Diabetic on Playa

FAQ – Diabetic at Burning Man

Burning Man is held in one of the harshest environments on the planet. For a participant with no medical conditions, the conditions can be uncomfortable. For a participant with diabetes, it can be downright challenging. This short FAQ addresses some things you should know if you have diabetes and plan on attending Burning Man.

Q. What is diabetes?
A. Diabetes is an endocrine system disease in which the body is not able to control blood sugar levels.

Q. How is diabetes controlled?
A. Blood sugar levels are often monitored with small test strips and small blood samples. Blood sugar levels are controlled by a combination of diet, and either by-mouth diabetic medications or insulin injections.

Q. What are the challenges of managing my diabetes at Burning Man?
A. Sleep and eating schedules and activity levels are often different than you are used to keeping at home. Hydration is a challenge. If you use insulin, you are responsible for monitoring your own blood sugar levels, and for storage and administration of insulin.

Q. Will Burning Man keep my insulin refrigerated for me?
A. No. You are responsible for maintaining your own insulin supply, and for having all the test strips, syringes and needles, and anything else you will need to control your diabetes.

Q. I am prone to infections in my feet and legs. Should I be concerned about this?
A. The playa is a harsh, unforgiving environment where it is much more challenging to keep clean than it is at your home. If you are prone to foot and leg problems, wear shoes and socks at all times. Going bare foot on the playa is a recipe for undue drying, cracking, and open sores.

Q. If I have a hypo/hyperglycemic episode or get an infection or have any other complication with my diabetes, will someone be able to help me?
A. Burning Man encourages you to take care of yourself as best as you can. If you find yourself in a situation that you cannot handle, Burning Man’s medical staff can provide initial evaluation and care, and has available ambulance resources to transport you to Reno if necessary. While medical care on the playa is provided for free, you (or your health insurance) will be responsible for the cost of ambulance transportation and care provided off-playa.

Q. What can I do to minimize complications with my Diabetes while at Burning Man?

  • Get plenty of rest, drink enough fluid, and be aware of your body and what it is telling you.
  • Bring an amount of medications, supplies, and any equipment you will need that will last for the entire time you are on the Playa.
  • Make campmates aware of your condition, and aware of how they could help you if you need help. It is also highly recommended to wear a medic alert bracelet at all times.
  • Be aware of where medical resources are at Burning Man. (There is medical help available at Center Camp and at both the 3:00 and the 9:00 Plazas)