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Emergency questions

Why are people with diabetes at greater risk in an emergency?

The body processes blood glucose differently in an emergency. Stress, sudden changes in levels of activity and possible lack of access to your regular food mean you may need to adjust your medication during and after an emergency.

If you take insulin, you should consult a health professional before adjusting your dose. If no health professionals are available during or after an emergency, monitor your blood glucose closely and seek medical attention as soon as possible.

What if someone is unable to manage their diabetes in an emergency?

If diabetes is not managed during and after an emergency, changes in blood glucose levels can lead to hypoglycaemia (low blood glucose), or hyperglycaemia (high blood glucose) and ketoacidosis (very high blood glucose).

These conditions can cause loss of consciousness and longer-term health problems that are less obvious. If left untreated, they can be fatal.

How do I prepare a diabetes emergency kit

My diabetes emergency plan—lists your medical details and important contacts and has a checklist for preparing a diabetes emergency kit. The plan is available in other languages.

Use the emergency kit checklist to prepare a portable, insulated diabetes emergency kit to take with you if you need to leave at short notice. Keep the plan (including the checklist) and your kit together. Every 3 months check the expiry date of your supplies and update this plan.

Why do the plan and kit need to be updated every three months?

To make sure food and medical supplies are within their use-by date, and your medical information is current.

Preparing a kit and keeping it up to date will save time. If disaster suddenly strikes and you need to leave at short notice, the kit is all you need to take with you.

Why do I need protective clothes like heavy gloves and socks?

People with diabetes have a higher risk of developing complications from skin wounds and sores. Scratches, insect bites and blisters must be treated early to prevent serious infection.

Do I need insulin if I have not eaten?

You should continue checking your blood glucose levels as usual, even if you have not eaten. Monitoring is the only way to know how much insulin to take in an emergency situation.

How should I store insulin in an emergency situation?

Try and keep insulin as cool as possible, but make sure it does not freeze if you are using ice. Do not use frozen insulin.

What if I cannot keep my insulin cool?

Once opened, insulin vials can be kept at room temperature (15-25 degrees) for up to 28 days. Insulin must not be left in direct sunlight.

In an emergency situation you may have to use insulin that was stored above room temperature. Discard it as soon as properly stored insulin is available.