The reality of living in a time of a global pandemic, such as COVID-19, is slowly starting to sink in for millions of Americans. Without any preventive antibodies, vaccine, or cure, it is extremely scary when the closest thing we can do to protect ourselves is to wash our hands, avoid sick people, and remain socially distant at all times. With society all but shut down, here’s our guide to creating an emergency preparedness plan if you get sick and/or need to quarantine in place for a long period of time.
What and How Much to Stock Up on to Shelter-In-Place
With shelter-in-place mandates in all but a handful of states, it’s important to know what you’ll need for (ideally) several weeks without leaving home. People with diabetes are more susceptible to having severe complications from COVID-19, so even though grocery shopping and going to the pharmacy is permitted under a shelter-in-place order, it’s not necessarily recommended. Even though the food supply-chain will not break down, it’s best to not be running to the grocery store any more often than you absolutely need to, so try and stock up on at least two weeks’ worth of shelf-stable food, water, and toiletries. In a pinch, apps like Instacart and Amazon Fresh offer online grocery orders, so if you’re running low on some staples but don’t want to leave home, these are a great option to have.
- Dried beans
- Canned and frozen vegetables
- Canned soups
- Peanut butter
- Canned and frozen fruits
- Canned meats and seafoods
In a March interview with NPR, Dr. Peter Jacobson, a University of Michigan professor of health law and policy, advises a stockpile of at least 90 days for medical supplies:
“People should not be caught short of having enough heart medications, diabetic medications, or any potentially life-saving medication that they need on a routine, daily or weekly or monthly basis,” he said.
Sometimes this can be as easy as signing up for your pharmacy’s mail-order option or talking to your pharmacist and asking if they can fill your routine medications for 90 days instead of 30.
Contacts to Have on Hand
Now is an excellent time to gather all of your important phone numbers for doctors and family members should you need to get in contact with them quickly (or if you fall ill and your spouse needs to contact someone quickly). Important numbers to gather and have in a communal space (like pinned up on the refrigerator):
- Primary Care Physician (PCP)
- Your Employer
- Immediate Family Members
- Trustworthy Neighbor
- Local hospital (where your insurance is accepted!)
- Your Pharmacy/Pharmacist
- Water Company
- Power Company
- Internet Provider
- Children’s School or Daycare
Have a Plan B If You Need to Evacuate
Have a plan in place if you’ll need to evacuate your home or city. Reach out to your support network of family members or close friends should you need to self-isolate due to COVID-19 exposure, or if you feel your city is becoming unsafe and you need to get away. Make sure you prepare a packing list, have a to-go bag ready, and prepare your home if you need to leave quickly. Conditions can change quickly, so it’s important you know where you can go, how to get there, and what to bring if and when you need to leave.
Important things to pack in a to-go bag:
- All medications, insulin, and diabetes supplies
- Cold and flu medicines
- Low supplies
- Toiletries and extra towels
- Clothing/pajamas/exercise clothes and extra socks and shoes
- First aid kit
- Copies of important documents, such as prescriptions and ID
- Chargers for CGM, cell-phone, etc.
- Vitamins and self-care essentials
- Books and important mementos
What Do I Do in the Case of…?
It’s a scary time to be quarantined in your home, away from many friends and family. It’s even scarier when you have diabetes. Here are some common conundrums and resources to help you:
- I Suspect I Have COVID-19: Read up on COVID-19 , and if you suspect you’ve been exposed to the virus, self-isolate immediately and call your physician to describe your symptoms. They will guide you as to what your next steps should be.
- I Have a Bad Low and I’m Home Alone: If you’re home alone and are battling a bad low, call 911 immediately. If you can access your glucagon, get that while you’re on the phone with an emergency dispatcher. It’s best to know how to inject glucagon before you ever need to know. Learn how to do so here.
- I’m Sad and Scared During This Time: If you are having trouble managing the emotional toll during this time, check out our top ways to protect your mental health. You can also take advantage of telehealth, and schedule some time with a counselor to talk about your feelings during this hard time.
- I’m in DKA: If your blood sugar has been persistently high, you have ketones, and you think you may be developing diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), it’s time to either go to your local emergency department, or call 911 (if you are unable to drive). Be sure to act quickly, as time is of the essence when it comes to extremely high blood glucose levels. Medical professionals will be able to re-hydrate you, better regulate your glucose levels, and monitor you, keeping you safer than you will be at home.
Whether you come down with coronavirus, you are quarantined, or you are self-isolating, you may be unable to venture out to pick up your prescriptions. You may be able to get your medication delivered directly to you. Here’s how:
- Reach out to big chain drug stores. Both CVS and Walgreens are currently offering free home delivery of prescription drugs.
- Call your regular pharmacy. Many smaller pharmacies will usually deliver medications for free.
- Try a mail-order pharmacy. They often offer great discounts (sometimes as much as 90-day supplies for the co-payment of 60 days) as well as free shipping. Find out if your insurance company will cover a mail-order option.
- If you need a new prescription, but either can’t get to your doctor’s office, nor can you take advantage of telehealth, consider using HeyDoctor, GoodRx’s telehealth service. HeyDoctor visits cost a flat fee of $20, regardless of your insurance (and even without insurance). They’re currently offering free COVID-19 screening consults.
- Check out new programs directly from insulin manufacturers. Eli Lilly , Novo Nordisk, and Insulet have recently set up new affordability programs.
- I Lost My Job: This global pandemic has quickly turned into an economic crisis, with millions of Americans losing their jobs and having their work hours cut, in short order. In the US, losing a job can often mean also losing your health insurance, which is terrifying for someone living with diabetes. Check out our guide to finding affordable health care if you find yourself recently unemployed due to the COVID-19 crisis.
We’re living in extraordinary times, but having an emergency preparedness plan in place can help you manage circumstances in these extreme conditions. What are some ways in which you’ve planned for the worst (but hoped for the best?). What has helped you the most? Share this post and comment below; we love hearing your stories.
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