As the temperature rises, so do the risks for people with diabetes. Here are some strategies to help you stay safe in the summer sun.
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Summer is already getting off to a hot start. We’ve seen temperatures reach well into the 80s multiple times, and the season is just underway. Here at CareWell Health, we want our entire community to have a safe, enjoyable summer. But for people with diabetes, high temperatures, increased humidity, and even your summer vacation, can present new risks. Here is a quick guide to help people with diabetes beat the heat this summer.
Stick to the shade – According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the heat index can be as much as 15° F hotter in the direct sun vs. the shade. On really hot days where the temperature reaches 80° or above, try to avoid the sun as much as you can by sticking to the shade. And plan to stay inside during the late afternoon when summertime temperatures tend to be at their hottest.
Always stay hydrated – Even if you’re not thirsty, it’s important to drink plenty of water. Quite often in the summer, feeling thirsty means you’re already experiencing dehydration. For people with diabetes, not enough water can cause higher blood sugars, which leads to an increased need to urinate, which in turn causes more dehydration. While we’re on the topic of fluids…
Avoid caffeine and alcoholic beverages – We want you to have fun, but we also want you to stay safe. That means avoiding too much coffee, beer, wine, or liquor when temperatures are high. Drinks with alcohol and caffeine, even sports drinks like Gatorade, can lead to water loss and spike your blood sugar levels. Water is always the healthiest option. If you want something more flavorful, try water with some fruit—squeeze a bit of lemon, lime, orange, or strawberry—for a refreshing and healthy treat.
Do not leave your insulin and other diabetes medicines in hot cars – Most insulin can withstand temperatures as hot as 95° F. But anything higher than that can cause your medication to break down. That’s why it’s so important to never leave your insulin, or other diabetes medicines in a hot car. Temperatures inside a car on a summer day can quickly exceed 125 ° F. If traveling by car on hot days, bring a cooler with you, to keep the temperature down. However, do not place insulin directly on ice or a cold gel pack.
Have a backup plan in case power goes out – Hurricane season begins June 1, quite often bringing severe, deadly storms. New Jersey has a history of getting hit hard by major storms, when power can be out for days or even weeks. To quote the Centers for Disease Control, “People with diabetes face extra challenges if a strong storm knocks out the power of they have to seek shelter away from home. Plan how you’ll handle medicine that needs refrigeration, such as insulin” Which leads us directly to:
Create a Diabetes Care Kit – If a major storm is predicted to hit our area of northern New Jersey, make sure you plan ahead in case the power goes out. Keep a Diabetes Care Kit in a waterproof bag or container in case you lose power or need to evacuate the region. According to the Centers for Disease Control, it should contain:
- Insulin and syringes for every injection
- Current dosages and times when you take the medicines
- Blood sugar glucose meter
- Extra batteries for your blood sugar meter and insulin pump
- Lancets and lancing devices
- Insulin pump supplies, including extra pump sets and insertion devices
- Glucagon kits
- Ketone strips
- Alcohol wipes
- Glucose tablets or 15 grams of quick carbs such as juice, honey, or hard candy
- Oral diabetes medicine
- The make, model, and serial number of your insulin pump or continuous glucose monitor
Protect your feet – Finally, people with diabetes need to take extra precautions for their feet in the summertime. Avoid walking on hot sand or pavement. Don’t go barefoot—even on the beach. Broken glass or seashells can pierce the skin of your feet and get infected. Make sure to inspect your feet every day and if you get any cuts or abrasions, quickly treat an injury as soon as possible to avoid infections.
Get in touch with CareWell
With specialized staff on-hand and unbeatable compassionate care, we’re your best source for diabetes management. Call us at 973-266-8416 to schedule a primary care or preventative appointment.