Friday, April 06, 2007

Preparedness with Chronic Diseases

Today's second guest blog entry is by Sloane Frost, a student at Cornell University who is currently interning with the American Public Health Association

There are 20.8 million type 1 diabetics in America, according to the American Diabetes Association, and most of us are likely without a sound emergency plan.

I was diagnosed with diabetes a week before my 15th birthday. So like all other high school students, I didn’t want to deal with this extra burden. But after having gone through some close calls of my own, I know how important it is to have a back-up plan in case of an emergency.

That is one of the goals of this year’s National Public Health Week — to help people with chronic illnesses prepare for emergencies, either natural or manmade. The information I have read about the possible impact on chronically ill people such as myself is staggering, and it has motivated me to maintain an emergency kit of my own.

Before I left for college, my uncle gave me a backpack full of supplies to use in the case of an emergency. He packed it tight with all the necessities: a blanket, canned food, water, money, a heavy-duty whistle, flashlight, batteries and contact information for practically every federal agency that was relevant. I’ve added to that the basic supplies that I would need for my diabetes, such as test strips, alcohol wipes, extra lancets, reservoirs, syringes, test sticks and glucose tablets. It’s impossible to keep an insulin vial that will never go bad, so I replace it every month. That check is a good way to maintain the other supplies in my bag and ensure that I always know how to access it. All the materials on disaster preparedness say that you should at least maintain this kit as well as an emergency evacuation plan and other relevant preparations for your individual situation.

I would encourage everyone, regardless of whether or not you have a chronic illness, to make a similar kit. Not only is it tremendous insurance, but I personally know that I takes some of the stress out of my life knowing a safety net is there. Preparing for an emergency could have the same effect for you and your family.


Anonymous said...

Individuals with chronic conditions, without changes to current law, will not be able to access the medications they need should a disaster strike. Because of an FDA regulation, there are restrictions to how prescriptions are filled. Plus insurance companies also regulate how much of a prescription one can get at a time. This means that people with chronic conditions are going to be left without needed maintenance and treatment meds if current federal regulations and insurance company rules do not change.

Anonymous said...

This blog was a good reminder to me about the importance of having an emergency kit prepared and to check the contents on a regular basis. Because I don't take regular medication, I never thought about checking the expiration dates on the over-the-counter medications I keep, but I suppose it's important for them as well? Does anyone know how often they should be changed and what is recommended to have on hand during emergencies?

APHA Flu Team said...

Thanks for your comment. It is important to include both prescription and over-the-counter medications (including pain relievers, stomach remedies, etc.) in an emergency preparedness kit.

Here is a link to a checklist created by the Red Cross:

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