Diabetic preppers: What do you put in your survival bag?

People who are into prepping for emergencies, what do you have in your survival bag that is specific to your diabetes care?

We live in an earthquake-prone area and know we need to have basic supplies, but our emergency bags are old and predate our son’s diagnosis. Any suggestions for what to carry in one of these, and how to store it so you’re not wasting super expensive insulin but also keeping it in the bag you can quickly grab in an emergency?

1 Like

I have a little case that I bring with me everywhere that has a few days (maybe a week, if I really stretched it) of diabetes and medical supplies, just in case an earthquake happened while I was at work or on the bus. Off the top of my head, I carry with me on a daily basis:

Pump supplies: Cartridge, infusion set, quarter, extra batteries
Insulin: Insulin pen, two pen cartridges of insulin, pen needles
Meter: Lancing device, lancets, ketone meter, ketone and glucose strips, extra batteries
Other: Alcohol swabs, Skin Tac, Uni-Solve, squares of tape
Medications: All prescription medications, Advil, antihistamines (short acting and 24 hour)

I also have two EpiPens, an inhaler, glucose tablets (two tubes), fruit leathers, and usually a granola bar or two that don’t fit in that kit. I tend to eat the glucose tablets and food fast enough that I don’t have to worry about it going bad. But I did once find eight-year-old glucose tablets in my earthquake kit. :slight_smile:

At home, I have an earthquake kit that has about two weeks of medical supplies (same as above but more of each). I dunno, I know they say 72 hours, but there’s no guarantee that help will come in that time. And pharmacies don’t keep much insulin on hand, and hospitals may be overwhelmed (and may not have much insulin themselves). I’ve read articles that say major earthquakes take months or years for regions to fully recover from. So I want to make sure I have enough supplies to last a few weeks. A month would be even better, but the backpack I’m using currently is too small.

I actually use my earthquake kit as my travel kit, which is how I keep supplies fresh. So, for example, I have things divided up into little kits within the larger kit. And, when I travel, I’ll grab the kit with toiletries and the diabetes kit and the kit with other medications (but not the first aid kit, that’s another one, LOL) and use them on my trip, and when I get home I just replace whatever I used and put them back in the earthquake kit. This also has the bonus of making packing much less stressful since it’s half done.

The one thing I don’t keep in the earthquake kit is insulin. In my little daily kit, I do keep two pen cartridges of insulin (600 units) in it that I just use and replace when I need to refill my pump. I could do the same thing with the earthquake kit, and I’ve thought of doing that. Having insulin in there that’s a few weeks old would be better than having no insulin at all. And, since insulin is stored in the kitchen, that’s the most unsafe place to go after a big earthquake as there’s likely to be glass everywhere.


So maybe my answer is too “zombie apocalypse”, but it’s just food for thought…

In an extreme case, one thing to consider is that pump supplies are not easily re-used. You can leave an infusion set in for longer than you are supposed to, but reinserting teflon canulas I think is probably close to impossible.

The beauty of syringes is that they are reusable. Many of the old-timers here can attest to this. That used to be how they were meant to be used. I have reused syringes in extreme cases. They can be sterilized with boiling or with alcohol. So I think a box of syringes is GREAT for an emergency. Along with swabs. The syringes can last you almost forever.

In an emergency, use a syringe a few times, but don’t throw it out! Stow it aside, because if you don’t know how long your going to be in a jam, you can always go back to it and use it again. I repeat - never throw out a syringe in an emergency situation.

CGM is a luxury item. If there is no power, your CGM receiver or Dexcom phone receiver app would eventually die and you can’t recharge. I’d go with a big supply of test strips. In an emergency, all you need to know is high or low. Your body can sort that out, just carbs or insulin. Strips take less space in an emergency bag than Dexcom receivers (we’re talking extreme case emergency, right?).

Insulin. Several vials. If you are on a pump, you may not have basal insulin in your fridge. I think this is an absolute must for an emergency. In your case, with a little one, a single vial of basal insulin - which takes almost no space to carry - could last months! Compare that to the size of pumps supplies. So for insulin, I’d include your normal rapid and a basal of some sort.

I’d go with vials of insulin over pens and pen cartridges. We’re talking 1000 units in a vial versus 300 units in a pen. Which would you rather have if you didn’t know how long you’d be in an emergency, 1000 units or 300 units?!?! I’d definitely go with vials of insulin, in unbreakable protection containers!

Everyone needs food and water to survive. So you are all in the same boat for that. The difference for a diabetic is they sometimes need sugar. I’d go with small gel packs, or glucose tabs, a good supply of those. If your survival pack is for everyone, not just the diabetic, then that would of course include the food items. But I think that is not what you are bringing up here.

So my answer maybe is not what you are referencing, but I am talking extreme emergency. I would limit electronics and non-reusable items. The simplest of the survival items: insulin (basal and rapid), syringes, swabs, test strips and meter, and a glucose supply.

Maybe you are talking about a lesser emergency, which of course is a completely different list. And the type of emergency, if it’s days versus months.

Like I said, my answer is more like the extreme ZA scenario where you are completely on your own for months on end.


Twinkies. If the wrapping remains intact, you’re good to go* for 25+ years, enough time for society to (hopefully) re-establish itself after a ZA (it’s only a matter of time).

*Low-carbers, better start stocking up on Spam.


I’ve had an oatmeal cream pie sitting next to my treadmill for over 2 years, and it still looks good. I’m saving it for a rainy day.

1 Like

is this true about Twinkies? I mean, I don’t see them as part of a balanced and nutritious plan, but I’ve purchased that dried out emergency food before and Twinkies seem a decidedly more appealing option.

Thanks! This is really helpful. I think our plan is that I should be carrying around with me (and my son should be carrying around with him) enough supplies for like a week or two, but that our “bug out” bag would consist of things we would need to survive for months.

While some may think these topics are morbid or fatalistic, it is so much better to think through them now, rather than after a disaster has struck and you are in an emergency situation.

This topic has made me think about how one could survive for months on only a single type of insulin. I think I could do it regardless of whether it was a basal or rapid. Either would work to keep me alive, but with advantages and disadvantages.

With only the basal type like Lantus, you could not eat a big meal, but you would graze small bits throughout the day. And you wouldn’t need to worry as much with big spikes or drops, and a single injection covers you for a day. But you could never have a big meal.

With a rapid, it’s the opposite. Lots of ups and downs, lots of injections, but you could consume a large amount when it was available. And you’d have to wake frequently at night to inject.

I applaud you for thinking ahead, and bringing this topic up.

1 Like

I think the 25±year shelf life was a bit of an exaggeration. I think it’s realistically more like 10 years, which is still pretty impressive. And three Twinkies contain the RDA of two very important food groups: sugar and fat. You would only need to round that out with adequate portions of the two other major food groups: salt and caffeine. :wink:

1 Like

Zombie survival kit : glucose meter, spare meter, two bottles of strips, perscription pills, two insulin pens, extra lancets, two tubes of glucose tabs and a nine mm Glock with extra ammo (for the places where my carry permit is good) just to take care of zombies…


I also live in one of those earthquake, wildfire, mudslide, flooding areas. And I worry about this often. So after posting and talking to people decided I needed to be better prepared. I found a plastics box ( like a file folder box) with a handle so I can grab and go. I think I got it at Staples.
Pump supplies-cartridges, infusion sets, tape & cleaner and I plan for two weeks (yes call me paranoid remember Katrina)
Syringes for MDI just in case
Meter and lots of strips
Ketone strips
Alcohol swabs and tape
One dexcom sensor (rotate when I open a new box)
Basic first aid kit
And cords for everything that now needs recharging.
Only thing missing is that solar powered charger (but we are looking into some suggestions) I love that I don’t need batteries but without power which usually happens during any of the above events, my equipment is useless.
Only thing not in the box is insulin. And I always worry about that but hope we can make it to the kitchen to get the bottles in the refrigerator.
I keep this box in the hall cabinet right outside our bedroom door.
My case that I carry with me all the time has many of the same things but just backup not for long term.
Call me crazy but in the 20 years we’ve been in our house, we have been on evacuation notice three times. So we are now prepared, always!

1 Like

In addition to all of the great suggestions here, I recommend putting glucagon in your emergency kit too. in 37+ years with diabetes I’ve only had to use glucagon once, but once was enough for me to make sure I always have it on hand!!

1 Like

Good stuff everyone!

And I forgot glucagon, so thanks for mentioning that!

Something like this might be useful for charging a Dexcom receiver or phone for just long enough to get a reading. I haven’t used one of these, maybe someone else has.


I feel like Dex is such a lifesaver I would hate to give it up in an emergency. if it was something that just lasted a few days we could do without. But then again, if there was an emergency that took us offline for months, I suspect dex’s manufacturing would also be affected and I’m not sure how many sensors we’d have before we ran out. Hard to stockpile these as they’re rationed based on insurance, and if you can’t make them last much longer, that’s tough.

[quote=“rgcainmd, post:4, topic:58750, full:true”]
Twinkies. If the wrapping remains intact, you’re good to go* for 25+ years, enough time for society to (hopefully) re-establish itself after a ZA (it’s only a matter of time).
*Low-carbers, better start stocking up on Spam.[/quote]
This just cracks me up. Someone is a fan of Zombieland like me!! Oh, and consider that these are going to be trade worthy along with being non degradable and delicious :slight_smile:

1 Like

A vial of basal insulin will NOT last for months-- neither will a vial of fast-acting. It will last for a month, maybe a bit more. You’re forgetting everything you ever learned about how long insulin is good for out of the fridge.

I’ve used insulin that has been unrefrigerated for 6 months and it worked fine. I’ve actually tested my doomsday stash. And I did this exactly for the purpose of evaluating what would happen in an emergency situation.

I know, it’s ill-advised, and goes against recommendations. But I think of it as checking the fire extinguisher BEFORE the fire.

Yes, it is totally not ideal, and is only for emergency situations. But it doesn’t instantly disintegrate once it hits a month out of the fridge.

I am not telling anyone to do this. If you want to give up after your insulin has been out of the fridge for a month, because the insulin bottle says it will go bad, go ahead and throw it out. But in an emergency, I will keep injecting it as long as there is a drop left.

Just thought of another example I wanted to share. When I was in college, I did not have a refrigerator in my dorm room. The vial of insulin I was using, I carried with me in a little pack in my pocket, exposed to body heat for 16-18 hours a day. The other vials I just kept in my drawer in my room. I didn’t use much insulin, so a vial would last me about 55 days back then. Basically, that meant the last vial of my set of 3 that I kept in my room, was unrefrigerated for about 5.5 months. This wasn’t done for any purposeful diabetes rules violations. That’s just how it was without a fridge. I never had a problem with the insulin going bad, and that wasn’t just to test it. When I got to the last vial, I used the whole thing. And by the time I got to the last few units, those units had been unrefrigerated for 5.5 months.


The Twinkle defense.

Eddi2 - best zombie apocalypse planning ever! Couple of ideas in your post I’m poaching for my next CDE meeting as I’m nearing retirement which could be a financial healthcare disaster. I’m only going to have to add a toothbrush, hairbrush, and mascara and I guess I’m good to go for a few days :blush:


Ok - that’s going to be an enormous waste of effort - one year we picked up a pile of hand cranked devices at the company store and soon found out why they were available - carpal tunnel loomed as we cracked away for a minuscule blast of power - if you are camping with a bunch of kids who think they might get that phone or IPad going with a hand crank device it will just be great fun to watch their efforts! Better to google the whole marine battery set-up for essential electricity. My electrical engineer has a battery set-up to run our pellet stove when the power is out.

1 Like