Airport Security….Pumps…and Advice for Little Ones.

Airport scannerThere has been much discussion about what happens with an insulin pump when going through security at airports.

I caution those who say, “it’s okay, I just send it through…..so far…nothing has happened, so why worry.”  I have heard others say one should not attempt that because it could damage the machinery. 

Now, granted, you can get away with something 346 times but if something happens on the 347th; everything before; is for naught.  I asked Caroline Pavis Director of Global Communications at Animas for a statement about pumps; of course she could only speak for her devices but it surely might be a rule-of-thumb to live by.

Animas is committed to providing our patients with the highest standard of care, and continues to investigate how we can support our traveling pumpers. 

Currently, we recommend that our patients avoid going through X-ray machines when traveling, as the machines may potentially damage the pump’s software and therefore affect insulin delivery.  This includes the newest airport screening tool, Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT) or full body scanner. 

We provide detailed instructions both on our website and directly to our pumpers about the proper procedures to follow during airport security check-ins, including:

• Patients should alert TSA employees that they are an insulin pump user, and should not undergo an X-ray machine

• We also provide a letter, which can be shared with airport personnel should they be questioned or asked to be scanned  

We encourage our patients to refer to the Animas website at www.animas.com or call our Customer Support line at 877-767-7373, should they have questions concerning travel with their pump.

So that is the OFFICIAL word.  You may read what others do, which may be contrary to what is correct; you may do what YOU THINK IS OKAY, but be warned now you know that the manufacturer clearly gives a warning and it would probably be smart to heed the advice. 

Taking an extra 10 minutes at TSA might avoid an entire days’ worth of hassles later on.

For those who do not travel frequently with children, or perhaps this is a first time experience, may I suggest the following:
Children fear the unknown.  If your child has diabetes it may very well turn out that they will be “wand’ at the security check point at the airport.  DO not make this their first time to experience this.

While at home, take a tool that is dark and about 18 inches long (something your children may not really recognize).  Explain to your child that when at the airport the TSA Agent (let them know who they are and say the name TSA a few times in the explanation) may need to run a wand, sort of like what you are holding, around them.

DO NOT tell them it is a game.  Do not tell them it is because of their diabetes….tell them that mommy and daddy may be chosen as well.

Have them stand with their legs and arms apart and run the wand around them like they do at an airport.

Do this is a few times and with all of your children, not just the one(s) with diabetes, do your spouse/partner as well.  Do it, if possible on a few different days.  After you have done it the first few times….explain to your child that a beeping sound may happen as well.  And make a beeping sound from time to time as well.

Do this a few times within about a week before you leave and your child will not be exposed to seeing something for the first time while on-line at the airport.  Much anxiety will be avoided.

Again; fear of the unknown, make it ‘known’ and the fear will be greatly diminished.

Happy Travels.

I am a diabetes dad.

Please visit my Diabetes Dad FB Page and hit ‘like’.

0 thoughts on “Airport Security….Pumps…and Advice for Little Ones.

  • If I could add something based on my experience going through an airport with a toddler with diabetes, it is this…go through the checkpoint before your child, or have one parent go first if there are two adults. We have a tendency to send our child in front of us, ushering them along, and then when they pull your child aside to wand them, you are on the wrong side of the security checkpoint and your child is by himself or herself! This is what happened to us the first time we went to the airport with diabetes.

  • Very good article Tom – I never thought of going over with my child what they will face if it’s their first time flying thru’ the friendly skies of America! I’m an Animas user – who carries that card – stating all that Caroline has given to you – I have sometimes had to argue with the TSA agent (politely – I’m Canadian) that I require a hand pat down after the metal detector goes off. It’s only once where it was scary – and every agent available came around telling me that the full body scan was fine for my pump. So far, no TSA agent has ever taken a glance at the card – but my hopes that eventually all agents will be trained to understand why we pumpers – request this. I never ever hide the fact I wear a pump – especially when I’m walking thru’ with a loaner pump (Animas states that you should not send this thru’ the x-ray machine with your carry on luggage).

    I like what JustJenny has suggested – for the adults to first go thru’ – at least you will be ahead of the child. My husband who travels thru’ with me – is usually behind me – and last time I had some probs ( http://www.diabetes1.org/blogs/Annas_Blog/Alien_abduction_causes_TSA_to_ponder_about_my_security ) – he was worried about the way I was being treated – and couldn’t help – as they restricted him to the area I was contained in. If he’d been ahead of me thru’ the screening process as JustJenny suggests – it might have been easier. To have a child feel the way I’ve done a few times – I would dread it.

    One thing – make sure you get to the airport at least 1 hour earlier than you are told. Pack some snacks that you can eat on the other side if you’ve got more time to kill before getting on your plane. Way cheaper to do this and not face some of the food choices you have on the other side. Stress may bring our BG’s down – so better to be prepared (think of it as a road trip – but instead – we are flying).

    One thing – I travel all around the world – and it’s only in the US that I go thru’ this everytime. I go thru’ the metal detector, it doesn’t set off like it seems to always do in the US – and I’m on my way.

  • Very good article Tom – I never thought of going over with my child what they will face if it’s their first time flying thru’ the friendly skies of America! I’m an Animas user – who carries that card – stating all that Caroline has given to you – I have sometimes had to argue with the TSA agent (politely – I’m Canadian) that I require a hand pat down after the metal detector goes off. It’s only once where it was scary – and every agent available came around telling me that the full body scan was fine for my pump. So far, no TSA agent has ever taken a glance at the card – but my hopes that eventually all agents will be trained to understand why we pumpers – request this. I never ever hide the fact I wear a pump – especially when I’m walking thru’ with a loaner pump (Animas states that you should not send this thru’ the x-ray machine with your carry on luggage).

    I like what JustJenny has suggested – for the adults to first go thru’ – at least you will be ahead of the child. My husband who travels thru’ with me – is usually behind me – and last time I had some probs ( http://www.diabetes1.org/blogs/Annas_Blog/Alien_abduction_causes_TSA_to_ponder_about_my_security ) – he was worried about the way I was being treated – and couldn’t help – as they restricted him to the area I was contained in. If he’d been ahead of me thru’ the screening process as JustJenny suggests – it might have been easier. To have a child feel the way I’ve done a few times – I would dread it.

    One thing – make sure you get to the airport at least 1 hour earlier than you are told. Pack some snacks that you can eat on the other side if you’ve got more time to kill before getting on your plane. Way cheaper to do this and not face some of the food choices you have on the other side. Stress may bring our BG’s down – so better to be prepared (think of it as a road trip – but instead – we are flying).

    One thing – I travel all around the world – and it’s only in the US that I go thru’ this everytime. I go thru’ the metal detector, it doesn’t set off like it seems to always do in the US – and I’m on my way.

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