Always Be Prepared When Going Out with Oxygen

Always Be Prepared When Going Out with Oxygen

Just breathe, passionate help for the PF journey

A scary moment

I recently had a scare while in my backyard. I was cutting some ivy, an easy task I can do without bending over or digging in the dirt. I had a full tank of oxygen with me, and I was trimming on my back fence.

Clipping mishap. (Photo by Kim Fredrickson)

Despite being careful, I clipped right through my oxygen tubing. I immediately got scared, sat down on a chair, and said, “Oh no, oh no, oh no!” I was 200 feet from the back door and started to panic a little. I use 10 liters per minue when walking, and I wasn’t sure I could make it. My husband was at the grocery store, and I was home alone.

Then I remembered that I had an extra oxygen cannula inside a bag attached to the cart I use to push around my oxygen. I pulled it out and attached a new cannula. It took a little while for my O2 levels and heart rate to return to normal.

I was so grateful I had the cannula with me, along with some other items I might need in an emergency. I’m hoping my experience will help you.

Always be prepared

The boy scouts are right with their motto, “Always be prepared.” I’d like to share the items I have with me when I am out and about.

As the next two pictures show, I have a small bag attached to my oxygen cart that holds a cannula, $20, an extra set of car keys, a pen, and chapstick. I also had my phone in my pocket. About a year ago, I locked myself out of my car, and I was so glad I had an extra set of car keys.

Feeling vulnerable

Being dependent on oxygen to stay alive puts me in a vulnerable place. It’s so important to be prepared for the worst-case scenario, both when at home and away from home. Being ready no matter what is one of the ways I practice self-care.

Having to use supplemental oxygen 24/7 is hard enough without having to deal with a (preventable) oxygen emergency.

What I learned

  • I’m not going to do simple gardening if no one else is home. If I didn’t have an extra cannula with me, I don’t think I could have made it back to the house.
  • I’m going to keep reminding myself just how vulnerable I am and how prepared I need to be.
  • I’m going to always bring an extra tank outside in case something goes wrong with the tank I have with me.

I’d love to hear from you

What close calls have you had while using oxygen? How do you prepare for a worst-case scenario? What other words of wisdom do you have for us?

Please leave a comment below.


Share your opinion and join the discussion about oxygen in our Pulmonary Fibrosis News forums!


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. David Collard says:

    Kim Fredrickson – thanks for the comments and advise… an Glad to hear that you were able to replace your oxygen cannula with a spare. I too am concerned about running out of oxygen and always take a spare tube with me when I go out. The other thing that I reply on is having my wife with me during all travel and exercise times in the event that I run short of oxygen. I think having your phone with you also is a good idea.
    thanks for your advise and comments.
    Dave Collard

  2. Charles R Perry says:

    I cut my tubing once so I just stuck the end with the air coming out into my mouth. That worked just fine until I could do replace the cut tubing.

  3. Cindy Dennard says:

    My husband has pulmonary fibrosis, which by the way, was caused by his acid reflux. He had that repaired by the linx procedure at the Mayo Clinic, but the damage to his lungs was already done. Like you, he loves to work in the yard. He could no longer do that until recently we purchased a portable oxygen concentrator and a backpack. It was an expensive purchase, but has given him back a little more freedom to do the things he loves. We have made several long road trips. He can still go sit on the beach, do some light yard work and has been practicing to dance at our granddaughters wedding. He has two batteries he keeps charged. I realize this machine won’t work for everyone because of the limited oxygen level. But thank goodness it has worked for him at this time.

    • Joyce Douglas says:

      Thank you Kim for your smart advice and for your sharing your experience. I recall last winter someone asked how hard it would be to snap an oxygen tubing in the frosty weather. We were told ‘it’ll snap
      like nothing’. Ever since I have carried an extra cannula in the car in the cold weather and one in my purse if going out of town. One just never knows when it could be needed. I am learning to tell friends and neighbors if I am going outside so they can keep a check on me also. We know we are less hardy and more fragile, but don’t want to admit it. I’d rather be embarrassed than in a dangerous situation which could have been avoided.

      • Dear Joyce, I’m so glad you thought ahead to carry an extra cannula because of your cold winters. Such a good ideas to ask neighbors to check on you when you go outside. Smart! Blessings to you.

    • Joyce Douglas says:

      Hi Cindy Dennard. My husband purchased a portable oxygen concentrator a year ago and we flew down to Ontario. I had no problems flying and it was a real treat to still be able to travel. We DID dance at our granddaughter’s wedding and it was such a thrill for us and our family. It was well worth it. My husband carried the POC and I just kept up to the unit. Always take a spare cannula with you just I case. We also have 2 batteries. Such good feeling freedom.

    • Hi Cindy, thanks so much for sharing about your husband’s development of PF. I’m so glad you were able to get a POC. Totally worth the money to keep active. I used to use one until my oxygen needs went higher than it could provide. Enjoy every moment!!!!

    • frances gilbert says:

      i am wondering is your husband eligible for medicare? my husbands concentrator was paid for by medicare.

  4. Guy Anderson says:

    Great Day Kim remember oxygen still coming out the hose which you could hold up to your mouth to get air until you get what you need. I to prepare I carry extra o ring for my tanks not on liquid extra tube and extra tanks Thanks for all the information you put out. IPF 8 years

    • Hi Guy! Such a good idea. I didn’t even think of that. It feels good to have that as a back up plan if it happens again. Congrats for being 8 years out. Amazing! Best Wishes!

  5. Denise Hines says:

    Hi Kim,
    I happened on your page by accident. But boy am I glad I did. I have COPD and am going to try it out. Thanks

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