A diabetes kit is a savvy tool to stay safe when life throws your curve-balls.
When it comes to managing diabetes, there's no such thing as being overly prepared—especially when so few of your busy days go exactly as planned. Unexpected events, from a surprise social invitation to a serious weather event, can keep you out and about longer than you'd expected. Keep a diabetes kit with you so you're always prepared with your diabetes care essentials.
Priority #1: Stash Medical Supplies
A good rule of thumb is to keep enough medications and other supplies in your on-the-go bag to last a week. If you have enough supplies to last a week you can go out for dinner after work two nights in a row without having to fret about having enough insulin. Keep these rules in mind for your medicine so you will never find yourself unprepared.
- Keep medications cool. Exposure to heat lessens the effectiveness of diabetes medications, especially insulin. Experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend keeping your medications in a cooler, though they recommend against putting insulin directly on an ice pack. Consider a diabetes travel pack, designed with a dedicated cooling compartment, or repurpose an insulated lunch bag. This will help you avoid any heat related damage to your medicine while being able to choose a size, style, and shape that works for you. Don't forget to check package information on your medications or ask your Rite Aid Pharmacist about how high temperatures can affect insulin and other medicines, as not all medications react the same way.
- Stock up on testing supplies. Include all the items you normally use to test your blood sugar. Don't forget empty sharps containers for your lancets, needles, and syringes.
- Plan for pump emergencies. If you use an insulin pump, WebMD recommends that you always carry extra batteries, reservoirs and infusion sets, vials of insulin, and a syringe in case your pump malfunctions or stops working entirely.
Priority #2: Prepare for Changes in Your Diet
Going out to eat or grabbing a drink with friends means you'll be stepping out of your daily routine and into situations that can alter your blood sugar levels. Use your diabetes tool kit to prepare for delayed meals and other disruptions by keeping a few crucial items on you at all times.
- Stash glucose tablets.This travel-friendly low blood sugar treatment is perfect for your go-bag, as the tablets won't melt, leak, or become sticky in warm conditions. Plus, they come in fun flavors like these Rite Aid Glucose Tablets in tropical fruit.
- Carry healthy snacks. Smart, travel-friendly choices include whole-grain crackers, nuts, and certain dried fruits. Get even more diabetes-friendly snack ideas to up the variety.
- Stay hydrated. Dehydration can cause your blood sugar levels to spike. Always keep bottled water in your diabetes go-bag to avoid getting dehydrated.
Priority #3: Make the most of your mobile phone
The greatest accessory to your diabetes kit is something you probably already own: your smart phone. Diabetes-savvy apps can help you eat smart in any situation, and ensure your safety in a medical emergency.
- Find quick nutrition facts. Download a nutrition-tracker mobile app to help you check carbohydrate content in new foods before you eat. Joslin Diabetes Center experts recommend CalorieKing.
- Get a mobile medical ID. Apps that log all your key medical information are now available for all mobile operating systems. As you add your info to your mobile medical ID, make sure you choose the setting that makes your ID available even when your screen is locked, so others can see it in a medical emergency.
Remember to Refill Supplies
Build a habit of checking and refilling your supply bag as needed, ideally on a daily basis. Even on a normal day, there's a good chance you'll dip into your snack stash! Don't let any of your go-bag supplies get depleted or pass their expiration dates.
You're more likely to build a "bag check" into your routine if you pair it with another daily practice, like making lunches or your morning coffee. Ask your doctor or Rite Aid pharmacist for recommendations on a quality travel pack and any specific guidance for keeping the medications you use safe.
By Nancy Burtis Boudreau
WebMD, Your Diabetes Supply Kit
Joslin Diabetes Center, Diabetes and Travel -- 10 Tips for a Safe Trip
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Managing Diabetes in the Heat