As I write, I’m been home bound for 2 days now under 10 inches of snow. I live in Kentucky and we only get this much snow once decade. It’s times like these that make me think of those patients who cannot get to dialysis or just ran out of insulin the night before the snow storm. Are your patients prepared for times like these? It happens so infrequent that we can just get caught up in our usual curriculum or teaching points that we may not remember to engage in dialogue about the “what ifs”. What if you lost power for a few days? What if you were snowed in for several days? What if you had to evacuate your home?
We care so deeply about our patients that I would hate for you to have to be bundled up at home worrying if Mrs. Smith has enough medication or if Mr. Stevens has anyone to check on him.
The Kentucky Diabetes Prevention and Control Program has a section of their main page if you scroll all the way down called “Being Prepared for a Disaster”. I believe it was around the hurricane Katrina time that several of my colleagues put these resources together. Several of the items pertain to winter emergencies as well. There is even a PowerPoint that you are welcome to download and use in teaching.
For winter related challenges, talk with your patients and have a pen in hand to help them write up a plan in case they are snowed in:
-Do you have enough medication and supplies? For example: blood glucose monitoring supplies, insulin syringes, or an extra battery for your pump and monitor.
-Who can you contact in case of emergency? Several of our elderly patients may not have family nearby. When they know something like an ice storm is coming their way, have them call someone and tell them to check in on them every day.
-Do you have enough water and non-perishable food items that could last you for up to 2 weeks?
-Do you have a glucagon emergency kit?
-Do you have non-perishable foods to treat hypoglycemia?
In our county, we have a “Winter Care Program” that was activated where you can call and have the Sheriff’s office take patients to critical medical appointments, provide transportation for hospital and nursing home workers, and also have them check on elderly relatives or loved ones living alone.
What other tips do you have for discussing winter storm preparedness with your patients?