Association of Diabetes Care & Education Specialists

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Keeping Cool When It's Sizzling Hot!

Jul 23, 2013

I hate heat!  I live in the Northern Rockies so I am used to relatively mild summers, but this year we are HOT!  Many of my patients spend almost every weekend camping, rafting, swimming and boating. I recently had a last minute call from a patient saying, “I’m leaving to work on a trail crew for five days, how do I keep my insulin cool? “ 

My patients are going to need to figure out how to keep themselves cool, but I can coach them on keeping their insulin cool and safe throughout the heat of summer. 

There are a number of products on the market that can help keep insulin and even pumps cool while outdoors.  I have several Frio packs I take with me when hiking in the backcountry with teens and adults with type 1 diabetes.  They are light, easy to rehydrate, and appear to do an excellent job of keeping insulin cool without refrigeration.  Just submerge in a cool stream, and they are ready to keep insulin at an acceptable temperature for hours.

The Medicool insulated pack is another option, though a bit bulkier.  The company also has a “mini fridge” that plugs in for travel and even has a car adapter for road trips. 

A new product to me is from the Kewl guys.  The Climapak is able to keep insulin cool for up to 3-5 days without ice or a gel pack.  The company advertises a rental program so your patients can make sure they like the product prior to purchase. 

Generic cooler packs can work. Just remind your patients to keep checking the ice pack, as it warms, and replace it when needed.

Back to my patient….It was a little more difficult to give advice when there was no advanced warning.  They were headed into the backcountry via backpacking for five days without the usual creature comforts.  There was a cool stream nearby camp, and they did have plastic pint-sized bags.  So they agreed to place the extra insulin in a sealable plastic bag inside an insulated lunch bag, place it on the river and cover it with a rock to keep it secure.  It may not have been the best method, but it will be cool and a much better option than developing DKA miles from nowhere! 


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  1. Jul 29, 2013

    Thank you for the ideas. I have a patient who does a lot of world traveling and she uses a frio pack that fits over her pump too.
  2. Jul 26, 2013

    All helpful hints for our outdoor diabetic enthusiasts.
  3. Jul 26, 2013

    Hi, Carla! Thanks for the information. I did not know about the Medicool "mini fridge" and car adapter! Question--What advice do you give to those who wear pumps regarding the insulin in their pump? Do you ever recommend changing the cartridge more often due to exposure to extreme temperatures in the pump?
  4. Jul 24, 2013

    Good thoughts! Would the insulin pens have the same need for keeping cool?

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