Preparing for Emergencies — Like COVID-19

Making arrangements for an emergency is essential when living with diabetes — and in the event of a global pandemic like we are facing now, preparedness is key!

Among the groups most at risk for experiencing severe complications of COVID-19 are diabetics. Although doctors are not yet sure why, recent studies have shown that diabetes and high glucose levels have been associated with respiratory failure and increased mortality rates in hospitalized patients. That means around 1 in 10 Americans should be thinking about how to prepare for emergencies and manage their health while self-isolating and social distancing. 

Supplies You Should Stock Up On

Now that you know the risks — how can you prepare? Stocking up on supplies is step number one to make sure you have everything you need in case stores close or panic-buyers strip the shelves. Here’s what you need to focus on when putting together an emergency kit: 


Doctors recommend getting a 90-day supply of insulin whenever possible. It’s better to have extra ready to go than to wait until supplies are low. If a state of emergency has been declared where you live you may be able to get an additional 30-day supply of your necessary medications. If this isn’t an option for you, mail-order services may be a better way to go — especially if you’re self-isolating!


In addition to insulin, you’ll need some other essentials. Make sure you have extra test strips, lancets, and batteries for your meters and pumps. You’ll also need a cooler and reusable cold packs (note: NOT dry ice — do NOT freeze insulin!), an empty plastic container for sharps, pump supplies, infusion sets, or syringes, and glucose recovery products like Glucose SOS. And, of course, don’t forget your hand sanitizer and masks! All of these crucial supplies are available online so you don’t even need to head to the store — get them delivered instead.


Other than insulin and diabetic testing supplies you should keep some basic groceries on hand for emergencies as well. Preventing dehydration is key especially when drinking water may be in short supply — be sure to keep some extra purified water on hand. It’s also helpful to keep something sweet like juice, soda, honey, or hard candy for rapid blood sugar recovery. 

Along with fast-acting sugary items, you should also keep some shelf-stable, slow-release carbs in your pantry — like oatmeal, brown rice, quinoa, millet, bulgar, barley, peas, lentils, sweet corn, and pumpkin. Canned tuna and beans, nuts and nut butters, and dried fruit are all excellent staples that are packed with nutrition and will last for ages in your pantry as well. 

More Tips

Beyond stocking up on supplies, people with diabetes need to take the same steps as everyone else to protect themselves — thorough hand washing, disinfecting surfaces, wearing face coverings, social distancing, and self-isolating. Then there are some specific precautions diabetics can take to reduce your risk of contracting COVID-19.


If you have any checkups scheduled — ask your doctors if there are telemedicine options available for you. If not, consider rescheduling your appointments for a later date. It’s still important to stay home as much as possible. 


Frequently monitor your blood sugar levels to maintain good glycemic control — this can help reduce your risk of infection, severity of illness, and likelihood of complications. Make sure that you are eating a healthy diet full of balanced nutrition to help keep glucose levels steady. 


This may seem like a simple suggestion but the reasoning is two-fold. Exercise has been shown to improve the function of your immune system. But self-isolating and social distancing can take its toll on our mental health too — and exercise gives a huge boost to our moods to help keep stress levels (and sugar spikes) low.  

While taking necessary precautions should help you avoid COVID-19 — exposure is always a possibility due to asymptomatic spread. If you think you may have contracted the virus — talk to your doctor and local health authority for information on testing and treatment, and prepare to quarantine yourself. 

These are scary times that we are facing — but it’s important to remember that most people will be able to recover from COVID-19 at home. At the end of the day, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure — so ready your supplies and hunker down while we wait for this storm to pass.