Hot and Cold Weather Safety for diabetics

Hot and Cold Weather Safety for diabetics

Hot and Cold Weather Safety

The weather, believe it or not, can have a big impact on the management of your diabetes. From your general day-to-day management and care, to how and when you exercise, the weather can, and does, get in the way. Thankfully, there are a few things you can do to keep yourself healthy and safe.

Cold Weather

Along with the cold, wind, rain and snow, winter brings with it colds and flu, carbohydrate-rich ‘comfort’ food and a lack of motivation to exercise. For these reason, many people tend to find they put on a few pounds over the winter months. But all your good work during summer and fall doesn’t need to go to waste when the weather turns bad. You can continue to have good control over your diabetes despite the challenges winter brings.


Winter sick days

Unfortunately, being sick goes hand in hand with winter and aside from making you generally feel pretty horrible, being sick can send your blood glucose levels (BGLs) out-of-control. While its best to talk to your doctor to create a personal sick day management plan, there are some simple things you can do when you’re sick to keep you BGLs in control.

  • Continue to take your medication, even if you are not eating much;
  • Check your BGLs every 2-4 hours and take extra insulin if your BGLs are higher than 270mg/dl;
  • Drink a glass of water or sugar free fluid every hour as dehydration can develop very quickly when are sick;
  • Continue to eat if you can and choose light meals such as sandwiches, toast, fruit or juice;
  • If you cannot eat, drink juice or regular soda to prevent your BGLs dropping below 63mg/dl;
  • If your BGL is less than 270mg/dl it is okay to drink sugary drinks especially if you are not eating;
  • If your BGL is higher than 270mg/dl it’s better to drink sugar free fluid, including water.


Cold Weather Exercise

While it is hard to find the motivation to exercise when it’s cold outside, it is still important to do at least 30 minutes a day to help regulate your BGLs. If exercising at home or in the gym is not something you are available to do or like to do, then there are some simple tips to follow when exercising outside in the cold, so that you can stay warm and dry.




  • Wear natural fibers that allow your body to breathe;
  • Wear flexible, comfortable shoes that will keep your feet dry and allow them to breathe;
  • Dress in layers so you can take some of your middle layers off as you warm up and replace them as you cool down;
  • Wear a light-weight, rain-proof jacket that will keep you warm and dry;
  • Wear gloves and a hat to stop too much body heat escaping.


Hot Weather

The warmer weather can cause all kinds of problems with your diabetes, especially if you are unprepared. Just like colds and flu, hot days (above 86 degrees) can wreak havoc on your BGLs, especially if you become dehydrated. But with some simple planning, summer no longer needs to be a problem. Try these simple tips as the warmer weather approaches:

  • Be sure to keep your fluid intake. Dehydration can be very dangerous, even for non-diabetics. Drink at least 6-8 glasses a day – more on really hot days or if you are exercising;
  • Eat foods with a high water content (e.g. lettuce, celery, apples, melons etc.);
  • Eat small, regular meals to avoid a dramatic rise in your BGLs;
  • Avoid being out in the heat during the hottest part of the day (generally the middle of the day).


Hot Weather Exercise

It’s much easier to feel motivated to exercise when the days are sunny and warm and last a little longer. But as enjoyable as exercise in the warmer weather can be, there are some precautions that should be taken.

  • Wear light, layered clothing that allows your body to breathe;
  • Wear comfortable, flexible shoes that protect your feet (leave sandals and flip-flops for summer parties);
  • Carry water and jelly beans with you to stay hydrated and ward-off hypoglycemia;
  • Avoid exercising in the heat of the day. Try exercising in the morning or evening instead;
  • Wear sunscreen, a cap/hat and sunglasses to protect your skin and eyes from the sun.

It is easy to over-do exercise in the heat, especially as you tend to sweat more. Test your BGLs before and after exercise and adjust your insulin dosage and/or carbohydrate intake as needed (remember that exercise has an insulin-like effect on BGLs).


As you can see, staying safe and healthy in the heat or cold doesn’t need to be difficult. In fact with just a little planning and fore-thought, you can still enjoy the seasons and your favorite activities and maintain control over your BGLs all year long.