Prepping With Type 1 Diabetes

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Many preppers have health challenges. Here are tips for those with Type 1 diabetes. | via www.TheSurvivalMom.comType 1 diabetes — also called Juvenile Diabetes — shook our prepping plans to their foundations. While I was stockpiling food, learning to make cheese, and writing the occasional post for the Survival Mom, my 9 year-old daughter’s body was attacking itself and she was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes.

Just a short time later I found myself trying to find answers for prepping with Type 1 Diabetes.

A T1D diagnosis is a life sentence of finger pokes and insulin administration. And because it’s genetic, we now know our other children are at risk.

What’s a survival mom to do? I didn’t even wait for the shock to wear off before I took to the internet seeking advice from the preparedness community…and was extremely disappointed with the meager information available. (I’ve included the links to those I found even a little bit helpful to save you time.) Even expert Mormon preppers who have so much information and resources had little to offer.

NOTE: This post is specific to Type 1 Diabetes, NOT Type 2. Please keep the differences in mind when you post comments and suggestions. Finding ways to prepare for a serious disease like this is scary. Suggestions that simple adjustments, like changing the food we have stored, as if we wouldn’t have already done that if it would resolve the issue, are more hurtful than helpful.

*Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, attorney, engineer, moralist, spiritual adviser, survivalist, or millionaire. Use the attached links and their information at your own risk. I’ve simply put together what’s on the net and what I’ve personally experienced. The rest is up to you.

Some Background

For clarity’s sake, please understand that T1D is very different from Type 2 Diabetes. The bodies of Type 2 patients still make insulin, but their bodies have trouble using it to get carbohydrate energy from the blood into the cells for use. Diet, exercise, and some drugs can help them do that.

NONE OF THAT HELPS TYPE 1 PATIENTS.

The body of a Type 1 patient makes no insulin, the vehicle that unlocks cells so that energy can enter and be metabolized. The immune system has attacked the pancreas and shut down the good guys that make insulin. No diet, exercise, or drugs on the market will turn those cells on again. And that was my initial frustration.

Lots of good-hearted folks had tips for keeping blood sugar down, but those suggestions will lead to starvation and/or death for a kid who can’t get energy from any type of food. Remember Atkins and low-carb diets? It’s the same idea. When the body can’t get energy from carbohydrates, it burns the body’s fat reserves. When that’s depleted, the body uses muscle for energy. A kid who eats bowls and bowls of pasta but can’t use any of its energy will still burn fat and muscles until there’s nothing left. Having supplies and insulin at all times is essential to survival.

Getting Started: Short-term Emergency Preparedness

The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation in 2013 advised diabetics to keep a filled medical bag after Superstorm Sandy hit in October 2012. Doctors were concerned that, gasp!, some of their diabetic patients weren’t prepared to go a couple of weeks without visiting a regular pharmacy! One woman didn’t have a regular pharmacy for 5 months following Sandy.

Put together a supply bag 

A bag that holds basic supplies for the diabetic is a smart first-step. The JDRF checklist might be helpful in packing that first bag. After some experimentation, I keep a tiny first aid box filled with pen needles in our everyday carry bag. And while you’re in the travel aisle, grab a tiny pill holder with a screw-on lid for sharps disposal. Mine can hold 3 used pen needles, enough to dose for each meal without worrying where to put used needles.

Carry snacks for emergencies

We keep a high-sugar snack for emergencies, as well as no-carb snacks that can curb hunger in the everyday carry bag. A case of water bottles in the trunk makes sense, too, as diabetics need to drink continuously. We keep even more snacks in a lunch bag in the car, along with 5 more days’ of supplies in case we wind up stranded somewhere.

Stocking up on Insulin and supplies

The problem with stocking up on diabetic supplies  is that they are expensive and insurance companies make it difficult to buy more than is needed for a short period of time. As with most prescriptions, many insurance companies will only pay for 1-3 months of refills at a time, and will only allow refills once supplies dwindle to a few days’ worth of reserves. That’s cutting it way too close for this prepared mama. If you’re new to diabetes or to prepping and have been worried about this, take heart. I’ve done some of the legwork for you.

If you are getting prescriptions one month at a time at a local pharmacy, you may be able to get a few extra days of supplies every month by going on the first day you can get a refill. That will leave you with  about six days of supplies at home. Over time, that can add up. However, many insurance companies are now requiring patients with “chronic conditions” to order their supplies through the mail after the first three months. Mail ordered supplies are sent automatically and make it virtually impossible to stock up in this way.

TIP: Read these tips for diabetics from Survival Mom readers.

Most states require a prescription to purchase insulin, making stockpiling trickier for Americans. It may be possible to buy insulin from other countries, and you may have wondered about the legality of buying insulin from Canada if you are an American. Since there is recent legislation on the table to make it legal for US citizens, this is good information to keep in mind if it does become legal in the future.

Another way to add to your stash of insulin may work if your loved one uses a pump but is very active. With a doctor’s approval, they might consider switching to a pen for at least part of the year. Some high school wrestlers with T1D are on a pump most of the year but switch to insulin injection pens during wrestling season for safety. Because there’s some overlap in refills, they will end up with a few extra pens tucked away as backup. Switching to pens for the summer might make sense if your self-conscious preteen is swimming, boating, canoeing, and cruising the pool. It might even be necessary if their pump can’t be immersed and they will be around water for longer than they can go without it.

How much insulin should you store? From my experience with food storage, I recommend you use the same guidelines as you would for food. If your canned tomatoes keep for a year, store a year’s worth and rotate. Refrigerated insulin will keep for up to two years, or 30 days once opened and kept at room temperature.Prepping for a Type 1 #diabetic? Survival tips here. Click To Tweet

While it is prudent to follow the “store what you use and use what you store” philosophy, pump users might want to skip down to the “Grid-down” section before putting all their insulin “eggs” in the “pump supplies” basket. Either way, request that all your prescription supplies automatically refill as soon as your insurance company will allow. If you can choose a couple of days a week to reduce carb intake and thus reduce insulin use, autofill can eventually get you a little bit of cushion.

Stocking up on Testing Supplies

Stocking up on diabetes testing supplies is easy, compared to stockpiling insulin.

It is simple to buy diabetes test strips, pen needles, etc. from Canada at a fraction of the cost. Price check all your options to get the lowest combined price, and be sure to take shipping into consideration. Remember to check eBay and Amazon as well. We found both to be only slightly less expensive than the pharmacy, but you can luck into great deals on eBay.

Diabetic specialty websites like Glucomart carry hit-or-miss supplies and run daily updates. You have to check back pretty often, or use your email address to request notification when the products you need are in stock.

Testing on-the-go is much easier with alcohol swabs. I pick up a 2-pack (400 total) for less than $4 every time I go to the store. Even in bulk, I can’t find them cheaper than at Walmart. At home, we use a giant bottle of alcohol and cotton balls, available at dollar stores everywhere.

While I personally haven’t tried it, you may also be able to find unopened testing supplies at an estate sale, just as you might find other non-prescription medical supplies such bed pans, surgical gloves, or dressings. In estate sales, you might even find a new or lightly-used testing machine to go along with the supplies.

With second-hand supplies in particular (estate sales and eBay), be certain to check the expiration date, and (obviously) that they are compatible with your machine. They may be cheap because they are close to their expiration date. Use those right away and save the ones with later expiration dates.

I’ve created a spreadsheet to help me keep track of our supplies, their expiration dates, and how much of each I need to stock up on in order to be prepared for 3 months, 6 months, and one year.

Stocking up on Other Essentials

Vitamins

Immune support is crucial for T1D patients. In fact, contracting a common cold or flu virus is often what pushes an overactive immune system into overdrive and coincides with T1D onset. Endocrine changes due to illness wreak havoc on blood glucose levels. Avoid sickness and support immunity whenever possible.

Vitamin D is also shown to assist with glucose control. It’s equally important for our other children to get vitamin D, as a deficiency is linked to increased risk of developing the disease for those with family history.

Low-carb alternatives

In an emergency, you may want to reduce carbohydrate intake to make insulin stockpiles last longer. Our medical team says kids need a MINIMUM of 130 carbs per day for growth and development. Basing insulin stockpiles on current needs should give you some wiggle room.

Maybe now is the time to learn to cook with almond flour or develop a taste for coconut milk. (Both are shelf-stable, by the way!) We already had a HUGE stockpile of beans, rice, noodles, and other starchy foods that could be a nightmare for glucose control. Energy rich, but nutrient sparse.

We still have and use those foods, but we’re replacing some of them with alternatives that make sugar control a little easier. Brown rice has a shorter shelf life, but more nutrients and the complex carbs are much slower to enter the blood. Similarly, a packet of Splenda or Stevia might make lots of ho-hum dishes more palatable, the way sugar does for the rest of us.

As a replacement for milk, Peak powdered milk  has 8 carbs per cup, versus 12 for regular powdered milk and fresh 2% milk. LC milk powder has only 1 carb per cup, but it requires mixing with water and heavy cream. Canned coconut cream doesn’t work, as the consistency is too solid. Table cream yields a better result.

Rationing diabetic supplies

Lancets

I’ve read comments from diabetics who still change a lancet after every finger prick, and from those who guesstimate it gets changed every couple of months. I was not able to find a link to specific guidelines, but the American Association of Diabetes Educators acknowledges that reusable lancets for a single patient are perfectly safe. The recommendation at the time of your initial diagnosis may have changed. Our medical team insisted a once-a-day change had been studied and was proven safe, provided the skin is cleansed with alcohol before each finger prick (as of December of 2014).

Pen needles or syringes

This scares the heck out of me. The Journal of the American Medical Association indicates that it would be okay to reuse syringes or pen needles without complications. I don’t think I’d do it in normal times, but in dire circumstances it’s nice to know about the AMA’s approval. The article specifically talks about 3-4 uses per needle, which would equal a once-a-day change.

Off-Grid Considerations

Loss of electricity could prevent recharging your meter. Any number of solar phone chargers with USB plugs can be used as a backup option. Plus, you’ll have it to charge your phone!

When stockpiling, strongly consider the possibility that electronic equipment may fail due to a natural or man-made EMP event. Pump users should consider stocking insulin pens for backup, as an EMP could fry the pump’s circuitry. Pens are not vulnerable to EMP. We purchased an identical meter (half price on eBay!) and stashed it, unopened, in a Faraday cage as a backup.

If monitors are inoperable despite all these preparations, another backup option exists, urine test strips for glucose. They are less accurate than blood glucose meters since it takes much more sugar to register on a urine strip. These were used in the U.S. through the 1970s and 1980s, we just don’t have much of a market for them here anymore.

However, patients in third world countries without electricity use them, so they could be a viable alternative in a grid-down emergency. We plan to periodically compare the urine test results to the meter reading just to see how they compare.

Refrigerating insulin is key to prolonging its shelf life. Consider a solar refrigerator, or build a solar panel strong enough to run a small, dorm-room-size refrigerator.

The Frio Insulin Cooling Case is a water activated product designed to keep insulin cool during travel that has been getting some attention on the web. I haven’t tried it yet, but may post an update. With exposure to air, the bag keeps insulin room temperature, which is much better than hot, but it doesn’t even come close to refrigeration temperature.

Another option is a refrigerator that runs on 12 volt (as well as 110), apparently designed for campers and long-haul truckers. Since they can run off of car batteries, you just need to add a few extra car batteries to your preps – hardly an exotic item! If you make sure they are the kind your family cars need, you are even prepared for one more every-day disaster. If you have other ideas, I hope you’ll add a comment below.

In a grid-down scenario, Dr. Bones of “Doom and Bloom” fame gives some options for preventing ketoacidosis here.  If you’ve stockpiled enough supplies, you shouldn’t have to worry about that for a long while.

First Steps

If you’re new to prepping or T1D, I know this is really overwhelming. Take some deep breaths and then some baby steps. Figure out what your child or grandchild needs to get through a single day, calculate, and start. Just, start. Don’t worry that you are starting with “the wrong thing.” You will need it all, eventually.

A good initial goal is to have a 3-month supply of EVERYTHING, but if that is overwhelming, you can start even smaller. Get the testing supplies since they are relatively easy, or one extra week or month of insulin. Research some backup options and get those next. But start…somewhere. Anywhere! Don’t let yourself get paralyzed to the point that you do nothing.

Once you have a 3 month supply, move on to a 6-month supply. When that is done, consider how you’ll maximize your insulin without electricity. Then keep adding to your supply. And don’t forget to rotate!

Final Thoughts

I KNOW prepping for Type 1 Diabetes is expensive because I share your pain in paying for it. I know building a stockpile probably means buying supplies outright without help from your insurance company—probably while you’re still paying off that hospital bill from the initial diagnosis. Trust me, I know it’s overwhelming.

Normally I would say to do what you can as you are able to do it. But for your diabetic loved one, this is truly a life-or-death proposition. A 5-year supply of food does your loved one no good when his 4-week insulin supply runs out. So in this situation, I say do what you have to do. Tap into your savings account. Sell some of your silver stash. If I had to, I’d consider allowing myself a little credit card debt.

I can’t think of any earthly consideration more important than the welfare of my children. They rely on me, and now I have a T1D kiddo who relies on insulin, meters, lancets, and test strips for SURVIVAL. I refuse to let her down.

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Kris

Kris is a busy mom, wife, and teacher. She makes her little homestead on two sprawling acres in Tornado Alley with her husband and 3 children.

67 thoughts on “Prepping With Type 1 Diabetes”

  1. I’m a T1D, prepping in case of emergency. I have enough to last about a year. My issues was refrigeration, so thank you on your suggestions. By the way Insulin is sold without a prescription at walmart for about $13/vial and I believe it’s Reli On and is kept where the lancets and testing strips are located. That will help people who’s insurance won’t allow extra.

  2. Kris, I’m sorry to hear that you have to deal with T1D. DH has been T1D for over 20 years. He had a heart to heart talk with his diabetic specialist doctor about 5 years ago when he got the pump. She upped his prescriptions of all supplies so he has a minimum of 3 months on hand. He was up front with her on his concerns on a Hurricane Katrina, Ike, or Sandy like disaster. Also he does reuse needles and pen needles occasionally, and has stated they hurt more if you reuse them too much. Thank you for the wonderful write up and good luck with you on you future preps

  3. Kris, my type 1 diabetic child is grown now, 28 yrs old, but she too was diagnosed young, shortly after her 10th birthday. I still remember how overwhelming it was. 5 days in the hospital learning to care for a diabetic child, how to use the meter and administer her shots, adjusting meals to fit carb and protein requirements and dealing with those “high” days and “low” nights! Back then I knew nothing about prepping but still worried about the what-ifs; what if we lose our insurance, what if we can’t get her insulins for some reason, what if her meter breaks, etc…. Your article has wonderful tips and info that I wish had been available to me back then. Thank you for posting this and best wishes to you and your daughter!

  4. Thank you so much for this article!!! I am prepping for 3 T1D, daughter, husband and father-in-law…and this has worried me sick. I have envisioned myself wrestling pigs to draw out their insulin for my family…and will if I have too.

  5. A dear friend has the same problem. Our thought to keep the insulin cool in the hot summer months during a power failure would be to use a propane refrigerator. She has a small fridge in her Coleman camper that ran on propane, so even if it were a Solar storm, EMP, or natural disaster, it would work. They slowly built up supplies for her. A solar battery charger with extra rechargeable batteries stored in a Faraday cage for her pump was one issue we covered. In time she was able to accumulate the supplies needed. God Bless and Good luck!

  6. Also, most doctors will write for extra medication if you tell them you will be out of the country for an unknown period of time. This often helps to get “extras”

  7. We too have a daughter who was diagnosed with Type I IDDM at age 9. She is now a healthy adult with her own child. Since we live in a profoundly rural area we were always carefully prepared. She now uses an insulin pump and we always stock about a years supplies Our state does sell the insulin we use OTC but this will only help those who use that variety. We paid our own cash to prep in advance. We also stock an abundance of freeze dried Augason Farms meats, cheese, vegetables and fruits should we need to aid her, as a lot of prepper foods are too abundant in carbohydrate to be helpful in emergencies for such patients.
    We conveyed our concerns for emergencies to our endocrinologist and she has been helpful in allowing us prescriptions for extra supplies thus improving our margin for safety.
    Interestingly, although we have a large family, no one else ever succumbed to Type I. We are told that our own daughter’s beta cells destroyed themselves following infection from the Coxsackie B virus. A recent study indicates that 40% of the children who survive the enterovirus that has been prevalent this year will go on later to develop Type I. Apparently, we need genetic predisposition as well as a trigger which is often viral.
    I have written a great deal on my own blog concerning this and other preparedness issues.
    Our daughter drives, got a university degree, bought a house and has an infant, and so with careful planning, life can indeed go on, but then as you know, it’s more expensive than life without Type I.
    Best wishes,

  8. Katherine Mosteller

    Thank you for posting this article! My husband has T1D and this has been a major concern for us. To those who are currently rely on prescriptions, you can go to places like Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club and buy “generic” long acting and short acting insulins. There not super expensive, either. To those who are concerned about keeping your insulin cool/refrigerated in the event of a power outage, I found a lot of good information from The Patriot Nurse. You can find her on YouTube. There are several specific options for storing insulin. If you live near water, like a stream, you can store your insulin under the flowing water in a water-tight container. You can also bury your insulin in an air-tight container several feet under ground. Also, I can’t recall exactly where I heard/read it from, but the expiration date on your insulin might not be completely accurate. I heard that it can actually be a year longer than the expiration date states if it’s kept properly. I hope this information helps some of you. Look into it more if you like. Thanks, again, for this article. Excellent!

  9. Thank you so much for this post, especially the link to the test strips. Recently I had to go on a trip and my tester had run out of batteries, the prepper in me said no problem go get my back up, it was dead too. So much for the have 2 got 1 rule. While the test strips may not be perfect it would have worked in a pinch for a guy that has to test about 8 times a day.

    A side note here, I was 29 when a mild case of strep turned into a blood infection. The result after almost 2 months in the hospital was a depletion of my beta cells, so it’s insulin for me. I’m now almost 50 and going strong as long as I remember to check my batteries.

    Thanks Again and be sure and tell your daughter to not let diabetes slow her down.

  10. I have been j.d. for 35 years and trust me i have all kinds of advise on how to prep with diabetes but i am afaid to say it on the internet i will say this bible says ask and you shall receive if i can help feel free to email me and my wife please remember say no to doctor on the insulin pump if there is an e.m pulse. It stops working

    1. I will be trying the Dr. Kenneth Pullman protocol to help my type 1 friends cure their type 1. I will try to remember to check back with the resuts.

  11. Walmart sells 3 types of NPH INSULIN for about 24 dollars a bottle. I usually buy a few. I get the rest from the VA. So I have some on hand.

    Check pharmacies see if they have alcohol pads as to cheap costs.
    Lancets I use alcohol and keep the needle clean.

    If everything falls apart take and get plenty of cotton sheet type cotton comes in strips, get a bunch of it take and wrap the bottle with the cotton use alcohol or water get the gauze wet tie the bottle with a good string and twirl it for about a minute or 2 and it will cool down.

  12. I have a friend who travels the world by vehicle and and uses a 12v / 110v refrigerator-freezer to keep his insulin cold. But one has to be careful as there are several on the retail market with varying performance. The ones you see at the discount big box stores are around $100 and use electronics to cool or heat the interior. These will suck the life out of you car battery very quickly.
    The higher end units run 500-800 dollars, have a few sizes (capacity) and use a small home style effective compressor but run on both 12v and 110 (some 240V) and can be adjusted to keep things cool, cold or will freeze solid anything you put into them! These will run for as long as 2-3 days on a charged 12v car battery depending on battery size and amp hour rating. The refer can be set to sound an alarm when your battery starts to get low enough that it may not start your car. I have one for camping which I have tested it for for prepping at home with a solar panel (90 watt) for use in an extended grid down situation. The battery is easily charged by the solar panel if you have sun and kept it working for days until I shut it down with a still charged battery. Mine is made in Australia where they have been in use for years in the outback.

  13. The idea that humans ( adult, children, or even toddlers) have a minimum carb requirement is wrong. We all do well ( probably best) with near zero carbs . There is no such thing as carb defienciency in humans. If a person is too low in carbs (rarity) the body can convert protein to carbs in a process called guconeogenisis

    1. That is false for diabetics. They cannot convert protein into carbs. They will bottom out and can go into a coma. For them to go on an all proline diet is a death sentence

      1. Untrue. Check out Dr. Bernstein and the thousands of success stories from people and parents of children with T1 diabetes on a low carb diet thriving and with regulated, non-diabetic blood sugars. We’re living proof! 🙂

    2. I know this is an old thread, but i want to correct some bad information: TD1 folks can survive on very low levels of insulin if they follow the very low carb diets (20-50mg/day). They may never need to bolus (wheehoo!), which will make a bottle of insulin last a LONG TIME. We still REQUIRE basal insulin to cover the background biologic/ energy conversion processes that keep our cells fed. My basal rate went from 20ish units per day, to 13units per day on a ‘keto’ diet (very low carb), with rare boluses needed (less than one per day, and always less than 1 unit per bolus). I use less than a 1/3 of my former daily insulin requirements, but without that 13units of insulin daily, i would slowly die, starving to death over several months. This diet was the best treatment they had prior to the discovery of insulin- it prolonged life, but it was eventually a painful death by starvation for those TD1s.

      To be clear: Someone with TD1 will NOT survive longterm without injected insulin, but can survive for a long life on very low doses of basal insulin (either long acting, or reduced basal rates on a pump) on a very low carb diet.

      I’ve had TD1 x25+ yrs, no complications, world traveller, living a full and exciting life.

  14. I agree with an earlier post. Almost all physicians will write an rx for extra supplies. Your insulin needs are always in flux and it is typical for your insulin need to increase over time. Doctors understand the limits on supplies placed by insurance companies. My doctor typically writes my rx for a higher insulin amount then I am actually using, then the automatic refill helps for stockpiling.

  15. I was 10….and diagnosed w/ hypoglycemia……flipped to type 1 at the ripe old age of 22…..yep 22..?…thanks for all the insight! awesome info…I have insurance, however I did not know that Walmart sells insulin OTC….I’ll be checking into this….I asked my Dr. if he would just right out the max that he thought my carrier would cover….I do not pay for my supplies: so I’m able to help my niece when she is running low….she has Type 1 also…it’s our family cures….myself, sister & my niece have it….I’ve got about a year supply at all times….but when that runs out ? ? well it just runs out…..we just have to pray for the best…I can if need keep my insulin refrigerated buy keeping my drugs in a zip-lock baggie and storing in my cistern….it stay’s about 50* in the summer months if that was to fail….same thing using the pond out back….just keep it in a dark container….and submerged deep away from the sunlight.

  16. My daughter was 6 when she was diagnosed, now going on 13. I have been scared to death about how to prep for her, but it can be done. She is on a pump and her Dr. gave us a prescription for enough insulin to fill the pump reservoir completely every 3 days. It didn’t take long for me to learn that it did not have to be completely full to work and that we were tossing 3/4 of the insulin in the trash! I now have a 2 year supply of insulin on hand. I also had my Dr. give us a prescription of “back-up” supplies in the event of pump failure, which has happened. I can not get stocked up on pump supplies, but we can go off the pump at any time and be fine! Just have to work on keeping the insulin cold.

  17. Both of my sons were diagnosed in 2007 as T1D. My younger son, now 18, has more trouble keeping his blood sugar under control. He has had some pretty spectacular lows. We learned something really important from our diabetic educator. Honey sticks work just as well as the glucose shots for low blood sugars in which the patient can’t chew or swallow. The glucose shot costs about $100 and are only good for a year. Honey sticks cost 25 cents and last forever.

    Cut open the end, or bite it off in an emergency, and put some on your finger and wipe it on the inside of the cheeks and lips. It does need to be swallowed, it will absorb through the skin. Don’t put so much in the mouth that it could choke the patient. Put small amounts in the mouth continuously until the patient can eat or drink.

    My sons keep honey sticks in their med bags, and I have some in my purse, plus we have some at home. We keep them in toothbrush containers.

    As for keeping insulin cool, we have a tiny DC refrigerator that I found at the thrift store that can run off the car cigarette lighter. Plus we have the materials to make a zeer pot. http://practicalaction.org/page/3730

    We do as others have done by ordering meds the day they are available and so we’ve been able to gradually build up our supply.

  18. Not a lot I can add to what’s been said. My grandson was diagnosed before 2 years old. He’s now 11 and on pump. Tictacs and Meat sticks (like spice sticks) are good to keep on hand. He’s sometimes picky and they have no carbs, so he doesn’t have to be tested to eat them anytime.

  19. This has been a very helpful post, which I will share with a Type 1 friend.

    Thank you for emphasizing the huge differences between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.

    The challenges for my own situation (kidney disease) requires a special diet, and supplements with various shelf life issues. Much ‘food for thought” here.

    Have you considered storing some preps at a relative or best friend’s house? Where your daughter might find herself in a time of trouble?

  20. Repeat on the Walmart ReliOn insulin, They offer R, N and 70/30 for $24.88 per vial, which is 1000 units. If you’re stocking, DO check the expiration date of the vials, which is printed on the top of the box. You can ask the pharmacist tech for the vials with the longest expiration date.

    Alcohol swabs; be aware there are different kinds and concentrations of alcohol, so let’s talk specifics. Swabs are usually isopropyl, You may notice in the past few years a preponderance of 50% isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol. This is the lower limit considered by CDC to be effective. Compare the price of 50% to 70% and 91%. Comparing regular, non-sale prices, I think you’ll see that you get more for your money with the higher percentages. If you need the lower concentration, you can dilute with sterile water.

    As with alcohols, there are different pathogens you’re trying to kill at the injection site and they don’t all die at the same rate of exposure. Just a thing to consider and you can check the CDC website for disinfection guidelines.

    All that considered, isn’t soap as good as alcohol? I confess i never use alcohol for disinfection. Never had an infection.

    Second confession. I can use the same syringe for two weeks, rinsing after use with tap water. Again, never had a problem. I’m not counseling anyone to do it, but giving ONE user’s confirmation that this guideline may be correct for some.

    1. My son is now in his twenties, he has refused to disinfect site out of laziness/exasperation/too much in a hurry. He has never had an infection (no amount of mother hovering can make a 21 year old do what you tell him to 🙂 ) he also reuses his needle without disinfecting it. I do not recommend this at all, but as a note that in an emergency, don’t panic, try to be as careful/sterile as possible, but if you can’t, do your best.

  21. I LOVE this article and have shared it with some T1 parents… I had a thought though that I was unsure of…. I know for the meters they need to be in a Faraday cage… but how about the test strips? I know they have computerized parts in them… should they be put in there also? I have also heard there is some controversy on whether electronics will work if at the time of emp they weren’t in use… example, cars that weren’t running, computers that were totally cut off and not plugged in to outlet, etc… Thoughts??

  22. Kimberly-I posed your question to Dr. Alton of doomandbloom.net. He says he doubts anyone has researched the vulnerability of strips, but if in doubt, he suggests keeping them with the meter–if nothing else, for organization. So I guess the answer is that nobody really knows. Sorry.

  23. For a t1d BOB, you could buy a frio insulin cooling wallet on Amazon. They can stay cool for up to 3 days. All you have to do is dip them in cold water. Just a suggestion.
    Also useful for camping trips, plane flights, etc.

    1. The Frio cooling pouches are beneficial, but they only cool to room temperature (77-79 degrees F, I think), though that would be better than 90+ in certain areas/situations.

  24. Thank you for all the great information. My mom is t2 and this will be most helpful.
    Fyi, the problem with reusing the needle/syringe is fine if the same person uses it, as per your doctor, but the real concern is contaminating the vial of insulin with the used needle/syringe. That is why there is no real concern with the pen, you’re not injecting air into the pen to get the insulin.

  25. It is so important to prepare for YOUR emergency and not someone else’s. Excellent job finding out what is important for you and your family. We encourage everyone to be careful of simply following someone else’s emergency preparedness checklist because you are preparing for their emergency and not yours. Many things will be similar, but they many also be drastically different. Again, great job! This is one of the best posts we have seen for preparing with a Type 1 diabetic in mind. Thank you!

  26. It is so important to prepare for YOUR emergency and not someone else’s. Excellent job finding out what is important for you and your family. We encourage everyone to be careful of simply following someone else’s emergency preparedness checklist because you are preparing for their emergency and not yours. Many things will be similar, but they many also be drastically different. Again, great job! This is one of the best posts we have seen for preparing with a Type 1 diabetic in mind. Thank you!

    1. Bingo! Before my son’s diagnosis, I was prepping carbs all day. lol Now it’s like…canned meats and veggies. 😀
      Bernstein is such a great resource for all diabetics.

  27. Linda-thanks for the recommendation! I just purchased the book on Amazon. We have definitely reduced carb intake and sometime struggle to get to 130 carbs/day.

    In looking at the article, 23 of the sources were specific to Type 2 Diabetes. Only 2 were specific to Type I. I actually linked and read those case studies, and none of them included children who need carbs and energy for growth. The low-carb diet reduced glucose levels–the only better solution was STARVATION. Type 1 adults aren’t concerned about bone and muscle development. My 10-year-old is. I can’t wait to see how the book addresses this solution for children and teens. During puberty, glucose levels go nuts just because of hormonal changes. I doubt eliminating carbs would reverse that, but I want to read the book before discussing it with our pediatric endocrinologists. Thanks again for the insight.

    1. I know this is not timely at all, but I came here for disaster prep for my T1 and LOVE this article.
      I have a 12 year old and we follow Bernstein closely. Check out Typeonegrit on Facebook. TONS of info and families with growing, thriving kids with stable blood sugars all on low carb.
      Please keep up the great work on your blog! T1 has really rocked our world, but reading your post has encouraged me that it really can be done.

  28. When I was diagnosed as a type 1 diabetic in 1971, my doctor gave me one glass syringe, 2 needles, and a stone used to sharpen knives. He then showed me how to resharpen the needles. I used those two needles for several years, until disposable needles (not syringes) became available. I kept the hardware in a container that I cleaned with alcohol. I would not recommend washing needles and syringes with water (unless they were flushed with alcohol and thoroughly dired) before use.

  29. Ask your doctor for samples of the insulin you or your child uses. Drug reps leave lots of samples at drs offices, so that the Drs prescribe there particular companies product to newly diabetic patients. A couple years ago ( I didn’t have very good insurance, ) I bought reli-on insulin at Walmart or got samples the rest of the time. Wish I had been prepping then. I could have really stocked up. I still get extra vial’s from Walmart, our store pharmacy required a script from the dr. OTC price $24.00ish a vial. I reuse my needles, but I keep them in frig next to my insulin. No problem so far. I’m type 2 but walmarts reli-on brand has fast & long acting plus a 70/30 mix. Don’t know if that could help you all.

  30. Good article and thanks for pointing out that T1 and T2 are different conditions,. its one of the most frustrating things reading an article online about how ‘changing your diet alone can control your diabetes’
    Me and my gf are both T1,. I’m not too concerned about SHTF but i do get frustrated because I’d like to live off grid out of choice,.however without 1st world medicine and medical care its clearly not a sustainable life-long option 🙁

    much love to all the other T1’s on here though x

    1. So true. I can’t say how many times I have had to stop someone when they voice concerns over my son’s ‘diet’. Type one needs a new label to seperate it from the massive misunderstanding and miscatogorizing with type two. I shake my head every time someone says, “wow, he isn’t overweight, why does he have diabetes?”
      Best of luck to all in the fight for normal numbers 🙂

  31. Ask your child’s (or yours) endo to write full prescription insurance will allow. If newly diagnosed most patients will go through a ‘honeymoon’ phase while the pancreas slows down in insulin production. It took my son’s pancreas 9 months to completely stop. During that time I was able to fill all his prescriptions even though he didn’t use everything. Now we have so many lancets, strips, and needles it will last for a few years if rationed. Insulin will last past exp date, however don’t take it for granted. Insulin is notorious for ‘dying’ quickly when it decides to go. It can be good one day and the next basically worthless. My son shot into the 400’s using insulin that was working the day before. During summer this is something that happens quicker with insulin in the warm air. Great post!

  32. That you for this. My son was just diagnosed less the 2 months ago shortly after his 6th birthday.
    Such a messed up disease. We work and have access to a farm, garden, cows, etc. Basically survival if something went down. We aren’t yet doing a lot of prepping, but I’m interested and learning lots about it. But Wow right?!! Planning location, food, how too, seems easy now. It’s overwhelming trying to guess how much for how long to you prep something that this person, child will need Forever! I can plant more food in the summer, butcher another chicken, and chop some fire wood. I can’t grow more insulin for my baby. I also have 2 more kids and a baby on the way, so in the same situation that there could be more of my kids with this too.
    Kinda makes maybe a zombie apocalypse seem like the best idea. No one left to rob the pharmacies for our life saving medicine supply needs lol… And 🙁 bad humor. Sorry.
    Anyway thanks for the ideas to get started with a little stock pile anyway. Hopefully that’s the most any t1ds will ever need to have stored up.

  33. There is an old school insulin avaliable at walmart. And walmart only. Its called 70/30
    It is tougher to caculate but it has both your long and short acting rolled into one.
    Its 24.88
    Its better than nothing. Only comes in a bottle. But it works and works just fine.
    Good luck. I too am searching for ways to stay alive with my t1.

  34. So glad there’s an article dedicated to this, specifically. Just wanted to let everyone know that you can also find all the first aid equipment you need for prepping no matter what your health needs may be at TopDogPreppers.com We have survival kits and emergency kits for both our daughters who have diabetes, as well as bug out gear, food storage for all our varying needs, and more. Ready for anything!

  35. Constance Worrier

    I am a T1 who was not diagnosed until I was 26. I did not have health insurance when I was diagnosed and self treated for the first year. In my state (commonwealth, actually) I can get regular (R) and long-acting (N) insulin along with syringes OTC at walmart. I currently use RX pens, but keep some of the walmart stuff around. The insulin I use now is certainly better, and when I was using the walmart insulin, I was more prone to lows as the R stays in your system longer than say apidra or humalog and doses can overlap. But I managed to keep my A1c at a 5.8 using it during that first year. As for reusing needles/lancets, I was them until they start to hurt/bruise me. I leave needles screwed on to pens until I change them. I never use alcohol wipes on myself, though I always used them on insulin vials. I have not had any ill effects and the efficacy of my meds has never been affected by these practices. Having said this, I was diagnosed as an adult and have always been in control and fiercely independent when it comes to my diabetes. I have an 11 month old son now and a daughter on the way and can only imagine what it would be like to worry about your child anytime you are not in proximity and can SEE that they are ok and to be there to act quickly when they are not. Now for some unfounded opinions:
    I do not believe we are close to figuring out the complex puzzle that is diabetes onset. No ammount of vitamin d or special diet or anything will keep it away if you have it. It is just a time bomb situation.
    Now for some cold hard facts:
    Type 1 diabetes is not a death sentence, but any extended period without proper medication is.
    There is no cure, only treatment.

  36. Pingback: Children Diabetes Survival Skills | New Treatment for Diabetes

  37. One other opton to storing when shtf is to place a container in the ground and bury your supplies. Yes it will be a pain but so was bearing these children much burying them.

  38. My hubby is type 1 diabetic as well, and it’s extremely scary. We have been known to be snowed in for days and I panic just thinking about what if he runs out. There is “animal” insulin that I’ve been trying to research and see if in a pinch it would be safe for humans. It’s much cheaper but I keep running into brick walls on whether it’s human worthy.

  39. Fantastic article! I was getting SO frustrated trying to find ideas. I am a T1 on a pump, and have decided to stockpile pump supplies by using my pump exclusively for my basals and then using a pen for boluses. This way, I can do a set change every four days instead of three, allowing me to eventually build up a stash of extra infusion sets. I got the pen and supplies for free from my diabetes nurse educator and paid out of pocket for the special vials of insulin it uses.

    I also follow Dr. Bernstein’s low carb diet – works well for me. I know I have to take insulin to live, but I want to take as little as possible. My basals are finely titrated, and I never have to bolus too much to cover the small amount of carbs, so hardly ever get lows. If I can reduce insulin requirements for meals and mostly just use it for basals, I can make each vial last longer.

    Second note – please, everyone, be careful when cooling insulin! I once packed an extra vial in my luggage and it froze in the cargo hold, which rendered it useless when I got to my destination. Totally dumb mistake on many fronts (including risk of lost luggage!) If you plan to keep it “on ice”, make sure it doesn’t get TOO cold! You can’t let it freeze, but I don’t know exactly what temp will cause it to degrade.

  40. My son is also T1D…i have always worried about an EMP…how to keep his insulin refrigerated..i am looking into pioneer days…root cellars can be cool…not sure how cool…then i was thinking my in laws have a crock well..i could put the insulin into an air tight container and store it in the well? So if i have enough insulin for a year and still no electric…then what…no more insulin being produced…our kids die? That is our reality..as awful as that seems…i have tried to think of every scenario possible…

  41. Now for the 2017 Update. It seems the solution was fairly simple. It has now been found that injectable solutions of insulin can be frozen under certain conditions and maintained in the frozen state for prolonged periods of storage without deterioration, thawed for injection without alteration of physical, chemical or pharmaceutical properties, with maintenance of the efficacy of the time at which it was first frozen. The thawed solution can be injected at once, or can be kept for the period it would have been considered good at the time it was first frozen, i.e., the normal expiration period resumes at the point at which it was suspended. the drug insulin can be stored for an indefinite period of time without any loss of its physical, chemical or pharmaceutical characteristics. The drug solution is instantly frozen as, for example, in liquid nitrogen,
    Current practice and regulation prohibits freezing insulin because of physical and chemical deterioration, and the consequent loss of physiological activity, which occur during the freezing process. Such prohibitions have heretofore been wise and necessary and remain so if proper freezing technique is not employed since deteriorated insulin will not effectively arrest the diabetic condition, resulting in a coma or death. It has been found, however, that if the freezing process is sufficiently rapid, the deterioration which occurs under normal freezing processes does not occur, and the insulin retains its full potency and efficacy. In order to attain sufficient rapidity, the insulin, preferably in injectable form, i.e., a conventional injectable solution, and preferably packaged for sale, is subjected to extreme low temperatures until frozen. A convenient and relatively inexpensive technique is to immerse the solution in appropriate containers into a bath of liquid nitrogen, at a maximum temperature of about -320.4 F., until frozen, i.e., for at least about 3 to 3.5 seconds per cc. While a liquid nitrogen bath is a convenient and relatively inexpensive manner of attaining sufficient rapidity in the freezing process, any other mode of operation which will result in a comparably rapid freeze can be utilized.
    In other words, Get some liquid nitrogen, flash freeze at 3 to 3.5 seconds per cc. transfer to a freezer and it’s life becomes indefinite. This has been tested, proven and a patent even given for flash freezing methods. the great thing is, once thawed if the bottle expired 2 years before you froze it, it expires 2 years after you thaw it and so forth. so hope is renewed!

  42. And now the 2017 update for long term insulin storage. It has now been found that injectable solutions of insulin can be frozen under certain conditions and maintained in the frozen state for prolonged periods of storage without deterioration, thawed for injection without alteration of physical, chemical or pharmaceutical properties, with maintenance of the efficacy of the time at which it was first frozen. The thawed solution can be injected at once, or can be kept for the period it would have been considered good at the time it was first frozen, i.e., the normal expiration period resumes at the point at which it was suspended. the drug insulin can be stored for an indefinite period of time without any loss of its physical, chemical or pharmaceutical characteristics. The drug solution is instantly frozen as, for example, in liquid nitrogen,
    Current practice and regulation prohibits freezing insulin because of physical and chemical deterioration, and the consequent loss of physiological activity, which occur during the freezing process. Such prohibitions have heretofore been wise and necessary and remain so if proper freezing technique is not employed since deteriorated insulin will not effectively arrest the diabetic condition, resulting in a coma or death. It has been found, however, that if the freezing process is sufficiently rapid, the deterioration which occurs under normal freezing processes does not occur, and the insulin retains its full potency and efficacy. In order to attain sufficient rapidity, the insulin, preferably in injectable form, i.e., a conventional injectable solution, and preferably packaged for sale, is subjected to extreme low temperatures until frozen. A convenient and relatively inexpensive technique is to immerse the solution in appropriate containers into a bath of liquid nitrogen, at a maximum temperature of about -320.4 F., until frozen, i.e., for at least about 3 to 3.5 seconds per cc. While a liquid nitrogen bath is a convenient and relatively inexpensive manner of attaining sufficient rapidity in the freezing process, any other mode of operation which will result in a comparably rapid freeze can be utilized.
    In essence, if you have a way to keep something frozen, insulin can be flash frozen via liquid nitrogen and stored indefinitely until needed. This does NOT include sticking it in your freezer to freeze it, it HAS to be flash frozen. The method has been tested and flash freezing methods have been given a patent as well.

  43. T1D here Chris thanks a million for your hard work on this info im a prepper and often worry as my brother and father are also preppers and T1D. Somthing to keep un mind and this is our plan as we are very skilled T1D’s combined we have 70 plus years as T1D’s but by no means doctors we are general contractors and would take this advice with the same caution and disclaimer you gave…but here are some other things to keep in mind walmart sell’s an inexpensive fast acting insulun over the counter no RX needed for approx $25.00 per vial. My endocrinologist says im wrong but in my opinion its a bit weeker than novalog and humalog im used to a pump with novalog. My endo is no diabetic so i know what i feel like on novalog vs walmart over the counter insulin so idc wat my endo says if u use it check your blood sugar a bit more often just one or twice more a day for a few days so you can see how it works for you. When the econmy crashed it litterally saved our lives, its NOT garbage but in my opinion for lack of a better term a bit watered down. Point #2 All insulin gets weeker with age. Point #3 All insulin is weekend drastically by light of anykind keep it as dark and cold as possible, if u live in an area that has seasonal change you can put your stock pile deep in the ground if there is no electricity and it will stay cool even in the summer months i keep my strafoam containers from my medical supply company insulin shipments for this and alwayse stockpile the little freezy bags and freez all of them whenever we have a hurricane thret here on the coast . Point #4 know wher fresh spring water is at in your region get a few maps mark the exact location of the actual spring as that water typically stayes between 45 and 65 degrees so you can put your insulin stash in a bag tie it to a tree and it will stay nice and cool. Point #5 keep travel size containers full of corn syrup for possible lows blood sugars it lasts forever and extremly potent also prepackaged tubes of cake frosting work well too and last forever and easy to portion just the right amount. If you run out of test strips or loose your glucometer and u cant test and u use to much frosting to the rescue. Hold off if u can and only eat and dose at your 12 hour high points mine is 4p and 4a, it will save on insulin taken with meals if you combine your 12 hour highs with meal times eat as few carbs as possible, hard to do on MRE’s. Point #6 keep maps with pharmacy locations marked and handy. Point #7 in my opion pen insulin doesnt keep as long as vial of course my endo disagrees but again experiance trumps opinion, one good thing about pens is when they fill your script you get 1.5 vials to 1 box of pens idk why insurance compnays dont question it but they dont. Point #8 you dont need pen needles to inject when i get pens i use my hypo i get sick once or twice a year so i come off my pump let my bs run a little higher till im better again so i dont get a low and dont realize it if im on cold medicen or somthing like cold medicen, the doctor alwayse allows a few boxes of pens once a year for me from the local pharmacy i have also dropped my last vial on the tile floor and once a year my insurance company will allow an emergency 30 day supply and i get pens so i always have a stock pile. Point #9 there is zero alternative to insulin for a T1D do watever it takes to get and store your insulin BEFORE BEFORE BEFORE a crisis happens. If the worst happens and you run out while your region is still in crisis do watever it takes to get more. Point #10 after a crisis occures tell absolutly no one that you have T1D as they will know that theres a possability that you have some.

  44. Thank you so very much for your post. I’ve been type 1 since 1983, my daughter was diagnosed at age 7, in 2002. I’ve thought about using a good quality zip type plastic bag to store insulin in for placing in cold, running water like a creek. I’m thinking a bug out type situation. I’ve read this somewhere years ago. I’m not a newbie, but definitely not truly prepared. I struggle between prepping for staying in place, or bugging out.

    Too, a huge thank you for clarifying the difference between the types of diabetes. Some people truly mean well, but just don’t understand.

    Looking forward to receiving emails. I signed up 🙂

  45. Kris, thank you for this post. We have been prepping for a while and thought we were fairly comfortable until my 10 year old got diagnosed T1D a month ago. This was a worst case scenario for us. Now I have been reassessing all of our supplies and figureing out new inked to lay in. I asked the doc for an additional humolog script and he was nice enough to give us a free sample. A couple notes I may add FYI if I may. For those like us that are cash pay or still using needles versus pumps. Pens though more expensive last longer as they are smaller amounts then the vials so you throw away less.

  46. Bryan T1D father

    Great post for T1 families.
    Since EMPs were mentioned (or any long term loss of power) the #1 issue unique to T1s is keeping stored insulin cooled until opened (assuming you have adequately stockpiled supplies for term of power loss).

    Insulin unopened is supposed to be refrigerated, not frozen (36-46F, 2-8C), & under 85F after opening. Life ~2 years unopened, 28 days once opened (probably longer actual life). That means with lower carb intake, minimum 1 vial per month needed.

    1 option is to BURY the unopened insulin up to 12 feet underground. Even in desert areas that should get you close to 60F, especially if burial in shaded area near water with moist soil. Protect with packaging (zip lock\ water proof Tupperware). Unopened bottles are sealed pretty well. Consider burial in linear fashion & marked so you can dig one up every month & not disturb the rest.

    Ultimately, insulin becomes “LESS EFFECTIVE” before it becomes completely inert, so last bottles used will require more insulin for same effect.

    30 bottles will probably get you through 2 years given likely lower carb intake, which will increase insulin sensitivity & make later bottles last a little longer, even if warmth has reduced effectiveness.

    Underground vs surface temps:

    https://www.builditsolar.com/Projects/Cooling/time-lag-vs-depth.gif

  47. Our church congregation in Sandy, Utah, recently had as a speaker guest, Kathryn McMullin, from the Utah Preparedness Department. She has some videos on youTube, as well. In her closing remarks about sanitation, she was talking about diatomaceous earth to prevent bugs and some critters from causing havoc in a grid-down situation, and she mentioned that her brother has Type 1 diabetes. My ears pricked up, because my son-in-law also is afflicted with this. She said that awhile ago, he started drinking a cup of water each day with 1 tsp. of food-grade d.e. (diatomaceous earth), because he’d heard that it helps with that diabetes, and other medical problems. When he went to his doctor, the doctor wanted to know what he had been doing, because his need for insulin was now cut in half or less. I bought a big bag of the d.e., so that my son-in-law can try it. You may want to contact Kathryn and get further details, but it was a very interesting piece of information for me!

  48. I am a type 1 also and i want to live off grid deep in the woods somewhere nobody knows. How can I get my insulin? Small plane drop off?

  49. As a Type 1 diabetic who keeps his HbA1C down to around 4.9, I have a couple of things to add to this excellent article.

    1. Stockpiling insulin. My doctor was very supportive in over prescribing insulin, just a bit, – I travel for work a lot, and on the road running out of insulin is bad juju. Due to that, and going on a long term / permanent ketogenic diet, I consistently have an extra 6+ months of insulin in the fridge. I could easily stockpile more if I ordered it from the online pharmacy as soon as I was able, but I don’t want to deal with insulin that is “too old” and thus less effective. I find 6 months to be safe and still useful.
    2. While I wouldn’t recommend ketogenic diets to the world, or even the majority of people, they are fantastic for type 1 diabetics. The biggest challenge healthwise for a diabetic is blood sugar control. Almost no carbs means little insulin required which means less sugar highs and sugar lows. If you only take a little insulin with a meal, the amount your blood sugar can drop is much less than if you take a large bolus and over compensate for the carbs. This, for prepping, has the added advantage of stretching out insulin supplies even longer.
    3. Make a home made Faraday cage and have two blood sugar meters. Rotate them in and out (fully charged when you put them in) every two weeks to keep them both fresh and working. If solar flares / emp / zombie invasion fries all electronics, you’ll need and want that blood sugar meter working
    4. Agree whole heartedly on the solar powered refrigerator. A small one run on solar power (keep the solar device in a Faraday cage, the small fridge should survive an EMP if it isn’t plugged in – if the cage is too small).

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