Skip to Accessibility Tools Skip to Content Skip to Footer
needle in an iceberg that is thawing

How to Keep Crohn’s Disease Meds Cold in an Emergency

There are quite a few types of medications used to treat Crohn’s disease. These medications range from pill-form to IV-infused to self-injectable doses that you can do at home. My first treatment was performed in an IV center. When that biologic failed, I was moved to a self-injectable biologic that needed to remain refrigerated until injection time. Around the time the approval letter for the treatment arrived, my house lost power in a bad storm. The estimated time to have our power restored was around four hours. This left me worried about how to keep Crohn’s disease meds cold in an emergency.

My worry intensified over two factors. First, the refrigerator that came with our house was on the older side but worked. However, there were some things that were making me doubt it was maintaining proper temps at all times. Second, approval for the med came during what was an already active hurricane season. To top it off, a tropical disturbance was brewing.

I hadn’t yet created a hurricane readiness kit for our household. A few years without major storms made me a little laxer. One of the things you’re supposed to do is have at least a 10-day supply of your meds in case there’s no power, you’re evacuated, cannot get to a pharmacy, etc.

But at the time, there wasn’t any information available on how long the syringe could be out of the refrigerator and remain safe to inject. I called my local pharmacy. The pharmacist tried to look up the information but instructed me to call the specialty pharmacy’s pharmacist on duty. So, I went and tried that.

Most shocking was the fact that no one could direct what to do with this med if the power went out. This was by no means the first medication that needed to remain cold. But the specialty pharmacist did give me a cool tip. See Tip 2, below.

I did what I do best. I researched and made a plan. So, here are my tips if you’re worried about how to keep Crohn’s disease meds cold in an emergency.

Tips to keep medications cold in an emergency

Tip 1: Purchase a portable refrigeration thermometer.

There are manual and digital ones. I purchased a manual set similar to what is used at my doctor’s office. Along with degrees, there are graphics for refrigerator and freezing and warm. There are even more high-tech options. But for those of us on a budget, the little, cheap metal refrigerator thermometer will do just fine.

It’s important to know that your refrigerator is working optimally before an emergency hits.

Tip 2: Use a cup of frozen water to assess the freezer

Take a cup (I prefer clear ones for this) and fill it halfway with water. Then, place it in the freezer. Check on it in an hour or two. Make sure the water has frozen solid inside of the cup. Once you’ve confirmed the water has turned to ice, stick an object on top of the ice in your cup. The pharmacist’s example used a penny, but any small object will do.

Whenever you open the freezer, your penny should be resting atop its ice cube throne. However, if the object is now sleeping at the bottom of the cup, the freezer has at one point experienced a complete thaw. It is safe to assume everything had thawed at one point. This also may mean your refrigerator is having issues maintaining temperature.

Tip 3: Talk with the pharmacy about an emergency plan

Discuss with your specialty pharmacy if they have an emergency plan regarding medications affected due to blackout, natural disasters, and evacuations. Some specialty pharmacies have a partnership with brick and mortar pharmacies. These pharmacies have backup generators. This way, if a tropical system has the potential to hit, you can have your medication delivered and remain protected there until you pick it up.

Your doctor’s office may allow delivery. Remember to ask if they have a power backup for their fridge.

Tip 4: Keep things cold with dry ice

Dry ice can help keep the contents of your fridge and freezer cool when the power goes. Our local grocery stores have sold dry ice going on a couple of years now. If yours does not have a dry ice freezer, talk to the store manager. They may be able to direct you to a dry ice pick up site or let you know if one of the chain’s other stores has dry ice. There will be specific directions on how to handle dry ice. Please use with caution!

Tip 5: Use your medication helpline

While this tip won’t keep your meds cold in case of an emergency. It will help you know what to do should the worst-case scenario occur. Establish contact or a relationship with the helpline associated with your medication. If you are utilizing the patient assistance program, you may be in their system. Ask if they have an emergency program should medication become ruined due to power failure.

Do you have tips on how to safely keep Crohn’s disease meds cold in an emergency?

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The InflammatoryBowelDisease.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

  • thedancingcrohnie moderator
    2 months ago

    These are great tips. I never really thought about what I would do with my injections if there was a hurricane or power outage. Great things to think about.

    Always dancing,
    Elizabeth (team member)

  • Lolo
    2 months ago

    I always keep a few ice packs in my freezer and a soft-side cooler handy in case of power outage emergencies. The ice packs are the ones that come along with my med delivery. I also use these items when traveling with my injectable meds that need to be kept cold.

  • Jaime H moderator author
    2 months ago

    @lolo Yaasssss! During our last hurricane scare my friend and I made an ice pack plan and a backup plan in case a prolonged power outage. We had a gracious neighbor of my in-laws offer to house our Meds in his fridge as he has a super powerful generator.

    – Jaime (team member)

  • Poll