Coping When the Electricity Goes Out

Coping When the Electricity Goes Out

Just breathe, passionate help for the PF journey
Yesterday I had a difficult experience. It began when our electricity went out as it was turning dark. We didn’t know the cause of the power outage, or how long it would be out. We later learned that a tree in the neighborhood fell down and took out a transformer. I wasn’t concerned initially, other than the normal inconveniences everyone experiences.

I use liquid oxygen, which doesn’t require electricity, but I do use an oxygen concentrator at night. My husband and I took out our flashlights, and talked about what we should do. We initially decided to stay home and go to bed early.

After about 10 minutes we changed our minds

We live in northern California, and it was 95 degrees (Fahrenheit) outside. After 10 minutes without electricity, it was 80 degrees in the house and climbing. I don’t do well in the heat because it makes it more difficult for me to breathe. I turned on a battery-operated portable fan, which helped only a little.

My husband said, “We can’t stay here, it isn’t safe for you.” I’m so grateful for him! He started packing a few things, including a concentrator and some cords to put in the car. I got on the phone to make a reservation at a hotel. It took me five tries before I found a hotel that wasn’t full.

It took about a half an hour to leave, and the temperature had climbed another few degrees. My husband filled up my portable stroller with liquid oxygen so I could get to and from the car. We packed and went to the hotel, and stayed there until morning, and I am so glad we did.

I learned a few things from this event

I was prepared by having:

  • a source of oxygen that didn’t require electricity
  • flashlights that worked
  • a battery-operated fan
  • a bag of oxygen cords, connectors and cannulas already packed to bring with us

I hadn’t considered:

  • how not having electricity would affect me on a really hot day
  • that I might have trouble finding a hotel room

I’m going to add the numbers of several hotels in the area to my bag of oxygen cords, connectors and cannulas so I don’t have to look them up, and add another set of batteries to run the fan.

All in all, it wasn’t very much to deal with – especially as I considered all those who are dealing with the hurricane and flooding in Texas and Louisiana. I kept thinking about what our fellow PF patients must be going through in those areas, and offering up prayers on their behalf.

How about you?

I’d love to hear from you! How have you coped when your electricity went out? What has given you the most problems? What other ways have helped you get through this challenge?

We’re in this together! Please share this post with anyone you think could benefit, or on social media.


Note: Pulmonary Fibrosis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Pulmonary Fibrosis News, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to pulmonary fibrosis.

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  1. Ron Odom says:

    I have a portable (on rollers) Air Conditioner and two portable Generators. Not the best solution, but it works in a pinch.

    Honda 2K Watt Companion (quiet & efficient).
    Cummins Onan Home Site 5K Watt on wheels (noisy & inefficient).

    Best solution would be a permanently installed home generator that automatically starts when utility power is lost.

  2. JUDY KRASOVEC says:

    So far haven’t had to deal with that, but I will take your advice and get organized. . Especially the phone #. I locked my keys in the trunk! Purse, cell phone which had all my contact #s on it and couldn’t remember any #s . Made for alot of anxiety! Do so enjoy your articles. Thanks

    • Hi Judy, thanks for sharing. What a scary experience! I now have a little bag that hangs on the cart with my O2 that holds an extra set of keys, $20, and an extra cannula…just in case. I had to use it a few weeks ago when I locked my keys in the car! It’s so easy to do when we are managing O2 cords, etc.

  3. Robin Ives says:

    Kim – I am so glad the who process worked out without incident. I can’t imagine what the poor folks are going through from the hurricane!! And now another one coming to FL.

  4. Bill says:

    You might consider having all the hotel chain Apps on your phone. You never know when this could save your life. In April last year we were driving home from National Jewish Health in Denver when we got caught in a snow storm on I 75 at 10,000+feet. There were thousands of cars stuck in a mighty jam. Fortunately my wife had insisted on a full tank and I calculated we could idle for at least 12 hours keeping my POC running and keeping warm. A stranger in the car next to me noticed my cannnula. He jumped out of his vehicle and walked around my car scraping all the snow off my windows. What a good Samaritan!

    Eventually we started moving. There was no telephone service or wifi. We drove a hair raising 20 miles at about 7 mph with a visibility of about 20 yards when we saw a sign for Vail and I got off I 75. I was scared I’d get hit knowing I could never walk anywhere at that altitude and in that snow.

    Every narrow miss I had that night reminded me what a dangerous situation I was in. At one point the car in front of us stopped; I looked in the mirror and saw the car behind us go into a slo-mo skid. I steered into the next lane – empty fortunately – the car behind skidded right by me, missing us by 6 inches

    My wife ran into 6 or 7 hotela and, of course, no vacancies. The I remembered the apps – by now we had phone/wifi service. The Holiday Inn had i vacancy in Vail and we reserved it. When we got there the desk was turning away people and we did, indeed, get the last room. I was never more pleased to pay $375 for a standard HI room.

    Now I have apps (and passwords) for all the major hotels. I had never used one before that night, and hadn’t stayed in a Holiday Inn in 5+years.

    BTW When we left Denver, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky.

    • Oh Bill, what a story! So stressful…and yes a very dangerous situation. So glad your wife insisted on having a full tank, and that you were able to avoid that car accident. Whew! I LOVE your idea of having apps for the major hotel chains on my phone. After I read your comment I added them. I love that we can all help one another with really helpful ideas…so thanks so much for sharing yours.

  5. geoff says:

    my electricity went out 2x when on oxygen, first time i had enough tank oxygen; the second time i went to local hospital where they have emergency generators so they let me stay overnight hooked up to oxygen however medicare did no cover it so I had to pay 200 dollars I had no choice, I wrote to the local utility for reimbursement and never heard back typical for a monopoly after spending 20-30 k over a number of years so I moved sound to a cheaper area too live; furthermore one can calculate based flow or liters per minute how many e tanks one would need for a 24 to 36 hour period and keep that number on hand , i had 15-20 e tanks ; now post transplant 5 years grateful every day

    • Hi Geoff, Thanks so much for sharing your experience. How scary. I love how you took care of yourself by moving to a cheaper area to live, and making sure you had enough tanks in reserve for 24 to 36 hours. So happy you are 5 years post transplant and doing well!

  6. Donald Turner says:

    I had just been put on oxygen 24-7 at 6liters when a storm hit. Downed trees in our neighborhood left us without electricity for 3 days. I am so thankful for my neighbor, who after checking on me, discovered I had no generator and hooked me up to his. Also, my oxygen man made sure everyone on his route had plenty of tanks. I now have a generator (thank you Kaye),speed dial to my oxygen man, phone chargers in every vehicle, tanks are all full, water and flashlights, and plenty of water to last a week.

    • Hi Donald! Thank God for good neighbors and a caring oxygen man. Wow! I love your list: generator, speed dial to O2 man, phone chargers in cars, gas tanks full, water and flashlights. Excellent! I need to add a few of these items to my emergency list! Thanks so much for sharing your wisdom from experience 🙂

  7. Gail Eaker says:

    Unfortunately mine out in middle of night and i did not know it. Woke up coughing and severe headache. Went on liquid tank for the day but was really hard to sleep. But i did buy a converter for my car to plug my concentrator into.

  8. W Paul Bockewitz says:

    I am relatively new on 6L 24/7. I’ve had a LOT of trouble finding a portable concentrator due to the 6L requirement. My Dr. recently ok’ed me to travel at 5L if I remain relatively inactive. Our daughter’s family recently moved 900 mi away. Does anyone know of a POC that won’t drive other travelers crazy & get me kicked off the plane? Oh, & won’t make me mortgage the house (medicare?). Any help would be greatly appreciated. I’m getting tired of trying to re-invent the wheel! Thanks Paul B

    • Hello, yes it is such a difficult problem to fly once our O2 needs increase. As far as I know the Inogen G2 is the best because it goes to 6 pulse. There is a Sequel that says it goes up to 9 pulse, but it doesn’t really. I tried it for a day and sent it back. It was really heavy and made a LOT of noise. Once you get where you are going you can arrange to have O2 delivered (concentrator and gas cylinders).

  9. Ron Cade says:

    This is a excellent read, especially for the worlds greatest procrastinator Not proud about that, just a fact. I’m not as prepared as I thought. Guess I better get off my retirement and put together a different type of bug-out bag. Thanks.

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