Emergency Information

When your child has diabetes, emergency information is part of the back-to-school checklist.

Karen Hargrave discusses diabetes at schoolBy Karen Hargrave-Nykaza

Editor's Note: While this columnist is no longer writing for dLife.com and we have ceased to update the information contained herein, there is much to be read here that is still applicable to the lives of people with diabetes. If you wish to act on anything you learn here, be sure to consult your doctor first. Please enjoy the column!

September 2009 — It is hard to believe that it is almost back to school time again. For those of us who have children with diabetes, this doesn't just mean buying expensive calculators, notebooks, and backpacks. There are dozens of things we need to have in place to keep our diabetic children safe in the school setting, and they all fall to us to do, not the school. When I finally figured out that no one from the school was going to create a list of what I needed to do, several years ago I came up with my own list, including emergency information.  This month, I want to share that checklist with you in hopes that it might help you prepare for your child's new school year.

Every year prior to school starting, I create a folder for each teacher to have with diabetes emergency information for Joel. At first, I expected that teachers might want nothing to do with this, saying that they are not medical personnel. This is what I had been told by Joel's elementary school nurse. But I found quite the opposite to be true. They want to information so they know what to do in an emergency. Here is a list of what I include:

On the front of the folder:


  • A current photo of Joel and a statement beneath it identifying him as a child with type 1 diabetes, a life-threatening medical condition. The recent increase in public awareness of type 2 diabetes has caused a growing belief that all diabetes is easily manageable by taking pills or insulin. Many people do not know there are two types of diabetes and/or are unaware of the difference between the two types.  As a result, many people are unaware that type 1 diabetes can be imminently life-threatening.
  • A statement asking each person who has contact with Joel to please read the info contained in the folder, even if they feel they couldn't be the one to treat him.
  • Our phone numbers.

Taped to the inside of the folder:

  • A package of frosting gel with directions of how to use it in an emergency (and what qualifies as an emergency) and a statement that even if they feel they cannot be the one to administer the frosting to please keep it in their classroom in case of a lockdown.
  • All of my and my husband's phone numbers, emergency phone numbers for Joel's doctor(s) and pediatrician, and my mother's phone numbers.

The following documents are each on separate sheets of paper:

  • Diabetes Basics - The basics of diabetes boiled down into real language
  • Diabetes Terms - A glossary of basic terms used in describing diabetes and diabetes management.
  • On the Bus - Specific instructions for the bus driver, including information on where there is frosting gel in his backpack and what to do in an emergency, and what qualifies as an emergency
  • What to do for High Blood Sugars
  • What to do for Low Blood Sugars
  • What to do in an Emergency
  • Signs that Joel Needs Medical Attention
  • Physical Activity - Instructions on what special precautions need to be taken prior, during, and after physical activity.

Who gets a copy of the folders:

  • All teachers, including special area teachers (music, art, phys. ed. etc.)
  • Bus driver
  • Sports coaches
  • Religious Education Teacher
  • Main Office
  • Substitute Teachers (I ask each of the teachers to put a note in their sub folder to review it)
  • Guidance Office

These folders take some time to create, but they are a great resource for your child's caregivers at school.

Read more of Karen Hargrave's columns here.

dLife's Viewpoints columnists are not all medical experts, but everyday people living with diabetes and sharing their personal experiences, most often at a set point in time. While their method of diabetes management may work for them, everyone is different. Please consult with your diabetes care team before acting on anything you read here to find out what will work best for you.

Last Modified Date: May 30, 2013

All content on dLife.com is created and reviewed in compliance with our editorial policy.

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