NEW ORLEANS - Southeast Louisiana has one of the highest rates of diabetes in the country.
Mix that with hurricane season and, for some, it can be a health disaster. And doctors want to prevent what happened in 2005.
It was a major health lesson we learned the hard way, when Hurricane's Katrina and Rita changed lives and routines for months.
"People with chronic disease, like diabetes, must take extra precautions to be prepared for emergencies that force evacuations, create long term power outages, or even separations from home, where of course their medical necessities are normally kept," said Dr. Laurence Blonde, of the American College of Endocrinology. He is also Director of the Ochsner Diabetes Clinical Research Unit.
That's when the American College of Endocrinology and Lilly Diabetes devised an action plan, since uncontrolled diabetes can be devastating to health.
A free website with a video and checklist, in English and Spanish, helps people with diabetes fight the odds while away, and if they have to see a different doctor. The emergency plan recommends 30 days of medications and many other important items.
"A cooler with four freezable gel packs, a three-day supply of bottled water, blood sugar testing meters, and extra batteries, and sources of carbohydrates to treat hypoglycemic or low blood sugar reactions," Dr. Blonde explains are some of the item that are needed.
Remember, never let insulin freeze, so don't use dry ice.
"I would say, in general, it will stay cool enough a bit after the ice has melted, so 24 hours probably. And try to replace the ice every 24 hours," said Dr. Jeff Jackson, a senior medical advisor with Lilly Diabetes
Also, have a complete medical list of current and past medication, your course of treatment, allergies and other health conditions, test results, such as your latest A1C results, and a first aid kit. Doctor, pharmacy and family contacts should also be listed in your kit.
Doctors say be aware that physical and mental stress can cause fluctuations in blood sugar levels.
"Being able to monitor those fluctuations and take action if necessary is important to maintain good diabetes care during an emergency," said Dr. Blonde.
Dr. Blonde is Director of the Ochsner Diabetes Clinical Research Unit in the Department of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Metabolism, as well as an Associate Internal Medicine Residency Program Director at the Ochsner Clinic Foundation in New Orleans, Louisiana.
For the "My Diabetes Emergency Plan" go to: