July 26, 2012
Question from West Virginia, USA:
Our child’s insulin is stored in the refrigerator until opened. With the storms and extended power outage in our area, what is considered safe for insulin storage?
The best advice is to look at the package insert (paper that comes with the insulin vials) for the exact recommendations. In general, insulin is good at room temperature for approximately four weeks, and should not freeze or be exposed to heat or sunlight. Even when you have stored your insulin properly, it is best to be guided by the blood glucose results, as if the insulin has deteriorated you may see a problem with the glucose results. Unopened vials would be kept in the refrigerator, with the temperatures typically being described as 36 to 46 degrees Fahrenheit.
[Editor’s comment: In general, it is probably best to keep insulin in the refrigerator if the power goes out because you would not have any air conditioning and the insulin could get too hot. Keep in mind that it best not to open the refrigerator multiple times during a power outage. If you have a naturally cool basement, it could be the next best place to keep the insulin. A third option would be to store the insulin in a Frio pack. A fourth option would be to place it in an ice chest in which you have put ice with a layer of cardboard/towels, etc. to ensure the insulin does not physically touch the ice because it could freeze making it unusable. Personally, I would consider replacing the insulin if you are unable to keep it relatively cool during a period in which you have multiple days (more than three) without a proper storage place, assuming those days are hot summer days.