Tips to Help People with Diabetes Prepare for Disasters

Natural disasters in 2008 have proved that hurricane season isn't the only time a person should be prepared for the worst. That is why the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE) and Eli Lilly and Co. are urging people with diabetes to be ready in advance in the event disaster strikes.

Hurricane season, which began June 1, arrived in the midst of an already devastating year of natural disasters. Wildfires swept through Florida and California, floods struck Iowa, earthquakes hit China and Missouri and a record-breaking tornado season have all left millions without homes.

"When people think about preparing for disasters, they don't necessarily think of earthquakes striking Missouri," AACE spokesperson Victor Roberts MD, MBA, FACP, FACE of Endocrine Associates of Florida said. "But events like that and the recent tragedy in Myanmar serve as a painful reminder that disaster will strike at a moment's notice."

Diabetes affects more than 20 million people in the United States. The management of this disease requires daily medications, which can make these individuals vulnerable when natural disasters strike. These events can upset daily routines and may leave citizens without access to their homes, health care professionals, medications and/or other medical supplies.

The chaos of a disaster can interfere with these daily routines and result in erratic eating and disrupted timing of medication doses. These disruptions, and the stress induced by a natural disaster, can both change blood sugar levels and potentially adversely affect the health of people with diabetes.

"Taking the time to prepare a disaster kit in advance is crucial because once a storm or other emergency threatens, there's usually too little time to make all of the necessary arrangements," Roberts said.

And it appears there will be no clemency for the duration of the year. In addition to hurricane season, the National Weather Service recently reported that 2008 has already been the deadliest year for tornadoes since 1998. It's also primed to break the U.S. record for the number of tornadoes in a single year.

To help diabetes patients prepare for disaster, AACE and Lilly have developed a list of helpful tips. These tips can be applied anywhere, whether in a hurricane region, tornado alley, an earthquake zone or elsewhere. A full list is available for download at www.aace.com/newsroom/disaster/disasterplan.php.

Some of the preparatory activities include:

  • Make a list of all medical conditions and prior surgeries.
  • Document information about your diabetes, including past and present medications, any adverse reactions to medications, and past and present complications.
  • Make a list of all medications, which should also include pharmacies and active prescription information and eligible refills.
  • Prepare and properly store a 30-day supply of medications for diabetes and all other medical conditions. For those with diabetes, this may include insulin, oral anti-diabetic agents and a glucagon emergency kit (if prescribed by your physician).

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