Best practices for organizing diabetes supplies

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Kerri Sparling

Diabetes supplies. They're important, they're expensive and, sometimes, they're everywhere. From lancets running loose in a bathroom cabinet to insulin threatening to overheat, keeping supplies organized and orderly is an important part of managing your diabetes.

Looking for a little help in making sense of it all? We've got you covered! Here's an overview of best practices for keeping diabetes supplies safe and tidy without taking up too much space in your house — or your head.

Prioritize proper insulin storage

First things first, it's important to make sure your insulin is stored in a safe, cool place. The life-sustaining hormone is a required medication when it comes to managing Type 1 diabetes (T1D), and it needs to be handled properly. According to manufacturers, stored insulin should be kept between 36 F and 46 F and should never be allowed to freeze. If your insulin freezes, it will likely spoil and not work predictably, so do not use it!

The vial of insulin (or injection pen) that you are currently using can be kept up to 28 days between a temperature of 56 F and 80 F. Some people like to assign a specific drawer or spot in their fridge for insulin storage so that others know not to touch their supplies. For many with diabetes, the butter compartment is actually used for insulin storage. Meanwhile, others may opt to purchase a special fridge just for their medication.

Keeping insulin cool while on the go can be a challenge, but there are a lot of travel storage options that may work. You can use a cooling pouch for your insulin pen and FRIO insulin wallets (which don't require ice or refrigeration) for your vials, making travel less of a consideration.

Dedicate a space for all your devices and supplies

Whether you're using an insulin pump, a continuous glucose monitor (CGM), a smart pen, daily finger pricks, or multiple daily injections, the management of diabetes requires a lot of stuff. Just like with insulin, wrangling diabetes supplies is easier when you have one spot where you stash all of your equipment!

Many people with diabetes use a cabinet in their bathroom, or a shelf in their bedroom closet, as the go-to spot for all of their supplies. Wherever you choose to store your supplies, make sure it's out of reach of children. It's a good idea to keep everything organized by expiration date, with items expiring sooner in the front.

It's also wise to store any supplemental supplies — like device overlay tape and alcohol swabs — in the same area as other supplies. This way, when you need to do an insulin pump site change or grab a refill of your glucose meter test strips, everything related to diabetes is in one spot. As an added benefit, this makes it easier to identify when certain supplies are running low.

Track supplies (and medical appointments)

Remembering to reorder supplies at the right time can be challenging, but there are ways to keep track of what needs to be reordered, and when. Taking advantage of the automatic refill options provided by your local (or mail-order) pharmacy is a great way to stay on top of reorders without having to invest extra time.

Also, setting a reminder on your phone or calendar — including the medication refill number and the pharmacy phone number — can help streamline the process. For some families living with diabetes, supply reorders can be a fun event that's enjoyable even for those without diabetes, especially if they are eager to help their loved one manage their condition.

When it comes to keeping track of medical appointments, calendar apps on your smartphone and an old-fashioned paper calendar are a good start. Also, remember to make follow-up appointments while you're signing out of your current appointment; it helps take one more thing off your to-do list!

Make supply storage as fun as possible

Even though supplies are part of diabetes management, keeping them organized can be an opportunity to show your personality.

Do you like fancy handbags? Consider purchasing a specialty diabetes bag, such as the ones sold by Myabetic or Sugar Medical, to store your diabetes supplies in style.

Do you travel often? Companies like Wherever EuGo have created bags that organize and hold your diabetes supplies without sacrificing style. There are also ways to decorate and personalize your devices, making the medical less mundane.

A quick internet search can bring up some stylish ways to make diabetes management a little more creative. Feel free to have some fun with this aspect of diabetes and enjoy exhibiting a little flair!

Hoping to read up on other best practices for storing diabetes supplies and managing the condition? Explore the library of educational articles featured on HealthInsights by Edgepark.

Kerri Sparling

Kerri Sparling is an accomplished writer and speaker who has been living with type 1 diabetes since the age of seven. She has given keynotes around the globe about life with diabetes, the influence of peer connections on health outcomes, and the power of sharing health narratives. Her work can be found at KerriSparling.com.

Diabetes Management Tip