Three Letters Re: Insulin Dependent Diabetics When TSHTF

I am an Emergency Room physician in Arizona and a preparist.  When I treat people with Type 1 diabetes I routinely mention the need to stockpile and safeguard insulin and diabetes supplies.  When the patient is agreeable I write prescriptions for extra supplies on the spot.  One of my patients told me about Wal-Mart’s ReliOn brand of regular insulin, which is about half the price of other U-100s.  Those SB readers who are physicians and other healthcare providers have an obligation to their patients to inform them and help them obtain the medication and supplies they will need when TSHTF. – Dr. John in in Arizona

First, many thanks to AERC for a very well-written article on Type 1 diabetics in SHTF situations. It was greatly appreciated and well written.

My youngest son (now 7) was diagnosed as a Type 1 diabetic about 2 months after I read [the novel] One Second After by William R. Forstchen (the daughter of the main character is a Type 1 diabetic), and along with getting used to our “new normal” lifestyle, I have also been trying to get prepped over the past 18 months in case SHTF. We are stocking up on insulin, test strips and other supplies, but I felt more was needed. My biggest concerns are 1) refrigeration for medications, and 2) protecting vital equipment from EMP/solar flare bursts.

My solution to refrigeration has been to begin testing a small “six-pack” refrigerator with a battery connection, which my father-in-law found at a swap meet. (I’ve also seen “battery powered coolers” for sale elsewhere.) This refrigerator is big enough to hold a few dozen vials of insulin and requires much less power than any other refrigerator. To keep it going long-term, I plan to rotate several car/deep cell batteries with a solar trickle charger for the duration of the emergency. Based on AERC’s article, I’ll also be looking at other alternatives as well. [JWR Adds: With a couple of 40 watt photovoltaic panels and a charge controller, you should be able to keep a refrigerator running for up to eight years. (The limiting factor is the sulfation of lead-acid batteries.]

For protection against EMP and solar flares, I intend to build a Faraday cage for extra diabetes electronic equipment such as an extra blood glucose test kit (along with radios, laptop, etc.). One possibility I will be trying is a 2-drawer filing cabinet conversion; the instructions are at Instructables. There are other possibilities I’m researching now for small, easy-to-build Faraday cages.

Even with a prepper mentality, along with a parent’s acquired nerves of steel….I still haven’t been able to pick up and read One Second After again since my son’s diagnosis. Just can’t do it. But articles like this one give me hope that, with proper planning, we can weather almost anything as a family. Thanks again. – Z. from Arizona

Dear JWR:
Another option not mentioned in the article is a DC refrigerator, batteries, charge controller, and a few solar panels.  There are other uses for this setup as well. One brand of compact refrigerators to consider is Sundanzer. – S.B., MD

One Comment

  1. Just FYI: I’m a type 1 diabetic and I think those expiration dates are bogus. I have dropped pens under a seat in my car, put them in a drawer and forgot about them. Later, without being refrigerated, I used them and they were still completely effective several months after no refrigeration! So, as long as you have enough, even if refrigeration went down, I don’t think if it stays out, it will be ineffective. You could also put in a ziplock bag and hang in a stream.

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