to go to meet the family food, water and medical needs for at least 3 days. For people with diabetes you need to have a diabetes disaster kit too! Although you can purchase special emergency kits, it’s easy to assemble your own and the quality of the food supplies will be better for people with diabetes. In addition to your basic living supplies you will also need to assemble a diabetes supplies kit. If you evacuate to a shelter there is no guarantee they will have the supplies on hand to deal with your condition. If you are sheltering at home you should be able to take care of your own medical needs for at least three days and possibly longer (e.g. hurricane Katrina).
Assemble the names, addresses and phone numbers of all the members of your medical team in one directory. This should include your primary care physician, endocrinologist, certified diabetes educator, nutritionist, dentist, ophthalmologist, and/or other specialists such as cardiologist, podiatrist, etc.
Prepare a list of all the medications you take including the correct spelling of the name, dosages and frequency, the doctor who prescribed them and your pharmacists name and number. You should also know what types of insulin, if you are insulin dependent, which you can substitute for your own brand. Include the contact information and policy numbers for your health insurance provider.
Carry a copy of those two lists in your wallet at all times and include in your emergency diabetes kit(s). Consider purchasing and wearing a medical alert ID. In an emergency, when you can’t speak for yourself, a medical alert bracelet can speak for you. It provides emergency professionals immediate information about your condition that could save your life! Nearly 95% of emergency responders look for a medical ID.
Prepare two diabetes emergency kits; one for the car and the other for the house. A small pack, plastic shoe box or other easy to carry container will do the trick. The car diabetes emergency kit can be left in the trunk, though you have to schedule periodic inventories to make sure the supplies have not expired.
The car is an important location for an emergency kit because you could be stuck in a blizzard such as the one that occurred in Chicago in 2011 stranding hundreds of motorists for over 12 hours. Or, Vermont last year, caught on the wrong side of massive flooding and road and bridge closures.
Diabetes Supply Kit
- Test strips, control solutions, back-up meter, extra batteries
- Alcohol swabs, lancets, bacterial wipes and syringes (if insulin dependent)
- Ketone test strips, ketone meter (and instructions on how to read) if necessary for monitoring your kidney function
- Pump supplies (if you use an insulin pump)
- Glucagon, glucose tabs or fast acting sugar for lows
- Copies of all user manuals and warranties for gadgets
- Medications (3 days minimum)
Basic Emergency Supplies
Absolutely Should Not Be Without…
- Diabetes Emergency Kit (duplicate for auto)
- Food (See below) (duplicate for auto at least one day supply)
- Water (See below) (duplicate for auto at least one day supply)
- First aid kit (duplicate for auto)
- A battery-powered, hand crank, or solar radio. A NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert can also be helpful
- Flashlight or battery operated lanterns
- Extra batteries!
Should be a part of the emergency kit…
- Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
- Manual can opener
- Cell phone with chargers, inverter or solar charger
- Whistle to signal for help
- Crow bar for removing debris
- Dust mask, to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
- Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
- Local maps
- Household chlorine bleach with no perfumes or additives and medicine dropper
- Fire extinguisher
- Matches in a waterproof container
- Mess kits, paper cups, plates and plastic utensils, paper towels
- Did we mention extra batteries?!
Other Items to consider
- Spare pair of glasses
- Other prescriptions or over the counter medications you take on a regular basis
- Infant formula and diapers (if you have infant children)
- Pet food and extra water for your pet
- Feminine supplies and personal hygiene items
- Cash or traveler’s checks and change – if the electricity is out stores (if they are open) may need to resort to manual methods of money exchange
- Emergency reference material such as a first aid book or information from www.ready.gov.
- Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person. Consider additional bedding if you live in a cold-weather climate. For the car, a solar blanket is lightweight and compact.
- Complete change of clothing including a long sleeved shirt, long pants and sturdy shoes. Consider additional clothing if you live in a cold-weather climate.
- Paper and pencil
- Books, games, puzzles or other activities for children
First Aid Kit
No home should be without a first aid kit. Here are some items to include:
- Adhesive bandages, various sizes
- 5” x 9” sterile dressing
- Conforming roller gauze bandage
- Triangular bandages
- 3” x 3” sterile gauze pads
- 4” x 4” sterile gauze pads
- Roll 3” cohesive bandage
- Germicidal hand wipes or waterless, alcohol-based hand sanitizer
- Antiseptic wipes
- Pairs large, medical grade, non-latex gloves
- Tongue depressor blades
- Adhesive tape, 2” width
- Antibacterial ointment
- Cold pack
- Scissors (small, personal)
- Assorted sizes of safety pins
- Cotton balls
- Tube of petroleum jelly or other lubricant
- CPR breathing barrier, such as a face shield
- First aid manual
- Aspirin and non-aspirin pain reliever
- Anti-diarrhea medication
- Antacid (for stomach upset)
We all need protein, carbohydrates and fats to keep up our energy, so be sure to store nonperishable foods that will meet these requirements:
Dried meats. Beef jerky or beef sticks are good sources of long-storing protein.
Canned fish and meat. Canned tuna or salmon is an excellent source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids. Canned ham and sandwich spreads can be eaten with crackers. Canned beans are an excellent source of vegetarian nutrition.
Canned fruits. Peaches, pears, berries and applesauce are good sources of vitamin C and other nutrients.
Canned vegetables. Vegetables, such as beans, peas, and carrots are important to include in your emergency pantry.
Dried fruits. Dried fruits, such as raisins, apricots, plums or cranberries, are another way to get nutrition from fruit in an emergency.
Whole grain crackers. These are good replacements for bread and have a longer shelf life.
Nuts. Almonds, walnuts, cashews and pecans have protein, fiber and healthy fats.
Granola bars. These are good for sweet treats.
Dry cereals. They are fortified with extra vitamins and minerals and can be eaten dry.
Juice boxes. Single-serving-sized juice that doesn’t need to be refrigerated is helpful. Make sure to choose 100% fruit juices.
Electrolyte drinks. Drinks, such as Gatorade or Power Ade, though not appropriate for every day, are a good addition to your emergency food pantry.
If you live alone, or have a small family you might consider buying single-serving sizes whenever possible, because you can’t depend on refrigeration after the containers have been opened. Make sure to periodically check the foods in your emergency food pantry, so that you don’t keep foods that have passed their expiration dates.
Pack a separate emergency food container and keep it in your car. Choose nuts, crackers, dried beef, dried fruit. If you live in the northern latitudes include a container to melt snow for water.
Collect all the elements of your emergency kit together in one place and pack it in easily transportable carriers (canvas bags, back packs, etc.) You may have to grab your kit and move quickly, so have it in a handy place. Remember, you will need to periodically rotate the food, water, medications and any diabetes supplies that may expire.
Water and Sanitation
The Immediate Aftermath of a Disaster
Coping Emotionally with a Disaster
Disaster Assistance and Resources
Securing Valuable Information
Kentucky Department of Public Health, Cabinet for Health and Family Services
Washington State Department of Public Health