Diabetes Care During Natural Disasters, Emergencies, and Hazards
During natural disasters, emergencies, and hazards people with diabetes face particular challenges to their health care. If you are an evacuee or are in an emergency situation, it is of prime importance to identify yourself as a person with diabetes and any related conditions, so you can obtain appropriate care. It is also important to prevent dehydration by drinking enough fluids, which can be difficult when drinking water is in short supply. In addition, it is helpful to keep something containing sugar with you at all times, in case you develop hypoglycemia (low blood glucose). To prevent infections, which people with diabetes are more vulnerable to, pay careful attention to the health of your feet, and get medical treatment for any wounds.
The CDC has compiled many natural disaster and emergency resources in English, Spanish, and several other languages.
Below are additional links which may be especially useful for people with diabetes. Some of the following documents are available in Portable Document Format.
For simple publications explaining the basics about diabetes, visit our page of resources for health educators
- Emergency Preparedness and You
- Ready—Prepare.Plan.Stay Informed.
- Federal Emergency Management Agency
Insulin, Drug, and Equipment Advice
- Insulin Storage and Potency
Switching Between Products in an Emergency
Patients should try to keep their insulin as cool as possible, avoiding direct heat and direct sunlight as well as freezing if placed on ice. Although a physician should supervise when switching insulin products, here are recommendations for emergency situations.
- Blood Glucose Meters and Hurricane Disasters
Heat and humidity can damage blood glucose meters and test strips. If you use a blood glucose meter, check the meter and test strip package insert for information on use during unusual heat and humidity.
- Diabetes Disaster Preparedness
http://www.state.nj.us/health/fhs/documents/diabetes_disaster_guidelines.pdf [PDF–211 KB]
This brochure includes helpful disaster management tips about insulin, pens, and syringes; food safety; foot care; managing hot weather, erratic mealtimes, physical exertion, and sick days.
Winter Weather and Extreme Heat
- Be Prepared: Staying Safe and Healthy in Winter Weather
Winter storms and cold temperatures can be hazardous, but if you plan ahead, you can stay safe and healthy.
- Prepare for Diabetes Care in Heat and Emergencies
- Do You Have Diabetes?
En Español: ¿Tiene Diabetes?
A colorful, illustrated one-page handout reminding people with diabetes to take their medicine, check their feet for injuries, monitor their blood glucose, and try to eat healthy foods. In printer-friendly format.
- Kidney Community Emergency Preparedness and Response
Provides essential information to help dialysis patients, transplant recipients, and kidney health care professionals before and during emergencies.
- Do You Have High Blood Pressure?
http://emergency.cdc.gov/disasters/pdf/hypertension.pdf [PDF–947 KB]
- Hand Hygiene in Emergency Situations
After an emergency, it can be difficult to find running water. However, it is still important to wash your hands to avoid illness or infection, especially when testing your blood glucose or treating a wound.
- Keep Water Safe after a Natural Disaster
Water may not be safe to drink, clean with, or bathe in after a hurricane or flood, which can be a particular problem for people with diabetes, who especially need to drink fluids and keep wounds clean.
- Emergency Wound Care After a Natural Disaster
People often receive wound injuries during and after a natural disaster, and wound care is of particular importance for people with diabetes.
- Foot Care for People with Diabetes
Trench Foot or Immersion Foot
Foot wounds or infections can develop into serious problems for people with diabetes, so foot care is especially important.
- Cold and Flu Care for People with Diabetes
Cold and flu care is very important when you have diabetes, because being sick can raise your blood glucose, prevent you from eating properly, and make your immune system more vulnerable to serious illness.
General Hurricane Recovery Information
- Hurricane Recovery Information from FirstGov.gov
- Social Security's Hurricane Information
- Information for Evacuees and Other Affected Persons
Health and violence prevention fact sheets for evacuees, addressing parenting stress, mental health, sexual violence, youth violence, high blood pressure, head lice, hand hygiene, carbon monoxide, and wound care.
- Special Messages for Schools
Information for schools supporting evacuated students, addressing immunizations, mental health, meals, school supplies, and maintaining routines.