How to Prepare a Diabetes Emergency Kit
Diabetes requires daily management of blood sugar levels, and any type of unforeseen emergency can pose serious challenges for people living with the condition. Preparing a diabetes emergency kit ensures that you can manage your blood sugar and stay on top of your medications under any circumstances.
Here’s a checklist of the items that every diabetes emergency kit should include. Pack them in a waterproof, insulated bag, and keep it in your house near an accessible exit. Be sure to go through your kit every few months to make sure the medication and food hasn’t expired.
1. Medical history and contact list
In the event of an emergency, it’s critical that first responders and medical personnel are aware of your diabetes diagnosis and other important information about your health, including:
- Details about medication dosage, timing, and frequency
- Any other medical conditions
- Pharmacy contact information
- Physician contact information
- At least two emergency contacts
There are a variety of apps that make it easy to store and share your medical history during an emergency, including GenieMD, MTBC PHR, and CareZone. Wearing a diabetes medical ID bracelet can also ensure that you receive the treatment you need in an emergency situation.
2. Extra medication
Set aside a week’s worth of your diabetes medication. If you have type 1 diabetes, this will include insulin. If you take insulin as an injection, be sure to pack backup syringes. If you use an insulin pump, pack extra reservoirs, infusion sets, and batteries, and include vials of insulin and syringes in case the pump stops working.
If you have type 2 diabetes, your diabetes emergency kit may include oral or injectable medication that helps your body use insulin more effectively. Some people with type 2 diabetes also take insulin.
If you take medication that requires refrigeration like insulin, exenatide, or pramlintide, include a cold pack and insulated bag in your diabetes emergency kit. Ice packs will generally stay frozen for 24-36 hours in an insulated bag, so rotate the ice packs in your kit and make sure there’s always a backup in the freezer.
3. Blood glucose testing supplies
Monitoring blood sugar levels is an important component of diabetes management. If you take insulin to control your blood sugar, your blood glucose levels can drop too low if you take more insulin than needed or if you eat less or exercise more than usual. Your body needs enough blood sugar to properly function, and low blood sugar can lead to seizures or loss of consciousness if left unaddressed.
Pack a blood glucose meter or a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) in your diabetes emergency kit to measure your blood sugar levels. Include the following supplies as well:
- Extra test strips and lancets
- Extra batteries for your meter and CGM
- Extra sensors if using a CGM
- Sharps container
- Pen needles, if using an insulin pen
- Alcohol swabs
- Basic first aid supplies
- Hand sanitizer
- A log to record blood sugar readings
4. Sources of glucose
It’s important to have extra sources of glucose on hand if you experience drops in blood sugar levels, also called hypoglycemia. There are a variety of options to restore your blood glucose levels:
- Glucose tablets, available over the counter (Lift Glucose Chews, TRUEplus® Glucose Tablets, ReliOn™ Glucose Tablets)
- Glucose gel, available over the counter (Dex4® Glucose Gel, Glutose™ 15/Glutose™ 45, Insta-Glucose®)
- Snacks like dried fruits, trail mix, honey, or granola bars, which contain carbohydrates that the body can convert into glucose
You should also carry glucagon in case of severe hypoglycemia. Learn more about the purpose of glucagon in diabetes treatment.
Hydration is critical for people with diabetes, since dehydration can cause blood sugar levels to spike. Store a three-day supply of at least one gallon per person a day at home — the CDC’s recommendation for emergency preparation — and include a couple 16 oz bottles of water in your diabetes emergency kit.
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This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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