Hot Weather Concerns for Pumpers

Preventing problems

| Jul 1, 2005

The temperatures are climbing; does this mean trouble for you and your insulin pump? Will your insulin’s potency be affected? Will your glucose levels climb or drop in the warmer weather?

Preventing Problems


Any activity that increases perspiration can loosen the infusion set. If perspiration is a problem, try using a spray of antiperspirant on the insertion site after your usual skin-preparation routine. A small cotton ball held over the intended insertion point, followed by an antiperspirant and allowed to dry before insertion, works for some pump users. Others have success with a skin-barrier preparation, such as Mastisol, Skin-Tac H or compound tincture of benzoin applied to the skin that will be under the transparent occlusive dressing applied over the insertion set.


The pump housing provides some insulation from the heat. Many pump users who live in warmer areas experience very few problems with insulin degradation. Using a protective pouch, such as a Frio wallet, or a leather-like fanny pack with a small, cold gel pack placed inside the pouch, are two ways you can protect your insulin from the effects of heat.

If you are spending an extended amount of time in the sun, cover the pump with a towel to protect it from prolonged direct sunlight. Disconnecting your pump for up to an hour is another option, but if it is disconnected for a longer time, you will need to bolus for missed hourly basal doses.

Blood Glucose Control

Heat and physical activity can affect insulin absorption rates, so check your blood glucose levels more often. Consider a temporary basal reduction or an alternate basal profile program, if your pump has this feature. Change the insulin in the reservoir or cartridge more often—every two days, if you would normally change it every three or four days. If the insulin deteriorates, you can expect high blood glucose levels.


If you disconnect your pump for swimming and beach activities, you can place the pump in a zip-type plastic bag, wrap it in a small towel and then store it in a cooler. Be sure to keep the cooler in sight at all times to safeguard your pump from the possibility of theft.

If your pump manufacturer offers a pump protective device, such as a Sportguard (Medtronic MiniMed) or a waterproof neoprene pack, consider purchasing one. Check with the customer service department for options. If your waterproof pump requires periodic changes of “O” rings or other waterproofing devices, be sure to order these and follow the recommendations for maintaining the waterproof ability of your pump. Wipe or rinse off any sand or dirt. Keeping the pump protected in a pouch will help avoid this problem.


If a bikini is your usual beach attire, at your hip might be the most convenient site for placement. Practice different placement techniques for your summer outfits and outdoor activities.

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