Diabetes and Disaster Preparedness

October 2016 submission

Health Triangle Magazine

As I write this month’s column, the local news is reporting tropical storm and hurricane threats in the United States, flooding in the Caribbean, and showcasing efforts of the American Red Cross in wildfires, earthquakes and house fires. When disaster strikes, lives are instantly disrupted. Simple things that we take for granted, like food, water, and electricity, are often compromised. People with chronic diseases, such as diabetes, have additional stressors to deal with. Preplanning is the key to surviving when a disaster strikes. This article will highlight information from the experts on how to proactively prepare for the unexpected.

When a disaster strikes, a person with diabetes (PWD) faces additional stressors. Aside from the disruption of basic human needs, such as food and shelter, a PWD must also address concerns over medication supplies, proper storage of medications, adequate food and fluid supplies, and glucose testing equipment. The key to surviving a disaster is to avoid the health-related threats that occur when faced with inadequate supplies, foods, and other items required to maintain good health practices. Preplanning for (the possibility of) a disaster is the best way to lower the risk of compromising your health.

Make a list of items you would need in the event of an emergency. Build your own emergency kit with supplies you would need, such as food, water, prescription medications and testing supplies, as well as basic first aid supplies and clothing to keep warm and dry. In addition, include personal hygiene products, additional batteries, and a flashlight. The general rule of thumb is to include enough supplies to last 3days. As many of these items have expiration dates, be sure and check/restock supplies as needed.

The American Red Cross recommends storing one gallon of water per day per person. Food supplies should provide an average of 1200 calories per day per person. Foods not requiring refrigeration are best. They include canned foods, granola bars, freeze dried meals, and meal replacement bars. Don’t forget to include a can opener and eating utensils in your preparedness kit. The change in food quality and quantity may affect your blood glucose level; thus, it is important to include glucose tablets and gels in your kit, to teat possible hypoglycemic events. Finally, make sure your kit includes emergency contact information, a copy of your medications, and your doctors contact information.

For more information on disaster preparedness:

www.redcross.org

www.fema.gov

www.emergency.cdc.gov

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