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  • Tips for Driving with Supplemental Oxygen

    Posted by Charlene Marshall on May 4, 2018 at 7:15 pm

    Please note: I posted this in the Canadians Living with Pulmonary Fibrosis Forum only because the ‘rules of the road’ and driving with supplemental oxygen may be different in Canada than the US. However, I’d love to hear from anyone/everyone who wants to comment on this post. All of your input is valuable to me!

    ****************************************************************************************************Hello Wonderful Forum Members,

    To those of you in our community who use supplemental oxygen regularly, are you still permitted to drive per your physician? 

    I am learning that the rules of driving with O2 seems to be different depending on where you live. After I was prescribed oxygen, my doctor didn’t mention anything to me about not being able to drive while using it. I always get a little nervous though when I pass a Police officer, out of fear that they will ask if I have obtained special permission for driving with oxygen, which I haven’t. I renewed my license in the fall and disclosed that I periodically use oxygen (at the time it was more periodic, now I’d say it is more often than not that I use it) and they did not advise that this had to be indicated on my license. Do you think this was correct?

    To those of you who do drive with oxygen:

    1. Do you drive using a tank or POC?
    2. How do you secure your oxygen device: do you put it on the floor of the front passenger seat, or behind you and run the hose up between the seats? 
    3. How do you lift it in and out of the car without taking the hose off to untangle yourself when getting in and out of the car?

    I have been able to manage driving with oxygen so far, and typically I just put my device (most often I take my POC with me) on the front seat beside me, and try to secure it around bags so that if I had to slam on the breaks, it wouldn’t go flying. I know that it is probably better on the floor, I just can’t actively reach it then if I needed to adjust the settings, get a kink out of the tubing, etc. Not being able to access it quickly makes me nervous.

    Even though I can drive with my oxygen, and have been managing to do so for quite some time now, it is getting tiring and I am finding that outings are more daunting when I am using my oxygen.

    Does anyone have any other tips for driving with oxygen? Or, have you been advised one way or another from your physician about whether or not you should be driving, or how to transport your oxygen device safely in a vehicle?

    Sorry for all the questions! I am just feeling tired of lugging my oxygen in and out of the car, especially as my body is adjusting to the heat and humidity that landed upon Ontario this week. It seems harder this year than ever before.

    Thanks in advance!

    Warm regards,

    Charlene Marshall replied 5 years, 6 months ago 3 Members · 4 Replies
  • 4 Replies
  • brian-thomson

    August 27, 2018 at 6:07 am

    Good Morning Charlene.Since I have been on oxygen since March of this year and am on it 24/7 I have a 40 liter tank of liquid oxygen in my basement another 20 liter tank in my truck which I use mostly while camping to fill my 2 portable tanks,It takes a little time to figure out the best way to drive with the portable tanks.I try and secure them as best I can on the floor between the legs is not a good idea.I am able to secure them in the back seat using a 7 foot hose which gives me plenty of freedom to drive and only takes a few seconds to remove from the back seat.I use the seat belt to make sure that it is secure.I live in Waterloo Ont.and was told by the specialist that I have I.P.F.in March.I was being treated for C.O.P.D.for the past 5 years so I left to wonder why my family Dr.took so long to send me to a specialist.I am taking all this in very slowly as my life has changed forever with this.

    • sandra-vanzyl

      August 27, 2018 at 9:52 am

      Hi Charlene …..I don’t really drive too much since I’ve been off work, I had a company vehicle and as of June they have given it to the person replacing me.   But I did drive with the portable and didn’t have any issues with it….lugging it around is definitely a pain in the butt (LOL) but recently got a walker to put it and my purse into the basket and that sure takes the weight off my shoulders….both the portable and my purse both weigh about 10 lbs…eeeek !   I don’t need the walker to actually walk though so am happy about that.  Oh and last time I was at Walmart I used the electric chair rides there….that was kinda neat, somewhat reminded me of go carting and no helmet needed ….the buggies were great too but the Therapist at the Lung Association said to try to make your travels the easiest you can to save your lungs and heart overworking !  Makes some sense to me !

      cheers to all

      • Charlene Marshall

        August 28, 2018 at 6:48 pm

        Hi Sandra,

        It’s nice to hear from you, thanks for all your valuable sharing and experiences in our forums! Hope you’re having a great day 🙂

        I’m glad you didn’t have any issues transporting your oxygen around, did you have trouble lifting it in and out of the vehicle? My portable oxygen concentrator (POC) is also about 10lbs without my purse, or any other item I’m carrying which is usually a water bottle or coffee cup, and my keys. Very tiring and requires a lot of coordination, usually having to put my POC on the ground before lifting it into the car. Did you just put it on the passenger seat beside you? I didn’t really even think about a walker… maybe I’ll bring one with me on a trip coming up so I always have a place to sit so I can rest, plus I can push my oxygen around instead of pulling it.

        I’d try the scooters too, I think those would really conserve my energy. You know what the trouble is I have with those, particularly because of my age? If I don’t have my oxygen on, people look at me like I am being lazy or disrespectful for someone else who might need it “more” than me. I shouldn’t let that bother me but it does, so I’ll hopefully work through that and use a scooter in future!

        Thanks again for writing and chat with you soon.

    • Charlene Marshall

      August 28, 2018 at 6:43 pm

      Hi Brian,

      Thank you so much for getting in touch with me and sharing a bit about your experience with this. It is always a topic that I am interested in hearing from others about.

      I’m hearing a lot about the use of liquid oxygen and how much better it is than a standard portable oxygen concentrator (POC). Do you find them lighter to carry? My current POC is so heavy to carry around for me, although I think it is what helps keep it sturdy while in the car so I shouldn’t complain. I often take it off the trolley and just set it on the floor of the passenger seat with the hose connecting back up to me. Thats a really good idea to use the seatbelt to secure it. Do you stretch the belt down to the floor, around the oxygen and back into the buckle? I suppose I could put it on the seat and use the seatbelt to secure it too.

      I certainly remember how much your life does a complete 360 degrees following a diagnosis, and I’m so sorry to hear of being treated for COPD for so long in error. That must have been frustrating to find out! My friend actually lives in Waterloo so I know it a bit. He said he is really happy with his pulmonary doctor there, I wonder if you have a similar specialist as I can’t imagine there are many! I hope you continue to do alright for a long time, I know it is very tough being on oxygen 24/7. Do you still work Brian?

      Kindest regards and wishing you well.

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