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March 21, 2006

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Question from Phoenix, Arizona, USA:

I awoke this morning to news of a shocking U.S. Government Health Conference this weekend at which the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Michael Leavitt, emphasized the need of the American public to stockpile canned food, water and survival items in preparation of the imminent arrival of the avian flu on U.S. soil. The story is not making headlines across the country but is buried in fluffy quasi-news. This stern warning has me concerned about a stockpile of food, water and diabetes supplies for my nine year old who has type 1 diabetes and celiac disease. Is there currently a sanctioned "National Emergency - Act of God" type of stockpile plan for type 1 diabetics from the CDC or ADA, etc? Our family has chosen to not live our lives in fear, whether of terrorists or chronic diseases; however, we should have all learned a lesson from the inability of the U.S. Government to provide basic services to the victims of Hurricane Katrina. I know none of us will ever forget watching and listening to the 20-something type 1 diabetic who desperately begged to the t.v. news cameras for a shot of insulin. NO ONE knew what to do for her in those early hours after the storm. She did not have insulin, supplies, a glucose monitor or even food or water. I just prayed and prayed for her to find help. I know it is not an easy subject to approach or discuss but preparedness will save lives. We are all vulnerable. If the U.S. Government's dire predictions come close to fruition, there will be supply chains interrupted and medical resources will be maxed out.

Answer:

It’s a good idea to have a Diabetes Emergency Kit prepared and ready, since emergencies are unpredictable. The contents should be everything you need to survive for several weeks, which should be enough for most emergencies, such as natual disasters.

Whether you should stockpile larger amounts of diabetes supplies is a different question altogether, and it’s one we’ve asked of our readers in our online polls. We first asked this in December 1999, in light of anxiety over the pending “Y2K” computer date issue. About half of our readers reported stockpiling extra supplies, half did not.

In March 2003, we again asked if people were stockpiling extra supplies, this time because of a general sense of growing tension in the world. At that time, 37% of people reporting stockpiling extra supplies.

If you choose to stockpile diabetes supplies, be sure to check each item for expiration dates on a regular basis.

JSH