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I am a Type 1 diabetic and aspire to move to the arctic wilderness of Alaska.

I can figure out how to maintain enough emergency carb food for survival.

The one thing I'm not sure how I will handle is how to keep 3 months of medicine(insulin) at a temperature between 36 and 46 degrees Fahrenheit (2 - 8 Celsius) for up to 3 months. This is the temperature most refrigerators maintain easily, but power will likely not be too reliable out there.

That's the issue with storing my medicine which I will eventually use.

For the insulin I will use daily, I need it to be above freezing at all times(doesn't have to be within 10 degrees as the stored insulin does). I figure there must be some kind of 'heat pouch' but I don't know of any product that could keep something warm for extended periods of time, without batteries/power in sub-zero temperaturs.

I hope to find a cabin with a solar system built in, but if I do not, or the system fails, what are some temperature regulation methods that can be used in extreme low temps as there is in remote areas around the arctic circle?

  • That is a tough one. You need to consider the risk of this adventure. Your body with a thermos but I don't think you could hold that range. – paparazzo Oct 20 '17 at 14:43
  • could you keep your daily dose just close to your body below the clothing? doesn't help with long term storage, though – knitti Oct 20 '17 at 15:07
  • Between storage temperatures and 25C you will have to treat all your stored insulin as in use, so discarded after 28 days. Studies of primitive methods end on these in use temperatures and time. In your case just any 'no electricity" temperature regulation method isnt enough for 3 months and its more common to find cooling solutions rather than warming ones. Travel pouches are for a day or less – Erik vanDoren Oct 20 '17 at 16:17
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    Depending on manufacturer you might read something a tad more than 28 days now but thats a conversation that you will have to have with your doctor – Erik vanDoren Oct 20 '17 at 16:17
  • How long at time will the supply of medicines be in camp without direct human supervision? Will you be staying in camp 24/7 or will there be periods of more then 12 hours where you will be gone? Like a 3 day round trip into civilization for supplies. – James Jenkins Oct 21 '17 at 10:28
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For type 2 diabetics some of the new inhaled insulin products like Afrezza seem to be more forgiving of temperature fluctuations. These appear to only be the fast acting insulin's so not a big help for the type 1 who also needs long acting insulin.

There are no products that I am aware designed specifically to keep something just above freezing without going over 70 (or lower degrees).

I travel with a type 1 diabetic, and I have spent several years living off grid, I am not a Doctor, and the following are just suggestions, you will want to run any potential solution past your medical provider.

Your first point is keeping a 90 day supply at refrigerator temp. As we know a 90 day supply through many insurance programs is cheaper. A 30 day supply or 28 day according to this source can stay at room temperature. So changing your refill quantity could make things easier, allowing for a larger range of temperatures.

If you are totally off grid but able to maintain a room above freezing products like the frio can really help with temperature stabilization. We own several of them in different sizes, and they have really helped us be more mobile.

Keeping dependable refrigerator temps off grid, is really hard. There are 12 volt and propane refrigerators, but in my experience, the temperature control is not fine enough to risk insulin in. A couple of ice particles in your beverage is fine, but in your insulin, could mean your death. If your going to use a refrigerator to cool insulin in a warm room, I strongly suggest only using a 110 volt unit (not a dual or three way model, a 110 only household model). Which means a very expensive off grid power supply, that provides juice 24/7.

Keeping a room warm is not difficult, if you are there. But the most cost effective solutions are wood and Kerosene, for the very budget aware solutions these are going to need attention every 8 to 12 hours at the outside. If you are gone for 24 hours, during an arctic winter day/night the risk of indoor freezing temps is very high.

If you need to keep heat going while you are gone for say a 72 hour round trip into town to pick up meds and supplies, and you are totally off grid, a propane heating system is probably the most cost effective solution. Our newer camp trailer has a thermostat controlled propane heater, that uses a 12 volt power supply. How much battery and propane you need depends on the size area you are heating and how much insulation you have. My off grid time was in Washington state, and I found a 100 pound (25 gallon) propane tank was large enough to last several days, even with the heaviest usage, and small enough that I could move it reasonably well.

In summary; If I was going off grid, arctic winter, with type 1 diabetic supplies. I would get insulin refills every 30 days, use a frio to keep the temperature stable (also helps keep the chill off for short periods). I would use a thermostatic controlled propane heater with a 12 volt fan. I would have at least two 25 gallon propane tanks, and head into town for more propane no later then the day I connected the last tank (sooner is ok, but make sure you have a full tank connected the day you leave). There are a lot of variables on 12 volt usage, so you will need to figure out how many deep cycle batteries you will need to keep the house going for 3 days. Keep in mind, a snow covered solar panel on a cloudy day is not going to provide any energy.

Additional Comment Currently we travel with a camp trailer, that has a 110 and propane power options. We never put insulin it! We do use it to freeze, freezer packs, which we then use to keep the insulin (and other meds) cool in a small cooler.

  • A very authoritative technical answer! The followup question should be: How practical is it to reliably get an insulin refill every thirty days in Alaska in winter, specifying where in Alaska the OP will be. – ab2 ReinstateMonicaNow Oct 22 '17 at 1:55
  • Getting the refill every 30 days in Alaska is not a problem, the problem is that off grid generally includes off the power grid as well as the mail delivery grid. There are about 200 post offices across the state some near the middle of no where 1104 SUMMER ST, ANAKTUVUK PASS, AK 99721-9800, the problem is the travel time getting to the post office to pick up your refill, which is why I suggest planning for a 3 day round trip. – James Jenkins Oct 22 '17 at 10:21
  • P.S. Middle of winter is not the problem either, middle of winter a snow machine will take you most anyplace or a plane can land on frozen lake. It is spring and fall, when the ice and snow are not dependable that is the problem. When the ice is just building or just breaking up you can't safely travel on it, nor can a plane land on it. – James Jenkins Oct 22 '17 at 10:27
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    Thanks @JamesJenkins for introducing several methods of making this seem more possible that I didn't think of (propane, kerosene etc.) and providing some experience insight. I suppose if I could acquire reliable tranporation to a pharmacy, sticking with 30(28) day refills will be the best route to go. – Angelo Oct 23 '17 at 19:41
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Use the same solution anyone uses to make unreliable power reliable: get a gas/diesel/etc generator and heater.

  • Actually get two alternate power sources if lack of power creates life threatening issues. But this does not answer the question. This answer implies, you use a generator to provide heat to keep above freezing, and also to power a refrigerator to cool the medicine. – James Jenkins Oct 21 '17 at 10:22
  • @JamesJenkins: no, you'd use a heater to provide heat. Using the generator to provide heat will require almost triple the amount of fuel. – whatsisname Oct 21 '17 at 18:21
  • Fuel is not cheap, especially in Alaska. That would be a good backup source of power if the solar power system fails, although temporary – Angelo Oct 23 '17 at 19:33

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