What to Pack in a Diabetes Emergency Kit

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Heidi Quinn, M.S., R.D., L.D.N., pediatric nutrition educator

For people with diabetes, it’s important to be prepared for any sort of change of plans – whether that be a delay during your morning commute or getting caught in a rain or snow storm. Whatever the case may be, it’s helpful to have an emergency diabetes kit of essential supplies so that you are prepared to manage your diabetes in a variety of settings.

Speaking with Diabetes sat down Heidi Quinn, M.S., R.D., L.D.N., Nutrition Educator at Joslin Diabetes Center, with learn more about what to pack in your emergency kit:

Speaking of Diabetes: What supplies would you recommend that people with diabetes include in a diabetes emergency kit?

Heidi Quinn: In your kit, you will need an assortment of diabetes supplies to be prepared to treat high or low blood glucose at any time. This includes:

  • Glucagon and Glucose Supplies: One of the most important items to include in your kit is a Glucagon emergency kit with a syringe, glucose tabs or other fast acting source of glucose (i.e. juice, life savers, glucose gel).
  • Emergency Contact Numbers: It is essential to carry medical identification with you, most commonly in the form of a bracelet or necklace. This enables you to receive proper medical care in the case of a hypoglycemic episode. It is also helpful to have emergency telephone numbers of your diabetes care team, primary care physicians, pharmacy and personal emergency contacts in your kit.
  • Blood Glucose Meter and Supplies: Other helpful supplies to add to your kit are a lancing device, blood glucose meter and test strips, alcohol wipes; urine or blood ketone strips, extra batteries or battery charger for a meter and/or insulin pump.
  • For an Insulin Pump: For people who use an insulin pump, we recommend including back up supplies needed for a new insertion in case the current site fails, including infusion set and inserter or pods, insulin bottle and syringe, or insulin pen and pen needles and a pump reservoir.

SD: When should people with diabetes take the kit with them?

HQ: At Joslin, we recommend that people with type 1 diabetes carry this emergency kit with them at all times, especially if you are on a trip or operating a motor vehicle.

SD: Should the kit include different supplies for a vacation or extended trip versus day-to-day life?

HQ: When you are going on vacation, it is a good idea to bring along additional diabetes supplies, including a travel letter from your healthcare provider stating you have type 1 diabetes and require specific supplies to bring on board with you (i.e. if traveling by airplane). Your supplies should have the original pharmacy labels in case you need additional supplies during your trip. Lastly, bring a few extra days of medication and supplies with you especially when travelling in winter in case of unexpected travel delays.

SD: Do you have any final tips for preparing a diabetes emergency kit?

HQ: My last piece of advice is to make sure your back up insulin is not expired because once insulin and pens are opened, they only last for 28 days. I recommend marking the bottle/pen with open date to avoid this!

Whether you are embarking on an extended trip, or simply going off to work for the day, it never hurts to bring along a fully stocked diabetes emergency kit.

Want some assistance in preparing your diabetes emergency kit? Consult with one of certified diabetes educators or call 617-309-2440 to make an appointment.

10 Responses to What to Pack in a Diabetes Emergency Kit

  1. subodhkumardwibedy says:

    Blood Sugar before 139,After 239

  2. David A. Birnbaum, MD says:

    How about extra batteries for the insulin pump? (Or do they run on small solar panels now?)

  3. JT Titus says:

    It’s impossible for me to only use insulin before the expiration date because I always have too much that isn’t used and the insurance won’t send new insulin until a certain date!

  4. Lisa says:

    The best treatment I’ve found for hypoglycemia is those little squeezable packages of applesauce. There is no fumbling around to open it, it lasts a long time without refrigeration and provides the right amount of fast acting carb. without even having to chew or sit up in bed. Keep some in the nightstand and in the car and you’ll always be prepared. Watch out the kiddos don’t eat em though!
    Juice can be hard to open and messy, lifesavers melt and glucose gel is gross.

  5. Robert PIERRE says:

    I see it as imperative that the industry should develop a ‘meter-type’ device that would measure the current potency of insulin. People who travel frequently to complicated destinations, or have to vacate their homes further to emergencies, may face adverse conditions that jeopardize insulin potency to such an extent that it is rendered ineffective.

  6. Stephen Johnson says:

    With so much going on these days that seem overwhelming at times this is a very good idea that every diabetic should be
    able to do. Thanks.

  7. Dan Adams says:

    Please explain the phrase “urine of blood” from Diabetes Emergency Kit:• Blood Glucose Meter and Supplies: Other helpful supplies to add to your kit are a lancing device, blood glucose meter and test strips, alcohol wipes; urine of blood ketone strips, extra batteries or battery charger for a meter and/or insulin pump.

  8. Peggy Garrison says:

    An emergency kit is essential but what does an insulin diabetic do to be prepared for catastrophic events such as the recent hurricanes? I’m sure there are diabetics in all of the areas hit by these recent disasters. What did they do and what are they doing to stay alive? I’ve been an insulin dependent diabetic for 60 years and have not experienced this situation. What or how can one be prepared

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