The Disaster

Sometimes you know that there is an impending emergency or disaster. Each season, for example, may bring its own special weather challenges that can become an emergency. Pay attention to weather reports especially if it looks like extreme or violent weather is a possibility.

Have your plan in place for possible evacuation or sheltering in place.

Evacuation RFS - evacuation-sign

Don’t panic! Keeping a cool head in emergency will keep family members calm and help avoid potential spikes in glucose due to stress.

If you think evacuation might be a possibility try to fill the auto gas tank before the emergency unfolds. Service stations may be closed due to fuel or power outages. Lines may also be very long which could delay your ability to get to safety.

If you are evacuating, plan to take one car per family to reduce congestion and delay. If you do not own a car make transportation arrangements with friends or determine (in advance) if your local government has evacuation transportation available.

Gather your family and, if you are instructed, evacuate immediately. Let others know where you are going. Don’t forget to grab your disaster kit and emergency diabetes supplies.

Secure your home by closing and locking doors and windows. Unplug electrical equipment, such as radios and televisions, and small appliances, such as toasters and microwaves. Leave freezers and refrigerators plugged in unless there is a significant risk of flooding.

Wear sturdy shoes and clothing that provides some protection, such as long pants, long-sleeved shirts, and a cap.

Leave early enough to avoid being trapped by severe weather. Listen to the radio and follow local evacuation instructions. Always follow recommended evacuation routes. Do not take shortcuts; they may be blocked or closed.

You may encounter traffic and delays but remain patient and courteous to your fellow evacuees, you never know, they might be next to you in the shelter!

In high water situations, always be alert for washed-out roads and bridges. Do not drive into flooded areas especially if the water is moving. It only takes six inches of moving water to sweep an average vehicle away!

Stay away from downed power lines to avoid electrocution risks.

When you arrive at the evacuation shelter or a safe location, check your blood glucose levels. Try and stay as close to your normal food, medication and testing routine as possible. This will help minimize potential  health emergencies.

If you have evacuated by yourself be sure to let someone at the evacuation shelter know that you have diabetes and if you have any specific requirements for your care that you may not be able to manage alone.

Do as much preparation as you have time to complete. Once you make the decision whether to evacuate to a shelter or stay in place you just have to ride out the unfolding disaster.

Riding Out the Disaster

Don’t go out in the middle of the unfolding disaster. This only exposes you to unnecessary danger.

Whether you are in a shelter or in your home it is important to stay informed to keep yourself and your family safe. Listen to the news/weather stations or emergency broadcasts which will provide you with ongoing updates on the status of the “emergency event”.

Emergencies can be stressful which can impact your blood glucose levels. Don’t forget to test your glucose levels, eat or take your medications at the prescribed times.

Water, Natural Gas and Electricity

A steady supply of water and electricity are two things we take for granted in modern life. Yet, water and electricity are the two most likely utility services to malfunction in an emergency.


Many types of emergencies can impact the power grid so be prepared to be self-sufficient without electricity for three days to two weeks depending on whether your house is in an urban or rural area.

During the unfolding emergency, lower your impact on the grid by not using excess electricity and unplugging those “energy vampires” that use current continuously. This also reduces the strain on the grid when the power does come back on.

Really prepared folks may opt for a generator to run minimal appliances. But more likely you will be relying on battery or flame power. Make sure that you have:

  • A battery-powered, hand crank, or solar radio on hand. A NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert can also be helpful
  • Flashlight or battery operated lanterns
  • Extra batteries!

Any light source requiring an open flame such as candles should be avoided, if possible, due to fire hazards. White gas powered lanterns can pose a potential carbon monoxide threat, so be aware of that danger and use in a ventilated area.

A camping stove or small grill may be used in an outdoor area to heat foods after the immediate crisis is passed.

Utility Shut-off and Safety

In the event of a disaster, you may be instructed to shut off the utility service at your home.

Natural Gas

Natural gas leaks and explosions are responsible for a significant number of fires following disasters. It is vital that all household members know how to shut off natural gas.

There are different gas shut-off procedures for different gas meter configurations, it is important to contact your local gas company in advance for guidance on preparation and response regarding gas appliances and gas service to your home.

When you learn the proper shut-off procedure for your meter, share the information with everyone in your household. Be sure not to actually turn off the gas when practicing the proper gas shut-off procedure.

If you smell gas or hear a blowing or hissing noise, open a window and get everyone out quickly. Turn off the gas, using the outside main valve if you can, and call the gas company from a neighbor’s home.

CAUTION – If you turn off the gas for any reason, a qualified professional must turn it back on. NEVER attempt to turn the gas back on yourself.


Electrical sparks have the potential of igniting natural gas if it is leaking. It is wise to teach all responsible household members where and how to shut off the electricity.

Preparing to Shut Off Electricity

Locate your electricity circuit box. Teach all responsible household members how to shut off the electricity to the entire house.


As soon as the electricity goes out so does your refrigeration. An unopened refrigerator will keep foods safely cold for about 4 hours. A full freezer will hold the temperature for approximately 48 hours, 24 hours if it is half full.

If you anticipate a power outage that will last for several days, 50 pound of dry ice should hold an 18-cubic foot full freezer for 2 days. Plan ahead and know where you can buy block ice or dry ice and have one or more coolers on hand. Inexpensive Styrofoam coolers do an excellent job.

CAUTION: Dry ice is frozen carbon dioxide, a gas. You must be careful when handling dry ice. Never touch dry ice with bare hands or breathe its vapors in an enclosed area.

Follow these steps to help keep food safe during power outages:

If, as in many instances, you are unable to plan ahead for a power outage longer than 2-4 hours, pack refrigerated food items such as milk, dairy products, meats, eggs, and leftovers into a cooler surrounded by ice. Fresh fruits and vegetables are safe as long as they are still firm and there is no evidence of mold, or sliminess.

If the freezer is not full, quickly group meat packages and poultry items from other foods. If the raw meat and poultry begin to thaw, this will prevent their juices from getting onto other foods.

A digital, dial, or instant-read food thermometer or appliance thermometers will help you know if the food is at safe temperatures. Keep appliance thermometers in the refrigerator and freezer no matter how long the power has been out.

When the refrigerator and/or freezer is operating again, follow these guidelines to decide what to do with foods:

Throw out any perishable food in your refrigerator, such as meat, poultry, lunch meats, fish, dairy products, eggs, and any prepared or cooked foods that have been above 40°F for 2 hours, because bacteria can multiply to unsafe levels under these conditions.

If the appliance thermometer stored in the freezer reads 40°F or below, the food is safe and may be refrozen.

Emergency and Disaster Planning

Disaster Kit

Water and Sanitation

The Immediate Aftermath of a Disaster

Coping Emotionally with a Disaster

Disaster Assistance and Resources

Securing Valuable Information


American Red Cross

Be Prepared California

California Emergency Management Agency

Federal Emergency Management Agency

Kentucky Department of Public Health, Cabinet for Health and Family Services

Washington State Department of Public Health

American Red Cross

Be Prepared California

California Emergency Management Agency

Federal Emergency Management Agency

Kentucky Department of Public Health, Cabinet for Health and Family Services

Washington State Department of Public Health

– See more at:

American Red Cross

Be Prepared California

California Emergency Management Agency

Federal Emergency Management Agency

Kentucky Department of Public Health, Cabinet for Health and Family Services

Washington State Department of Public Health

– See more at: