Mentally Preparing for an Emergency

Tips for prioritizing diabetes management in stressful situations


This has been quite the active hurricane season. After hunkering down for two major hurricanes in the space of a month I realize how important it is to be mentally prepared for emergencies. You might start your preparations by making a logistical plan, but being mentally prepared is what gets you through the actual emergency without derailing your diabetes management or ending up a nervous wreck.

Here are a few things I suggest doing to prepare mentally for an emergency.

Don’t wait for a warning

An emergency can strike at any time and take many forms. While you can make some preparations ahead of time, you can’t really predict what will happen or when. So prepare as best you can in calm periods.

One thing is certain, waiting until an emergency happens to figure out what to do will only add to your stress. Important details might get missed in the rush. You might find yourself staring at empty shelves in your medicine chest or pharmacy. All this instead of being safely sheltered with your emergency supplies packed and ready to go.

So, do your best to get emergency supplies and emergency plans in place beforehand.

There are a number of resources available to help you prepare.

The federal government’s website is dedicated to helping you plan the logistics for all kinds of emergencies. There you will find info on how to make a family plan, safeguard critical documents, protect your pets and much more.

But as a person living with diabetes you’ll need to make additional preparations so that you have what you need to manage your diabetes. The Diabetes Disaster Response Coalition (DDRC) has compiled a comprehensive packing list for a diabetes emergency kit in English and Spanish. The things on this packing list are in addition to the supplies you’ll put in your standard emergency supply kit.

Mentally preparing will help you make clear-headed decisions when the time comes. Where will you go if you have to evacuate? If you had to choose, what supplies would you do without for a while? How will you get prescription refills if your usual pharmacy is closed? These are not decisions you want to have to make under time pressure.

Another major advantage to planning is that you have time to coordinate with family and friends. You can figure out who you’ll stay with if you have to evacuate. Maybe you can even store some supplies at their house “just in case.”

Having a plan in place and supplies packed and ready to go will help you and your family feel confident and give you peace of mind when facing an emergency situation.

Stay informed (but not too much)

Once an emergency has been declared you’ll want to keep an eye on the government-issued alerts. These alerts will let you know the current status of the emergency, if you need to evacuate, and when the all clear is sounded.

But you don’t want to pay so much attention to the alerts that you become obsessed and anxious. Watching the endless loop of the same updates and images on TV is exhausting. Don’t keep The Weather Channel on 24/7 — even with the sound turned off.

Local authorities usually have a schedule for their updates. When you turn off the TV or log off to take a break from the news, check back in soon after the next scheduled update happens.

If you’re afraid you’ll miss important information know that there’s also a wireless emergency alert system that local authorities use to send text alerts to your cell phone.

Do something comforting

Chances are you will be faced with hours of waiting. After a while, it’s impossible to focus on anything like work or studying or chores. Try to find something to do that you find comforting and calming.

Here are a few ideas:

  • Snuggle up with a blanket and read
  • Listen to soothing music
  • Doodle or sketch
  • Drink hot cocoa
  • Meditate
  • Hang out with some people, or not

Be sure to include a few things to keep you busy in your emergency kit. These will help pass the time and provide you entertainment and distraction. The power might go out so include a few things that don’t require electricity or a wi-fi connection.

Some things you could include in your emergency kit are:

  • Knitting or crocheting supplies
  • LEGO kits or pieces
  • Board games or playing cards
  • Your e-reader charged up and loaded with books
  • Fully charged external batteries

Expect to be stressed

Even with planning and preparation, emergencies will be stressful. You won’t be able to anticipate everything that will happen. Your self-care routine will be disrupted. To some extent you’re just going to have to accept the uncertainty and go with the flow. In the end, hopefully, you’ll find some comfort in knowing that it’s better to be prepared — as much as you can.

See more helpful articles:

9 Ways to Manage Stress After a Natural Disaster

Emergency Preparedness With A Chronic Illness

How to Be Prepared for a Weather Emergency with Diabetes