Protect Your Pump: Water

Insulin, Your Pump & Water: protect it when you get wet

So you’ve got your bathing suit, snorkel and your insulin pump… you’re all ready for a day at the pool, ocean or amusement park! But what do you need to know about protecting your insulin and diabetes devices from water? If your child loves the log ride, wants to dive in, or simply would like to bathe without disconnecting... here are some best practices to consider, plus practical how-to's.

(We also have tips for protecting your insulin and d-tech devices in the heat of the sun, or on cold, winter days!)

Make a Splash!

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, or if you have a pump that's been used for while and may not be perfectly water-tight anymore... you are probably hesitant to dive in with that critical – and expensive! – medical device. But here are steps you can take to keep non-waterproof insulin pumps and other medical devices dry, including blood glucose monitors, your Omnipod® PDM, and Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM) receivers.

  • 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.

  • Securing the pump in an empty, leak-proof thermos will protect it (and the insulin inside) from heat and water while disconnected.

  • 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 more water-resistant (for non-submersion activities only).

  • 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!)

More on Insulin Storage (with or without a pump):

More on protecting your d-stuff from the elements:

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.