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Insulin and Power Outages

Discussion in 'Parents of Children with Type 1' started by BrendaK, Jun 7, 2016.

  1. BrendaK

    BrendaK Neonatal Diabetes Registry

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    So we've just moved from Illinois to Florida. We arrived in Florida Sunday and Tropical Storm Colin hit yesterday. I've been super careful with our insulin during our move. We even bought a car cooler that plugs in to the car so the insulin always stayed cold. But now that I'm living in FL I need to be prepared for more storms and power outages. How should I prepare to keep insulin cold in the event of several days of power outage? Do I buy a generator for my refrigerator at home? I wouldn't even know what size or how to do that. What do others do?
     
  2. Lakeman

    Lakeman Approved members

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    Wise thinking. There are quite a few options and I will probably only remember some of them. One possibility is to buy less insulin so if it goes bad you lose less. Of course, if you are stuck without power will there be a supply ready to replace yours when you need it. Personally, I prefer to have a small stockpile. I would not want to be dependent on the pharmacy being open. Or dependent on them getting their shipments.

    There is a device called a frio. You wrap your insulin in it and keep it wet. the evaporation cools the insulin enough so it won't go bad. Will it work in very high humidity conditions?
    You could jury rig something along those lines in a pinch. You just need to know that when water evaporates what is left behind is cooler. Look online for instructions to make a zeer pot.

    You already have the device that plugs into your car - and your car is a mini generator. Not enough to run a fridge but enough to run the cooler in your car and to charge cell phones, etc. Just be sure to have enough gas to run the car. It does not need to run constantly - just enough to keep the insulin cool. The car is probably your best bet and you do already have it.

    If you shop around in the camping section at the store you can find a small thermos. They are rated. Buy the one that will keep something cold or hot for 24 hours. Then you just need to find a way to cool it off every 24 hours. There are small ice packs that activate when you strike or bend them. You would need one per day. But be careful not to freeze your insulin. You are better off to let it warm up to room temp than to freeze it. We have one of these and we find uses for it every summer. in the old days people used to set milk jugs in a nearby stream to cool it.

    You could buy a larger generator. You can plug whatever you want into it up to a point. It will need fuel and you will need to keep the engine in good condition, i.e. maintenance. I have one, I keep it as is from the box so no need to do maintenance but I will need to set it up if I ever need it. I didn't buy it for insulin, I just happened to inherit it.

    If you are in the market for a new fridge at some point you could buy one that runs on propane. I don't know how many people do this but for those who want it that is an option. Then you just need propane tanks.

    Good luck.
     
  3. BrendaK

    BrendaK Neonatal Diabetes Registry

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    Great advice. Thanks. I'll have to do some thinking and probably talk to our new endos to see what people do here. I'm actually shopping for a new refrigerator this afternoon. Need one before we move into our house this weekend. I'll definitely be asking about propane options. I didn't know that existed. We have LOTS of insulin. We get 12 vials for a 3 months at a time between the 2 of us. Plus we reorder as soon as insurance allows. Insulin is the only thing that has no copay so we've made sure to stockpile. The car cooler is a good option for short term but there's no way to keep that running for more than a few hours if it's just idling in the driveway.

    I might get a frio or 2. We just have too much for a frio to hold all of it.
     
  4. jenm999

    jenm999 Approved members

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    Frios are great for small quantities. We use one for our active vial during the summer. Low tech!

    I can't find the article quickly (will have more time later) but I think the degradation of insulin at room temp is vanishingly small, like <5% potency loss per month or something. Obviously this is not ideal, but you will have enough insulin to survive if your entire stock warms to room temp.

    I would think the safest thing would be to keep your insulin in the fridge and the fridge CLOSED until power is restored, and then keep an eye on numbers and replace insulin if you think it's been compromised.

    (I'm talking few days, not zombie apocalypse)
     
  5. Megnyc

    Megnyc Approved members

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    Last August I moved to an area with relatively frequent power outages during storms (at least more than I was used to in the Northeast) and honestly it didn't even occur to me to buy a generator. I have about 12-18 vials of insulin in the fridge at once plus a few boxes of levemir pens and at least 6 boxes of symlin pens but I have always just kept the fridge door closed in the event of a power outage. I think I would just stick it all in one of those styrofoam coolers I get with my insulin in the mail and use the gel packs they are mailed with which are supposed to keep stuff cold for 5 days in the event of a longer term power outage. I always keep a few of the gel ice packs in the freezer. I feel like a few days gives you enough time to find someone with a generator or go to a hotel if the power is not back on.
     
  6. sparty87

    sparty87 Approved members

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    We keep DD's insulin in an unused fridge in the basement. I've filled the freezer with 6 gallon jugs of ice and fridge compartment with more gallons of water. This provides lots of thermal mass, keeping the fridge from cycling all the time and will keep the fridge cold for a very long time in case of power outage.

    I have thought about buying a small generator in case we get another hurricane Sandy, which left us without power for a week. Not sure if insurance would replace insulin lost due to extended power outage.
     
  7. BrendaK

    BrendaK Neonatal Diabetes Registry

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    Great idea about the extra fridge. I bought a new one last night and we will have an extra one in the garage. I also need to ask the insurance company about replacing insulin. I think we may end up getting a small generator but one thing at a time.
     
  8. Beach bum

    Beach bum Approved members

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    When we did a kitchen remodel, we had a whole house generator installed. Worth every penny as we've lost power a couple of times since.
     
  9. BrendaK

    BrendaK Neonatal Diabetes Registry

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    I remember starting this thread when we moved to Florida in June, never thinking we would be taking a direct hit from hurricane Hermine within a couple of months. Wow, we've had a crash course in hurricane preparation this week. For the insulin, we filled our deep freezer with 100 pounds of ice. I figured the Red Cross would help at the nearby shelter if we went through the ice and still didn't have power. But insulin was only a small part. We are in Tallahassee, a city full of massive massive trees that fall as just a part of everyday life not to mention a hurricane. Much of our prep work was how to hunker down and not get hit by a tree if it fell through the roof or windows. The whole experience was surreal and scary - being home with just our family listening to wind and rain and debris go on for hours. 80% of the city is without power today but somehow we were one of the 20% that managed to keep power the entire time. I'm so thankful.

    We all had "go" bags with clothes and toiletries and a family medicine bag if we had to leave in a hurry and couldn't get anything. We had an axe and sledgehammer in our shelter closet in case we got pinned in. Along with the medical bag and pop tarts lol.

    And of course in the true spirit of diabetes showing up at the worst possible moment, Carson got an occlusion alarm sometime around 1 or 2am, right when the eye was approaching, at the peak of the storm. And he was eating a pop tart. So he had to do a site change.
     

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