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Are You An Insulin Dependent Prepper?



insulin syringe

Editors Note: I want to make sure that you realize that this entire article was written based on my passion for survival and my need to learn everything I can to protect my family. I have done a lot of research, but I am not a doctor and nothing I have written should not be taken as medical advice.  If storage of your insulin or other medication during a crisis is a concern to you (and it should be) you should speak with your family doctor about it.

One of the fastest growing concerns regarding prepping and survival is the skyrocketing number of Americans who are Insulin Dependent Diabetics.

Diabetes runs in my family and is a concern that is very near and dear to my heart.

Many times when people prepare for disasters they fail to ensure that they have enough medications, home medical supplies, and oxygen.

My family was lucky during Hurricane Rita, in that my grandfather had my grandfather had a little over a months worth of insulin, and they only went without help for roughly two weeks.


Others were not so lucky…

How do you make sure that you have enough insulin on hand?

Your family doctor may balk at prescribing two years of insulin in one fell swoop, but not a few extra bottles at a time as a backup.

The next time you see your doctor, request a few more.  All my grandfather has to do is remind his doctor of the hurricane and the fact that he is 38 miles from the nearest pharmacy and the doctor doesn’t bat an eyelash about writing him the prescription.

Be sure to ask your pharmacist for the insulin with the longest shelf life—one, two years preferably.


Just like with your food supplies you need to follow the FIFO (first in first out) method.

Keep alternating your stockpile, using up the ones with the earliest expiration date and replacing them with your newest bottles.

The stress, exercise changes, and diet changes in a disaster will play havoc on a your blood sugar, so in addition to all of your standard first aid supplies, be sure to store extra glucose monitors, batteries, and test strips with long expiration dates.  I recommend shelling out the extra cash for the long lasting lithium batteries, if they make them in the right size for your monitor.

After opened, the test strips should last up to three months in cool, dry storage.

Doing a bit of research, I have found a few items that can help extend the life of your insulin stores that I wanted to share with you.

When you need to be Mobile:

FRIO cooling cases offer a compact alternative to the refrigerator that is mobile and reusable.
These small, portable cooling packs keep insulin cool for several days once activated.

All you do is soak the pack in water for 5 to 10 minutes.

The crystals in the wallet panel expand into a gel, which stays cold as it evaporates.

When it dries all you need to do to reactivate the pack is submerge it in water again. They are fairly inexpensive, small, and work well for bug out bags:

FRIO wallets keep insulin cool for at least 45 hours in a warm environment of 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

This is five times as long as an ice pack–long enough for you to head out on a travel adventure.

The pack itself is dry to the touch, and easily stowed in a backpack or purse.

If you live in cold climates the FRIO wallet has the added benefit of being an insulator too.

When you are sheltering in place:

Another option, if you have access to a small power source, but not necessarily enough to power an entire fridge ( Like a portable solar charger) is something that I would have thought of as more of a novelty…
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These little can cooler/warmers, have been on the market for years and are usually given away as a gag gift at Christmas. But think abou it for a second….

If you were able to store your insulin at 20-30 degrees below the ambient temperature, how much longer would your supply last?

Now bear in mind that the way these work varies heavily on the ambient temperature and humidity, but they DO work. (provided of course that you have some sort of power supply.

There are many different varieties of these coolers, ranging in price, size, and even power supply. You can get them that run off of A/C power, D/C or even off of USB. The smaller ones only draw around 10 watts of power and even the smallest solar panel kits should be able to generate enough juice to help keep this fridge cool during the heat of the day.

Click here to see all the different options.

These are just a couple of modern alternative storage options for your insulin, there are dozens if not hundreds of more ways that you can keep your necessary medicines stable during even the worst of disasters.

If you have a differing opinion or other alternatives, please leave a comment and let me know!

Read more with these related articles on our site:

10 Prepper Supply Items You Can Buy at Costco

7 Helpful Tips from Seasoned Preppers

Why Are You a Prepper?

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  1. DR. Wilkins

    October 25, 2013 at 6:19 PM

    While you have put a lot of time and effort into this article there are quite a few issues that should be addressed about the acquisition, use and storage of insulin that is widely not available.
    Let me first Preface this with the fact that I am a 25 year T1 from the US with training in the Medical fields, Army Ranger and Avid Pilot / Survivalist.
    First of all, only Fast acting insulin is sold by prescription, so you can purchase additional slow action insulin over the counter at anytime without a prescription. This also means that you should learn to use slow acting insulin for the treatment of T1 along side your current treatment to insure survival. While you may have a pharmacist try to tell you different you need to stand your ground and have them sell you what you want. (some states may have local laws against it)
    The storage of insulin is the best kept secret in the world. Insulin is like fine wine. It should be kept at 45-60 degrees to have an optimal shelf life of over 5 years despite the expiration date posted on it. It also requires that it be stored out of the light and insulin should be turned or rolled in the bottle twice a year.
    The use of a fridge in the united states is not required a mere hole 43 inches in the ground will do for the US states to prevent it from freezing or getting to hot. Old wells work extremely well for storing this and other goods.
    Another point is that while no amount of prearing for a disaster you do, if the event lasts long enough you will ultimately run out so than what. My last suggestion is to stock pile oral medications that reduce BG’s Cyclocet, Zeita, and many other T2 medications. These can be used with great confidence to help hold your sugars at bay, while they may run higher without insulin, you will no doubt have to change you intake, and control emotions on a much tighter rule, but you will survive with some determination.
    Lastly you biggest concern with insulin will be Testing supplies.
    These items while easily stock piled are used in higher frequency and will require vigilant watch.
    I hope that this adds a little more insight to your good story and enables you to make better preps in the future.

    • MARKWW

      November 16, 2013 at 6:14 AM

      I am retired from the Fire Department. I have found Insulin on sale at walmart for $24.88 a bottle ITS NPH INSULIN comes in three brands. It last longer as to other Insulin’s 48 days , once opened. IT is over the counter. For those also you have to eat within 15 mins from injection,last that I looked I am pretty sure I am right. Syringes are also cheap From Sears Online at 12 dollars per 100. Also over at Walmart you can get 91 per cent alcohol in quart plastic containers.

      For keeping Insulin cold Portable ice boxes do not work when there is no power,and many that I have seem online are too expensive and many have ratings which are not that good. I purchased a !/2 gallon Coleman cooler jug triple insulated, and also a 72 package box of cold packs. You crush them and they get cold. I tested one stayed cold for a hour or so and then shook it and stayed cold again lasted about 20 hours and lost its cold but should keep stuff cold 20-24 hours per bag. Another way to keep cold is to get a felt bag put insulin in it maybe in a small zip lock wet the bag tie and put something on it to swing it in circles in the air the water evaporation makes the bag cold.


  2. DR. Wilkins

    October 25, 2013 at 6:21 PM

    Incorrrect Email originally posted sorry!

  3. dee

    October 26, 2013 at 3:20 AM

    Thanks for the info. As someone who has just recently been switched to insulin, this has been a concern whether camping or a trip along with prepping. More ideas mean better choices BEFORE anything happens.

  4. Dave

    October 26, 2013 at 9:09 AM

    If you are diabetic, and TSHTF, be prepared to become very ill … but over a long period of time.
    Many people over thousands of years have lived with diabetes, contrary to the drug/medical industries.

  5. rev robert de la mare

    October 27, 2013 at 2:14 PM

    You are doing something I have all whys had thouts about god bles you brothwr .

  6. Oneway

    October 28, 2013 at 11:00 AM

    My wife has no thyroid and takes thyroid meds what does she do to survive without a prescription?

    • texastwin827

      November 8, 2013 at 6:01 PM

      Oneway, unfortunately, you can not live without a thyroid. While all the females in my family are hypothyroid (underactive)my youngest had hers removed when she was 17, so I’m fairly well versed on that issue, because of her.

      When she was 19, she had been forgetting to take her meds and her TSH shot up to 49. Her doctor talked to her & confirmed to her, that she would slip into a coma & die, within about 2 mos of having no meds. Needless to say, she would go without food before she forgets to take her thyroid meds!

      As for how to stockpile thyroid meds, if your wife takes a synthetic T4 (Unithroid, Synthroid, etc) you might try ordering from Mexico or perhaps even Canada (they are stricter about having a prescription). Everyone in my family takes Armour which was the first thyroid med invented and it too can be obtained but is harder to find.

      Keep in mind, that while prescription meds have an expiration date MOST can still be taken, after that date. They lose potency after the expiration date BUT they will keep you alive! In a dire situation, your wife might need to reduce what she takes, from her normal dosage, to make her meds last longer.

      Sorry to give you such downer info 🙁

  7. bamamedic

    October 30, 2013 at 4:06 PM

    Fyi rapid acting insulin may be kept at room temp for 28 days without effecting potency

  8. Ruth

    October 30, 2013 at 6:01 PM

    I have had t1 for 61 yrs. Found FRIO 3 yrs ago…love it!
    Before that, get an UNGLAZED clay bean pot. Put extra insulin into zip locked baggie. Fill bean pot with water. Will stay cool enough to keep insulin viable as long as there is water in the pot.

    Before we had glucometers we used urinalysis tests. They were a test tube analysis you could do at home or a paper strip from a dispenser that worked with sugar concentrations the way that litmus paper tests for saline or alkaline content. It may sound like something you wouldn’t want to do, but if you taste your own urine you can taste the sweetness if your sugar has been high, Keep in mind that that sugar WAS high sometime between now and the last time you urinated. All of these things are good to know in an emergency that lasts longer than your supplies.

  9. KSV

    December 30, 2013 at 10:37 AM

    Even insulin-dependent type 2 diabetics can be brought off of medication IF your choices of stored and consumed food are appropriate and you engage in physical activity. (Type 1s can’t come off but they often can reduce dosage with diet and exercise.) It probably does require coming off of wheat, most rice, pasta and sugar so you need to make better foods available. Most type 2 diabetics do better on a low carb/higher good fat diet like Paleo, South Beach, Atkins or Bulletproof. All are better than the ADA diet which doesn’t look at food quality and as too many carbs.

    For instance I have stored cans of New Zealand butter, gallons of coconut and MCT oil, tins of California olive oil (less likely to be adulterated) and keep the less stable seed oils for non-consumption. I store seaweed (sea vegetables) which is high in iodine and trace minerals used in sugar metabolism. The forms I use are dried seaweed from the clean Maine Seaweeds for soup and munching and nori sheets which can double for wraps for sandwiches. Chickens are a good source of protein with both eggs and meat, as are rabbits, game and canned meat. I also keep kale chips, dehydrated vegetables, powdered spirulina, dried nettles, coffee, cinnamon (keeps better in stick form vacuum packed and I like the thick sticks I find in Chinatown.) Soups may be a better choice than casseroles. I also keep a variety of supplements useful for controlling blood sugar (and thyroid). At the very least they will help transition during weight loss and achieving better blood sugar stability.

    Inherent in transitioning off of medications is the ability to monitor blood sugar so that you are not out of control which is dangerous. The new GE100 monitor goes for $12.95 and strips are $.13 apiece from Amazon compared to $.75-$1.00 for other brands, so you can afford to stock up. The cost is actually less than an insurance copay and the unit does not require calibration. Get an extra meter or two. Keep in a cold dark place and rotate FIFO. Lancets can be reused a few times if kept clean (one individual only.) There are also instant A1c tests but they have a limited shelf life and you need a physician to order them, since they sell in groups of 10.

    I have purchased Metformin, as well as Armor, Natural Thyroid, oxybutinin and a variety of other meds from overseas. I use sellers interested in life extension on the theory they will have more reliable medications than the bargain-only groups. Keep on hand goods for likely complications of diabetes- incontinence, slow healing, low circulation.

    One other concern since this is significantly a lifestyle disease. If the family is relying on starchy survival foods and is not highly active, other family members may be at risk for diabetes.

  10. Jason Raines

    January 6, 2017 at 4:46 AM

    It has now been found that injectable solutions of insulin can be frozen under certain conditions and maintained in the frozen state for prolonged periods of storage without deterioration, thawed for injection without alteration of physical, chemical or pharmaceutical properties, with maintenance of the efficacy of the time at which it was first frozen. The thawed solution can be injected at once, or can be kept for the period it would have been considered good at the time it was first frozen, i.e., the normal expiration period resumes at the point at which it was suspended. the drug insulin can be stored for an indefinite period of time without any loss of its physical, chemical or pharmaceutical characteristics. The drug solution is instantly frozen as, for example, in liquid nitrogen,
    Current practice and regulation prohibits freezing insulin because of physical and chemical deterioration, and the consequent loss of physiological activity, which occur during the freezing process. Such prohibitions have heretofore been wise and necessary and remain so if proper freezing technique is not employed since deteriorated insulin will not effectively arrest the diabetic condition, resulting in a coma or death. It has been found, however, that if the freezing process is sufficiently rapid, the deterioration which occurs under normal freezing processes does not occur, and the insulin retains its full potency and efficacy. In order to attain sufficient rapidity, the insulin, preferably in injectable form, i.e., a conventional injectable solution, and preferably packaged for sale, is subjected to extreme low temperatures until frozen. A convenient and relatively inexpensive technique is to immerse the solution in appropriate containers into a bath of liquid nitrogen, at a maximum temperature of about 320.4 F., until frozen, i.e., for at least about 3 to 3.5 seconds per cc. While a liquid nitrogen bath is a convenient and relatively inexpensive manner of attaining sufficient rapidity in the freezing process, any other mode of operation which will result in a comparably rapid freeze can be utilized.

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