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Insulin Pumps and Surf

If you’ve already checked out our article on insulin pumps and sun, you may be saying, “That’s great if my child only builds sand castles on the beach, but what if he wants to go for a swim?”

Ahhhh…. Water!

Some insulin pumps are waterproof – if your child wears an insulin pump that is waterproof, you only have to worry about the heat. But if it’s not, and you hesitate to dive in with that critical – and expensive! – medical device, there are steps you can take to keep non-waterproof insulin pumps and other medical devices (such as blood glucose monitors, and Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM) receivers) dry.

  • Consider disconnecting the pump from your child’s body. For short periods of time, and under conditions of increased physical activity, you may find that the missed basal insulin (which typically leads to rising blood glucose) is offset by the increased physical activity (which typically leads to a decrease in blood glucose). Have your child check her blood glucose immediately following disconnection, and then again 1-2 hours later, to see if insulin needs to be adjusted temporarily following disconnection.
  • If the disconnection time is brief (for example, your child disconnects the pump right before an amusement park splash ride, then reconnects immediately after), you may find that no further action is required.
  • If you would like your child to stay connected to his insulin pump during wet activities, but his insulin pump is not waterproof, there are a few strategies you can try…
    • placing the pump inside a plastic bag and then “zipping” it shut, or taping the top closed, can make the contents highly water-resistant for non-submersion activities.
    • experimenting with flexible waterproof bags (like those used for storing your camera or wallet when boating, snorkelling, or other potentially-drenching activities) may yield positive results. We suggest an online search for “roll-top waterproof bag” or “roll-top dry bag” to see what you can find. What you’re looking for is something that will keep the water out, while still allowing the insulin pump tubing to exit the bag (allowing it to connect to your child’s body), without pinching the tubing and thus interfering with insulin delivery.
  • Even if your child’s pump is guaranteed waterproof, before diving in it may be wise to check for cracks around the battery compartment and the cartridge cap. If the case is compromised, so will the pump’s waterproof quality.

(Although it may still be under warranty, it would be a pain to go without an insulin pump as you wait for a replacement to arrive – especially if your family is on vacation at a pristine lake miles away from civilization!)

For more information on protecting your diabetes stuff in various environmental conditions:
Insulin Pumps and Sun

Insulin Pumps and Snow

The above information was adapted with permission from The Alberta Children’s Hospital Diabetes Clinic information handouts.

The above information was reviewed for content accuracy by clinical staff of the Alberta Children’s Hospital Diabetes Clinic.

This material has been developed from sources that we believe are accurate, however, as the field of medicine (in particular as it applies to diabetes) is rapidly evolving, the information should not be relied upon, as it is designed for informational purposes only. It should not be used in place of medical advice, instruction and/or treatment. If you have specific questions, please consult your doctor or appropriate health care professional.

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