Diabetes emergency advice
Diabetes expert warns patients to prepare
Patients’ knowledge of their prescription drugs could mean the difference between life and death in a natural disaster such as a hurricane, an expert warned.
The Bermuda Diabetes Association spoke out as Bermuda’s hurricane season is in full swing and in the wake of Hurricane Harvey in Texas.
Chairman Debbie Jones said: “It may be that you have to evacuate your house and you can’t take all your medicines with you.
“But if you know what they are and why you are taking them, when you get medical help you can get the appropriate medicines.”
The diabetes expert added: “It’s just one of those things that people don’t think about.
“They’ll think about getting batteries, they’ll think about going to get extra buckets, they’ll think about extra rope.
“But people tend to forget that they need to know what medicines they are taking and to have a list of those medicines.”
Ms Jones said while it was important that people with diabetes were prepared, anyone on medication should write down the name of their medicines — both generic and trade, if possible — and their purpose.
They should also note the dosage, the frequency and time at which they should be taken and if they should be taken with food or not.
She added: “If you don’t know what medicine you are on then you should see your pharmacist or doctor and get them to write down the names of the medications and why you are taking them.”
Ms Jones also recommended having a month’s supply available “just in case everything goes down, electricity goes out and places can’t open”.
People with diabetes should also make sure that they have enough syringes, needles, appropriate testing equipment, extra batteries for meters and extra bottles of test strips.
The former manager of the hospital’s diabetes centre added that people who have had type I diabetes for some time could die if they go without administering insulin for 12 to 24 hours.
And she added that those with type II diabetes, or insulin resistance, tend to be on a lot of different medicines in addition to those used to control blood sugar.
These can include blood pressure medication, cholesterol lowering drugs or medicines to help with kidney or eye problems.
Ms Jones said lessons had been learnt from Hurricane Katrina, which hit the United States in 2005.
“People did not have records kept, they didn’t have access to what they were taking.
“When they went to the shelters, they didn’t see their own doctor, they just saw whoever was available and they were trying to remember what it was that they had or what they were taking.
“Sometimes they were correct and sometimes they weren’t and most often they just knew the colour and that doesn’t help anybody.”
Ms Jones said “many died” after they did not get the appropriate medication.
“Getting a copy of your medicines, keeping them safe, putting them into somewhere where you can just grab them and run is a really important thing to do when you start thinking about being prepared.”
She added this “really can” mean the difference between life and death.
Ms Jones said the Bermuda Diabetes Association has cards available where people can jot down the important information.
Anyone is welcome to collect one from the Resource Centre on the corner of Cedar Avenue and Dundonald Street.
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