How to Prepare for an Emergency When You Have Diabetes

diabetes emergency kit

Every household should have a basic first-aid kit on hand. But when you have diabetes, the supplies you need go beyond Band-Aids and aspirin. Use this checklist to expand your home's first-aid kit so you are prepared for any situation.

Place these items in a lightweight, waterproof storage bin with a snap-on lid, and keep the bin next to your basic first-aid kit in a dry, easy-to-access spot. Traveling? Bring your bin in the car or pack the supplies in a small pouch in your suitcase.

Learn More: Best Foods to Eat for Diabetes

Your Diabetes Emergency Kit Checklist

Testing Supplies

  • Extra test strips and lancets
  • Spare batteries for your meter + CGM
  • Sharps container (in a pinch, use an empty water bottle)
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Wet wipes
  • Pencil & paper to record blood sugar results

 

If you're taking insulin or hypoglycemic medication

  • Glucagon kit
  • Extra insulin syringes
  • Small Styrofoam cooler for insulin (store freezer packs in freezer)
  • Foil-wrapped ketone test strips
  • Backup supplies for insulin pump (batteries, infusion sets)

 

Food + Water

  • 3 liters of water per person (a two-day supply)
  • Nonperishable snacks to treat and prevent lows (a two-day supply)
    • Crackers & peanut butter packs
    • Granola bars
    • Trail mix
  • Quick-grab carbs (each of these is 15g carb):
    • One 6-oz. juice pack
    • 6 hard candies like Life Savers
    • 2 packs of Smarties candy
    • 2 Tbsp. raisins or other dried fruit
    • 1 Tbsp. sugar or honey (the amount in 3 sugar packets)
    • Glucose tablets

 

Important Info

  • Diabetes identification card or wearable ID
  • List of current prescriptions and dose schedule
  • Copy of insurance cards
  • List of emergency phone numbers (include family members, neighbors, co-workers, health care providers, pharmacies, and your insurance plan)
  • A medical history summary that lists your diabetes type, allergies, and other health conditions

 

Outside the Box

Consider supplies that you use daily or that require refrigeration as part of your kit, but store them elsewhere:

  • Your everyday diabetes kit
  • Current medicines & insulin
  • Freezer packs (if you take insulin or refrigerated medicines, for a cooler)

 

Expert Tips to Help You Prepare

What else can I do to be prepared?

The best thing you can do is to stay on top of your routine diabetes care. Keep prescriptions up-to-date and be prompt about refilling them. Keep your day-to-day diabetes kit well stocked with testing supplies. And keep your medications well organized. If you take multiple meds, consider a 7-day prescription pill box, suggests Diabetic Living advisor Michael J. Gonzalez-Campoy, M.D., Ph.D., FACE.

How do I keep track of when items in my kit will expire?

Check the expiration date on supplies at least once per year, recommends Diabetic Living advisor Evan Sisson, Pharm.D., CDE. Make a "cheat sheet" for your kit that lists all the expiration dates and pick a check-in date that's easy to remember (e.g., Labor Day or New Year's Day). Or, to help you spot out-of-date items, stock medications and test strips in order from oldest to newest, suggests Diabetic Living advisor Toby Smithson, M.S., RDN, CDE.

Am I doing enough? I feel like I need more supplies.

This kit will help keep you prepared for small emergencies, but there are also steps you can take to prepare for larger events. You may want to build out a more robust emergency kit, especially if you live in an area that's prone to natural disasters. This kit might include extra food and water, spare clothing, flashlights, personal hygiene items, and backup battery power for cell phones. We like the supplies suggested in the Tulane University Diabetes-Specific Disaster Survival Guide, developed by Tulane medical experts after Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast in 2005, available at tulaneresearch.com.

While it's best to prepare ahead of time, American Red Cross shelters can also help replace prescriptions that were lost during a major disaster event. It's helpful if you have a copy of your prescription and a week's worth of medication, says Mary Casey-Lockyer, M.P.S., B.S.N., R.N., CCRN, senior associate for disaster health services for the American Red Cross.

Related:

Why Are Fasting Glucose Levels High?
The Dangers of Skipping Meals When You Have Diabetes

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