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Prepare for diabetes care in heat and emergencies

People with diabetes face extra challenges during emergencies and natural disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes, and tornadoes. If you're evacuating -- leaving your home to get away from a threat -- or staying in an emergency shelter, let others know that you have diabetes so that you can take care of your health. If you have other health problems, such as chronic kidney disease or heart disease, make sure you let others know about those, too.

  • Drink plenty of fluids, especially water. Safe drinking water may be hard to find in emergencies, but if you don't take in enough water, you could develop serious medical problems. Heat, stress, high blood sugar, and some diabetes medicines such as metformin can cause you to lose fluid, which increases the chances you'll become dehydrated.
  • Keep something containing sugar with you at all times, in case you develop dangerously low blood sugar (hypoglycemia). You may not be able to check blood sugar levels, so know the warning signs of low blood sugar.
  • Pay special attention to your feet. Stay out of contaminated water, wear shoes, and examine feet carefully for any sign of infection or injury. Get medical treatment quickly for any injuries.

Planning for Emergencies

  • Make an emergency plan for you and your family.
  • Always wear identification that says you have diabetes.
  • If you take insulin, ask your doctor during a regular visit what to do in an emergency if you don't have your insulin and can't get more.
  • If you take other medicines for diabetes, ask your doctor what to do during an emergency if you don't have your medicine.
  • Prepare an emergency supply of food and water.
  • Include an adequate supply of medicine and medical supplies in your emergency kit, enough for at least three days and possibly more, depending on your needs. Ask your doctor or pharmacist about storing prescription medicines such as heart and high blood pressure medicine and insulin. Plan how you'll handle medicine that normally requires refrigeration, such as insulin.
  • Make sure you change medicine and medical supplies in your emergency kit regularly, to ensure they stay up to date. Check expiration dates on all medicine and supplies often.
  • Keep copies of prescriptions and other important medical information, including the phone number for your health care provider, in your emergency kit.
  • Keep a list of the type and model number of medical devices you use, such as an insulin pump, in the emergency kit.
  • If you have a child with diabetes who is in school or daycare, learn the school's emergency plan. Work with them to ensure your child will have needed diabetes supplies in an emergency.
  • If you need regular medical treatments, such as dialysis, talk to your service provider about their emergency plans.