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Lessons on Preparedness From Hurricane Matthew

Over the years I have often addressed the subject of emergency preparation and managing diabetes – having extra supplies set aside in advance. I’ve written articles, given interviews, and even done a food safety video about losing power with a talking chicken carcass named “Chick.” I have experienced, as most people have, limited periods of having no electricity – no lights, no refrigeration, even no heat. Last year, Hurricane Matthew reinforced everything I have advocated, and taught me a little more. I feel stronger than ever about emergency preparedness for diabetes management.

In many ways a hurricane can demonstrate the importance of preparedness without the immediate physical danger of an “emergency.” Unlike a tornado, wild fire, hazardous material spill or other sudden calamity, hurricanes tend to move very slowly and somewhat – emphasize “somewhat” – predictably. In the case of Matthew, we were ordered to evacuate our home more than 48 hours before the storm actually hit. Having an advance evacuation order gave me ample time to evaluate my emergency “kit” (medications, testing strips, batteries, fast-acting carbs, water, blankets, etc.), and to consider whether I would have been adequately prepared for a sudden evacuation. I’m pleased to say that I would have been, and that my emergency “kit” was ready to go.

Preparation for the aftermath of an emergency

I did, however, become keenly aware of the need to be more prepared for the aftermath of an emergency when we returned home. And again, having evacuated to a safe area we were able to plan for, and easily gather, the supplies we needed without a problem. But, had we been “trapped” at home I’m not sure I fully appreciated how important it is to account for having no water or sewerage services, having no electricity over a wide area for days (no groceries, no ATM for money, no emergency care), blocked roads, the risk for dehydration during cleanup, the marauding swarms of mosquitoes, being unable to leave the area or the absence or refrigeration options.

Emergencies and disasters can happen to anybody, and it is incredibly important to be prepared. My family was very fortunate in our encounter with Hurricane Matthew, and I was well prepared to manage my diabetes over the short term. But, I will prepare more effectively to “survive” for a longer period of time by setting aside more bottled water, more nonperishable food, and a five gallon bucket of mosquito repellent. I hope you’ll take time to consider diabetes and emergency preparation yourself.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.