Staying Prepared for Emergencies: Hannah's Advice

Hannah Reidel, DPAC Champion

I’m Hannah, and I have been living with type 1 diabetes (T1D) for 13 years. As a personal passion of mine, as well as my current profession, emergency preparedness is crucial for everyone, but even more critical for those living with a chronic health condition like diabetes. In my current position, I work with the Portland Public Health Division and the Maine Cities Readiness Initiative on emergency preparedness. Through this work and my personal background living with T1D, thinking about how to prepare for emergencies while living with diabetes has become an important part of my life.

As someone who grew up in the Pacific Northwest, waiting in suspense for the “Big One” to hit us with a 9.0 earthquake, I had go-kits packed for each of my family members from a young age. When my sister was later also diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2015, I started stashing go-kits for both of us in my car and our homes, ready in case of stay-at-home orders or evacuation orders.

General emergency preparedness encourages us to have a “go-kit” of 3 days’ worth of supplies and a “stay-at-home” kit with 2 weeks of supplies. These supplies include*:

·       Drinking water (1 gallon of water per day, per person)

·       Non-perishable food (granola bars, canned goods, etc.)

·       First aid kit

·       Alternativepower source

·       Toothpaste and toothbrush

·       Radio (for announcements)

·       Sleeping bag and blankets for each person

·       Matches

·       Flashlights (and batteries)

·       Whistle

·       Can opener

·       Prescriptions

·       Baby and pet supplies (if applicable)

*A complete list can be found at

Diabetes-Specific Supplies (1-2 weeks of supplies)

·       Insulin pump set supplies

·       Extra CGM(Continuous Glucose Monitor) supplies

·       Insulin

·       Extra syringes/pen needles

           ·   Empty plastic bottle or sharps container to safely discard syringes and lancets

·       Blood glucose meter (and extra batteries for meter and/or pump)

·       Portable charger and insulin pump/CGM charging cord

·       Ketone testing strips

·       Extra lancets

·       Glucagon kit

·       Alcohol wipes

·       Any additional oral diabetes medicine

·       Glucose tablets or other fast-acting carbs like fruit juice or hard candy that will raise blood glucose quickly

For those of us living with diabetes, it is also important to include copies of prescriptions, current dosages, current basal rates, dosage information in pumps (insulin-to-carbohydrate ratio, insulin sensitivity factor, etc.), pharmacy information, and health insurance information.

Personally, I like to prepare with at least 2 weeks' worth of supplies. While this isn’t always feasible due to health insurance limits, it helps to try and have some sort of stockpile of supplies in case an emergency were to limit access to emergency services, power, and access to pharmacies/medical services. In an emergency, there are many aspects difficult to predict, so it’s important to do what you can now to mitigate the impact the next emergency has on you and your household.

For more diabetes-specific emergency preparedness information, CDC has compiled a list of emergency supplies for people living with diabetes, which can help in determining what you need to stay prepared:

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