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Oxygen Emergency Tips

Tips for Using Oxygen During an Emergency Power Outage

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Updated February 23, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Whether it be tumultuous winter thunder storms or the scorching heat of summer, extreme weather always seems to bring with it an increased risk of power outages. And, while sitting in the dark for most of is just a tad inconvenient, for those who rely on electricity to power their oxygen supply, a power outage can be life-threatening.

If you have a chronic illness like COPD and are oxygen-dependent via nasal cannula, non-invasive or mechanical ventilation, you will want to create an emergency response plan so you will be better prepared in case of an unexpected loss of power.

Here are some helpful oxygen emergency tips to guide you:

  • Inform your power company that you are oxygen-dependent. Many companies offer oxygen-dependent patients priority service or even a generator when their power goes out. Find out what steps you need to take to get this type of service.

  • Collaborate with your oxygen supply company. Ask them to help you determine exactly how much oxygen you will need in case of an emergency power outage. This is particularly important if your home is hard to reach when roads are bad and delivery is impossible. Your oxygen supply company may even provide you with one or more compressed oxygen cylinders to use during an emergency. Make sure you ask them to label the cylinders so you know how many minutes of oxygen are available in each.

  • Contact your local police and fire departments to let them know that you are oxygen-dependent. If your own emergency plan fails, you may be able to use them as a backup power source.

  • Talk to your doctor about reducing your oxygen flow rate during an emergency. This may help buy you some time and extend the life of your oxygen supply.

  • Consider installing your own emergency generator, especially if you live in a remote location. It may be a bit costly, but the safety and security it will provide is priceless.

  • Organize a support team whom you can call in case of an emergency. This may include friends, neighbors, co-workers, church members, or other people who live in close proximity to you who are willing to lend a hand.

Being prepared in case of an emergency is vital to COPD patients who must use supplemental oxygen. Learn more about oxygen therapy and recommended oxygen safety tips.

Compare prices of portable oxygen concentrators.

Sources:

COPD International. Oxygen - Emergency Tips During Power Outages. http://www.copd-international.com/Library/oxygen_emergency_tips.htm.

Kailes, June Isaacson. Emergency Safety Tips for People Who Use Electricity and Battery-Dependent Devices. 2006. Published and distributed by the Frank D. Lanterman Regional Center and June Isaacson Kailes, Disability Policy Consultant.

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