March 15, 2004
Insulin Pumps, Traveling
Question from Stillwater, Minnesota, USA:
My son has been type 1 since the age of 22 months old. He is now almost seven years old. He wears a Minimed Paradigm 512 insulin pump. We are planning on taking a two week road trip from Minnesota to Florida. I am wondering how to keep the extra pump supplies safe. Is there something I should do to try to keep them cool in the car while we are away from it? Also, we will be on the beach, at Disney, and other very warm places, do you have any suggestions for keeping a pump cool in very warm weather?
The item I would be most concerned about is the insulin itself. You will want to keep it at an appropriate temperature. Look on the bottle for the range indicated by the manufacturer. Do not let it freeze by putting it directly on ice, and do not let it overheat by leaving it in a hot car.
I would suggest bringing a cooler everywhere on your trip. Fill it with ice and your usual snacks and beverages for a low, something like juice, fruit, or Gatorade. Then, put the insulin bottles on top, in a plastic bag, making sure they are insulated and not sitting directly on ice. This should keep it nice and cool without freezing it.
At theme parks, ask if the First Aid station will hold your insulin. If not, you can keep most of your insulin in your car in the cooler, and just carry a bottle with you (or a pre-filled cartridge if you’d prefer) in a cooler pack like the Frio or a well-insulated lunch bag or even a thermos. My experience has been that First Aid is happy to hold your insulin and any other prescriptions, as long as they are marked with the prescription label and your name, however, you might find that the First Aid station is a trek away when you need your medication, and that is the downside.
Finally, beware of insulin in tubing that has been outdoors in the heat all day! Just like the insulin in the vial in your purse can overheat, so can the insulin in the tubing and cartridge for the insulin pump. It’s a good idea to go in and out of air conditioning as much as possible to give everything, and everyone, a chance to cool off. If you find, after a hot day, that the insulin doesn’t seem to be working as efficiently as before, i.e., your child’s blood glucose level is running higher than you’d expect, you might try changing out the cartridge and tubing with fresh insulin.