The Barbados Drug Service has issued the following notice on the correct storage and use of insulin in the event of power outages:
All insulin-controlled diabetics are advised to keep their insulin away from direct heat and sunlight, which makes it less effective.
For up to four weeks, you can use insulin in opened or unopened vials that have been stored at room temperatures of between 15°C and 28°C.
Although manufacturers recommend storing your insulin in the refrigerator, injecting cold insulin can sometimes make the injection more painful.
To counter that, many providers recommend storing the bottle of insulin you are currently using at room temperature. It is believed that insulin kept at room temperature will last for four weeks.
Unopened insulin stored under refrigeration and without freezing will maintain stability to the expiration date stated on the packaging. Should insulin freeze, however, it should be discarded.
If refrigeration is not available, and you have access to ice or frozen cold packs and a small ice chest handy if the power goes out, the insulin can be kept cold by placing it in the ice chest along with the ice or frozen cold packs for as long as possible.
These storage conditions are in keeping with the manufacturers’ guidelines where it is suggested that the loss of biological potency of insulin is so slow when not refrigerated.
If one carefully protects insulin supplies from extreme temperatures, any loss of potency should have minimal, if any, effect on the control of diabetes.
Always remember that the opened or unopened insulin bottle can be stored at room temperatures of between 15°C and 28°C for up to 4 weeks.
The Ministry of Health and Wellness therefore advises insulin-controlled diabetics to act responsibly. Should these storage conditions be adhered to, good diabetes control will result.