Hearts and Houseshoes

What a Type 1 Diabetic Needs to Survive

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There are certain things a type 1 diabetic needs in order to survive.

These are things you always need to have on hand.

That’s what we’re going to cover in this post.

We will talk about what a type 1 diabetic needs and explain why it’s important to have each one.

Now, if you’re a parent of a diabetic child, like me, then you worry about everything.

You want to make sure they always have the things they need available.

And maybe you’re still trying to learn what you need or afraid you may miss something.

Then go over this list.

Make sure you have every item listed here with you at all times.

That means at home or on the go.

Whether you plan to leave for just 5 minutes or a couple of hours.

Because the truth is, you never know when something may happen.

And you always want to be prepared.

Here is a look inside my daughter’s diabetic bag.

diabetic bag

Test Supplies

First off, we have test supplies.

I know this one may be an obvious thing, but it’s very important that you make sure to keep this with you at all times.

Test supplies include things like test strips, lancets, and a meter.

A type 1 diabetic needs to make sure they always have a way to check their blood.

And keep plenty of extra test strips on hand.

Somedays we don’t need very many, but on occasion, we go through a bunch in just one day.

We always throw some alcohol wipes in there too.

Making sure you have clean fingers will give you a more accurate reading.  

My daughter doesn’t use them at home as much as she should, but they are great for on the go.

Cheaper Test Strips

Now, let me add this.

If you happen to run out of test strips, can’t get your prescription, and can’t afford the brand you normally get, there are cheaper options.

You can pick one up from Wal-Mart.

I have been so thankful for them sometimes.

They have a brand called ReliOn that’s really good.

Here is a link on Amazon for the exact same product.

It’s cheaper at Wal-Mart, but you can see what it looks like.

ReliOn Glucose Monitoring System

We try to keep extra ones of these on hand because it’s a cheap back-up when something goes wrong.

The test strips they have her on are outrageous and we cannot afford to buy them over the counter if there is an issue.

Test Kits

In case you don’t need them immediately but want a cheap back-up on hand, you can check these out. They are some pretty good deals.

Here is On Call Express Kit – Under $15. Includes meter, 10 test strips, lancing device, lancets, and a carrying case.

Sidekick All-in-one Kit – Under $25. This kit is a little bit more but it does include 50 test strips. It also has a lancing device, lancets, and a GoPak.

Oh’Care Lite Diabetic Kit – Under $30. This one is also a little more. But, it does include over 100 test strips. This kit also has a lancing device, over 100 lancets, a log, and a case.

Don’t forget about the Genteel Lancing Device either.

Like I have said before, it’s pretty expensive, but it really was a life saver for us.

I couldn’t get my daughter to check her blood very often until I purchased one of these.

You can read more about it in Our Genteel Review.

And here is a link if you want to check out the Genteel Lancing Device.

This is what it looks like.

Genteel lancing device


Another obvious thing is going to be insulin.

Insulin is life support, a type 1 diabetic needs it to stay alive.

When leaving the house, make sure you have your insulin with you.

This includes all the supplies that go along with it.

My daughter is lucky enough to have a pump now, so she always has her insulin on her.

But you never know when you may end up high or want to eat and need a dose of it.

We always packed it in her bag before she had her pump, and checked supplies before we left the house.

And if we are going away for the weekend or even overnight, she still carries extra insulin.

We also carry pump supplies and usually take regular needles too.

It’s a great idea to keep plenty of insulin at home.

We keep our extra supply in the butter slot.

I think that’s where all diabetics keep it actually.

Remember that insulin must be stored in the refrigerator.

They have to be kept cold until ready to be used.

Even then, it should never be in direct sunlight.

It still needs to be as cool as possible, the heat will cause it to go bad.

My daughter uses a cute lunch bag to keep her supplies in, because of the insulation.

Right now she has a bright pink one with black polka dots.

polka dot bag

It’s a great way to carry everything and it helps keep things from getting too hot in the summertime months.

You can get check out some of those here and below if you like.

Buringer Insulated Tote Bag – This is a collapsible bag with a front pocket and zipper closure. It’s available in many different designs.

ZIPIT Lunch Box – Insulated lunch box that’s sturdy, light, and machine washable. It also includes a lifetime warranty.

Emergency Kit

This next one is way too often overlooked, even though it shouldn’t be.

It could very well be something a type 1 diabetic needs.

But, I know a lot of diabetics don’t carry one of these with them at all times.

And I think it’s very important to always have one on hand, or two!

I know that they are very expensive and only good for a year.

But, you can’t put a price on saving your life.

And this could possibly do just that.

Now, most people will find they never have to use one.

But, there is always that – what if?

What if you didn’t have one when you needed it?

That’s a what if you don’t want to chance.

Now, an emergency kit is glucose that’s in a shot form.

It needs to be injected into your body should you become extremely low.

type 1 diabetic emergency kit

I make sure we always have a couple of these on hand.

She has one in her supply bag and I also keep one in my purse.

I have actually had to use one of these on her before.

It was a very scary situation.

But, I am grateful that we had it.

And that’s why I stress so much that you need to keep one on hand.

Know How to Use it

Another thing I like to make sure of is that everyone knows how to use it.

We taught grandma, dad, her aunts, I even had to show her nurse at school how to use it.

That’s a whole different story.

If you want to read more about it check out Why We Homeschool.

But, anyway, I wanted to make sure that anyone who may need to use it knew how to.

It’s a very scary situation, knowing what you’re doing ahead of time will help out!

Why Not 911

Here’s another little thing to keep in mind.

I have been told that paramedics won’t have this on hand.

If you should call 911, they won’t know how nor be able to treat an extreme low.

All they will do is take them to a hospital.

And that is not what necessarily needs to be done in this type of emergency.

They need sugar, and they need it FAST!

So, you’re the one that’s going to know what needs to be done in order to save their life, not 911.

Become Sick

Now, in case you ever need to use a glucagon emergency kit, you should also know that it can make them sick.

They could possibly vomit and become sick to their stomach for a while afterward.

This actually happened to my daughter after we used one.

It was later on that day that she became sick, but everyone is different.

Just keep in mind that it’s natural and something to look out for.

Takes Time

They also do not work immediately!

I know that you would think it does, it’s an emergency kit after all.

But it may actually take up to 15 minutes for it to take effect after using it.

Now, believe me, I know that’s an eternity in this situation.

Minutes are like hours.

Just know that it will eventually do the job.

And it’s good to know these things ahead of time.

Your mind is racing around a hundred miles a minute in this situation.

Already knowing as much as you can will really help you out.

Fast-acting Sugar

The next thing a type 1 diabetic needs is sugar.

You should always have this on hand.

Make sure it’s what’s called a fast-acting sugar though.

Some sugar will affect you instantly, while others can take some time to raise your blood sugar.

A low can happen at any time for any reason.

And for a normal low, they will need around 15 carbs of sugar.

And if their blood sugar is below 50, they will need 30 carbs of fast-acting sugar.

No Chocolate

A fast-acting sugar can be found in candy such as fruit roll-ups.

That’s what my daughter likes to use.

Plus, each one has 12 carbs, which is pretty close to the 15.

We have found they are close enough and do the job quite well, depending on how low she is.

There are many things that can be used though.

Just about any sugary candy is fine, as long as it’s not chocolate.

Chocolate doesn’t affect your blood sugar the same way.

It does not work immediately.

Glucose Tablets

Another thing to use is glucose tablets.

Some of these don’t taste as good as candy, of course, so a child may not like them as well.

My daughter has used them.

She just likes certain flavors better.

Plus, glucose tablets are not very expensive.

You can pick some up a small bottle for a couple of dollars.

ReliOn Tablets– This is a bottle of 10 tablets for under $1.

ReliOn Glucose Tablets – These are a grape flavor. It includes a bottle of 50 as well as a to-go bottle of 10.

YumVs Glucose Gummies – If you would rather have a gummy that a tablet. Here is a bottle of 60.

Dex 4 Glucose Tablets – This is a 5- count bottle of raspberry flavored tablets


Coca-Cola is another thing that we always try to keep on hand.

When a type 1 diabetic needs sugar, this will definitely do the trick.

For some reason, Coke will raise blood sugar quicker than any other soda product.

It’s good to have things they can drink in case you can’t get them to eat anything.

Some other options here would be juice or any packaged kool-aid products.

These all will work pretty well.

A lot of people like to use orange juice too.

It works quickly and also gives you some Vitamin C.


Something else to keep on hand is a tube of cake icing.

I’m talking about the gel kind that you use to decorate with.


When blood sugar becomes really low, your mind does not work properly.

They may not easily take something on their own to treat the low.

And they could possibly even fight against you when you’re trying to give them something.

This is a natural thing, they don’t know what they are doing.

That’s where the icing comes in.

You will need to squirt it into their mouth along the gumline.

This way it absorbs quickly.

So, even if they spit it out, they will still get some of it in their system.

Plus, it’s something you can give that you don’t need to worry about them choking on.

This is also something that I have had to use in the past.

And I always keep a tube of this in my purse as well.

Remember to make sure that you have a way to open it though.

I’m not sure if it goes bad after being opened, but having an open tube could be a really great idea.

Long-acting Sugar

The final thing a type 1 diabetic needs to keep on hand is a long-acting carb.

This can be anything from chocolate to milk.

After having a low and making sure their sugar is back up, they should have 15 grams of a long-lasting carb.

This just gives them an extra boost to hopefully keep them from getting low again.

Now, like I said anything chocolate will work fine here.

But, you can use any type of carb that does not affect your sugar immediately.

We use things like granola bars and chocolate pudding.

The only drinkable carb that works here is chocolate milk.

While regular milk is long-acting, the chocolate gives it more carbs and helps maintain the higher blood sugar.

We use chocolate milk a lot for those nighttime lows.

Get Your Diabetic Bag Together

I hope this helped give you some ideas of things you should always have with you.

Most of them may be obvious.

But, sometimes the most obvious things are the ones that we forget.

This can be especially true when you’re new to the life of caring for or being a diabetic.

It’s very overwhelming and there is a whole new life to learn.

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