Liquid. It’s everywhere. Nearly three quarters of the surface of the earth is covered in water and nearly half of your body is made of the stuff. You ARE going to encounter it, even if you’re an affirmed aquaphobe. But what about your insulin pump? Is it safe for your pump to get wet?
If you’re an avid swimmer or outdoors-person, you’ll probably already be aware of IPX ratings. Everything from camping equipment to electronics carries this rating. And, now, so does your insulin pump.
The IPX rating (International Protection Marking) rates the degree with which an item is protected against foreign objects, for example, dust or water. Insulin pump manufacturers have started using these ratings as an easy, well-defined way to let users know how waterproof their devices are.
In order to help you better understand these ratings, I’ve compiled an easy-to-understand list.
IPX0: your device has no water resistance at all.
Think about when you’re reading in the bath and you drop your book into the water. Total ruin. That baby’s gone.
IPX1: pump is protected from a bit of dripping water.
Like those first few drops of rain that hit you between the time you put out your hand to check if, yes, it IS really raining and you deciding to put up your umbrella.
IPX2: same as IPX1.
Safe from a bit of dripping water, but this time only if the pump is tilted not more than 15% from its vertical position.
Um, what? Okay, I’m easy, I can go with this. But it DOES mean that if you hit that 16%, whoo, watch out. Remember the bath book?
IPX3: pump is protected from sprayed water at any angle up to 60% from the pump’s vertical position.
I swear I don’t make this up. Think water fight with the kids on a hot summer day. What a great way to teach the kids some geometry AND have peace of mind about your pump!
IPX4: splashed water.
Pumps are protected from splashes from bathing really chill dogs. Or from medium-sized coffee spilled by strangers when they bump into you on the street. (Anything more than a medium usually leads to romantic entanglements and a voided pump warranty. Ahh, love.)
IPX5: pump protect from water jets.
We’re talking super soakers here, ladies and gents. Whether from your own kids or by a complete surprise soak from a neighbour if you live in a particularly strange and impulsive neighbourhood. Pumps are also protected from those times you lock yourself out of the house and, because you’re having such a bad day, get caught when the sprinklers hilariously turn themselves on. Hey, it happens in movies so it must be true.
IPX6: remember those water jets? This rating pushes it to the next level – powerful water jets.
Pumps are protected if your kids (or those strange neighbours of yours) decide to glue three super soakers together and fire them at the same time.
IPX7: pumps are protected when fully immersed up to one metre.
So you’ve just moved into a home that was built on a cursed graveyard and you decide to take a nice bath. Oops, vengeful spirits make you fall asleep in the tub! Relax, at least your pump is covered! Your house and contents insurance, on the other hand...
IPX8: protection against continuous immersion under the conditions specified by the manufacturer.
Any pump given an IPX8 rating will be protected for long leisurely swims, being stranded at sea for a day, and accidental canoe tips (accidental my Aunt Fanny, I saw what you did, Howie from summer camp!)
IPX9 (last one, I promise!): powerful high temperature water jets.
Silkwood, anyone? No? Too obscure? Okay, prison movies. Those scenes where new prisoners are cleaned with powerful blasts of really hot water by guards with a grudge and nothing to lose? Or any decontamination shower in sci fi or horror movies. You may still have an alien parasite, but your pump is fine.
Keep in mind also that, while your device may be waterproof, your infusion site may not last as long unless you’ve superglued it on. Keep an eye on your site; a pump at the bottom of the lake is only good for diabetic fish. (Learn more about how to save money on infusion sets here.)
See the chart below, showing IPX ratings for devices currently available in Canada.
Water is a broad topic, and you may have additional questions about your pump’s protection:
- what about swimming in salt/ocean water?
- is water temperature important?
- is that cloudy lake water okay?
- what about heavily chlorinated water like swimming pools and hot tubs?
The IPX ratings are guidelines. While they ARE updated regularly (to include new technology etc), it’s always best to check with your pump manufacturer (per IPX8), your pharmacist, or your diabetic team if you have any specific questions about your device’s warranty and abilities.
I’m off now to throw some sneaky water balloons at my unsuspecting neighbour!
Click on the button below to learn how you can save money on all of those infusion sets that have fallen off in the water!