hiker in the mountains check her blood glucose level

Warm Weather Diabetes Tips

June 8, 2023

Whether you’re planning a day at the beach or an afternoon hike, diabetes shouldn’t hold you back from whatever it is you want to do. You just need to be prepared—especially as the weather warms up.

“When it gets very warm out, we tend to get a lot of phone calls about how to keep our patients safe in a variety of situations,” says Moriah Sirotkin, CPNP, of the Naomi Berrie Diabetes Center. “People want to know how to store insulin and how to tell if it spoils. You always have to plan in case something goes wrong.”

How warm weather affects diabetes

Planning begins with understanding some basics. Overall, warm weather shouldn't have much effect on glucose levels. However, sunburns can put stress on the body and lead to higher blood glucose (BG) values, Sirotkin explains.

What’s more, swimming is an activity that may cause low blood sugars, so make sure to have lots of low treatment on hand. Ideally, you want to avoid taking a large dose of insulin prior to any strenuous activity because it can lead to a rapid drop in blood sugar.

Warm weather care for pumps, insulin, and other supplies

If you’re looking forward to a warm weather activity, have a conversation with your endocrinologist or certified diabetes educator (CDE) on specific plans or supplies you may need. In addition, Sirotkin offers these tips:  

  • Keep your insulin cool. If you’re at the pool or a picnic, plan how to store insulin. Insulated beach bags or FRIO bags work well. Keep insulin out of direct sunlight. Insulin that overheats will be less effective.
  • Prepare to treat lows. Make sure the treatments you bring with you will not melt! For example, juice might be a better choice than Starbursts in warmer temperatures.
  • Check blood sugars often. If you notice your blood sugars are higher than normal, it is a safe idea to change out the insulin in your pump or change your Pod. Open a new bottle of insulin if you suspect the bottle overheated. (Officially, insulin should never measure more than 86 degrees Fahrenheit).
  • Do not leave your insulin in a hot car. The same rule applies to your test strips. Keep all supplies cool.
  • Swim smart. If you’re going swimming and wearing a pump, make sure it is waterproof. If it’s not, and if you disconnect, two hours is the limit! If you are going to be in the water for more than two hours, you may want to take a "pump holiday" and go back to using long-acting and rapid-acting insulin with multiple daily injections. This is something to check with your doctor or educator about. Make sure your blood glucose is at a safe level (>180) before going in the water.