Keeping insulin cool in the summer heat

by Dr. Kate Marsh on January 24, 2019

It’s something many people overlook but as the weather warms up, it’s time to give some extra thought to keeping your insulin cool.

Insulin can be affected by both temperature and sunlight.  If it gets too hot or is frozen, the insulin can break down and won’t work as well to lower your blood glucose levels.  Sunlight can have similar effects. This means it’s important to consider how you store your insulin in the warmer months.

Insulin that isn’t being used should be stored in the refrigerator.  It can’t be frozen so keep it in the warmest part of the fridge, such as the door, but avoid the chiller section.

The cartridge or vial that you are using can be safely kept out of the fridge for 28 days as long as it is kept at room temperature (between 15 and 25°C).

Here are some tips for keeping your insulin at the right temperature, both at home and when out and about.

At home

We’ve said you can keep your current insulin pen or vial out of the fridge and at room temperature. But have you thought about how hot some rooms in your house can get in summer?  It’s something that’s easy to overlook, especially if you are out during the hottest part of the day.  If the temperature exceeds 25°C then consider whether you could keep your insulin somewhere cooler or whether you need to store it in the fridge or a cooler bag on hot days. 

Out and about

If most of your day is spent in air conditioning (whether it’s the car, public transport, shopping centre or workplace), with only short periods of time outside in the heat, then your insulin should be fine if you keep it with you.  But remember never to leave it in your car.  The temperature inside a parked car during summer can be 20-30°C hotter than outside, and this could easily damage your insulin.  If you’ll be outside in the heat for most of the day, invest in a cooler bag/wallet to store your insulin. There are several compact and lightweight varieties available in different sizes and colours. If you wear a pump you can also get special pouches to protect the insulin in your pump from the heat.

At the beach or pool

If you are planning a day at the beach or by the pool, it’s important to give some thought to keeping your insulin cool.  As discussed above, a special medical cooler bag or wallet is an easy way to protect your insulin from the heat. Some work by evaporative cooling and others have a freezable gel pack. If you prefer a DIY option, you can use a freezer brick or ice pack inside an esky or insulated bag, but wrap your insulin in a towel first and avoid placing it directly on the ice, to avoid freezing.

While heat and insulin don’t mix, with some forward planning there are plenty of options for keeping your insulin safe, even on those hot summer days. 

 

Remember to always seek advice from your medical practitioner before changing anything about your diabetes management. The above information is NOT medical advice.

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