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  • Emergency Preparedness When Using Supplemental Oxygen

    Posted by Charlene Marshall on February 6, 2019 at 12:10 pm

    For my fellow Canadians on this site: I hope you’re keeping safe and warm amidst the freezing rain we’ve been having in certain parts of our country overnight and into today. I also hope you have power!

    As this latest winter storm moved in, I’ve been thinking of emergency preparedness procedures because I heard on the radio that there is a risk of widespread power outages until the conclusion of this freezing rain system. If the area of this outage is large, then it could also take days for crews to restore power and for those of us requiring supplemental oxygen due to pulmonary fibrosis (PF); this could be a very risky time.

    My fellow columnist Kim Frederickson wrote about this in a previous column titled Coping When the Electricity Goes Out. When she wrote about this, it was a reminder to think about what I need to do to ensure I have enough oxygen in the event of a long-term power outage. However, it wasn’t until this storm hit and the warning about widespread power outages circulated social media, TV news and radio, that I really thought about what I needed to do.

    As a patient living with PF and requiring supplemental oxygen: how to do you prepare for emergency power outages? 

    What steps do you take to ensure you’re safety with the loss of electricity?

    Charlene Marshall replied 5 years, 4 months ago 5 Members · 9 Replies
  • 9 Replies
  • Megan Zetter

    February 7, 2019 at 5:58 pm

    Yes, this is very serious potential problem!!! PLEASE have plenty of canisters on hand and know how long each will last given the liters you currently need. We had a scare with my dad when his concentrator decided to call it quits at 9:30PM. Thankfully we had some back-ups, but they would have only lasted 12 hours and the oxygen supplier would not be able to get us more soon enough. Thankfully hospice took care of everything and we had a functioning concentrator by midnight.

    You don’t think about these things sometimes until you are in the midst of it. Thanks for posting this very important reminder!!

  • Charlene Marshall

    February 7, 2019 at 8:57 pm

    Hi Megan,

    Thanks so much for contributing your thoughts to this topic, I certainly agree with you about the importance of having canisters on hand in the event of a power outage. Thankfully, the reason for my writing this (a threat to a widespread loss of electricity) did not happen with this latest ice storm that hit, but it really got me thinking so I wanted to generate a discussion about it with others as well. I can only imagine how scary it would be not to have enough!! Really glad hospice helped your Dad, and that it wasn’t something you had to navigate on your own.

    I know I am in the midst of figuring out a plan for me if this does happen in future, as it technically could happen any time and while my POC would last on battery for awhile, it wouldn’t likely be long enough in a large power outage. I hope others make a plan too! 🙂

    Take care,

  • Terry Moriarty

    February 8, 2019 at 7:54 pm

    I live in California, so shouldn’t have to worry about weather-related outages.  However, my concentrator has broken twice and power cables deteriorated in the neighborhood and electricity went out.

    In the last case, my son came over and we put tanks strategically around the house. I’m on 8lpm moving around and 3 sitting.  I use an oxymizer cannula,  which double to triple the time I get from a tank.  I have purchased a number of battery-operated lamps that are easier to use than flashlights.  I have battery backups for my devices that last about 24 hours per charge.  The devices are good sources of light too. But even then, when it got dark, I went to a hotel. That’s easy to do when the outage is localized and you can get out of the area.

    I’m considering putting in a battery backup system that runs off car batteries. To keep the circuit for the concentrator, that includes the refridgerator, runs about 15 hours. If I lived in an area like yours, I would have put this system a while ago.

    For the broken concentrators, Lincare came out immediately. Once was on Christmas Eve night and the other was last Sunday night.  I only have praise for the two Lincare servicemen.

    So that’s my ideas. Oxymizer cannulas, back-up battery for the house and long lasting batteries for devices. Also, for 2 incidents, I was asleep when the electricity went out.  That was scary.  Now, I keep an E tank near my bed. I can turn on the battery light and get the tank turned on quickly.  And I sit still so I use less oxygen.

  • Charlene Marshall

    February 9, 2019 at 10:16 am

    Hi Terry,

    Thanks so much for contributing your thoughts to this topic thread. Always one I am curious to hear from others about! I am so jealous of your living in California – such a beautiful state!

    I’m glad you had your son to help, and that you were able to strategize a solution to the power outage. That must have been scary. I think I’d likely do what you did as well, and go to a hotel if it is a prolonged outage. Overall, I think this would make me feel a lot safer. Does your oxygen provider supply you with the oxymizer cannula? I’ve not heard of this before and would be interested in it, especially if it extends the use you get out of your tanks. I also keep an E tank beside my bed at all times in case the power goes out at night. This past summer I was travelling out east with friends, and I only had my POC with me because I flew to the destination so it was easiest just to bring my concentrator. The power went out in the middle of the night unbeknownst to anyone and since I only had my POC, we had to get to a power source quickly. Thankfully I bring my car charger wherever I take my POC, so we plugged it into the car and went for a drive in the middle of the night. Thankfully, the power outage was short lived!

    Thanks for your ideas, they’re much appreciated 🙂


  • Russ Sukut

    February 9, 2019 at 1:01 pm

    Living in a rural area of Vancouver Island we experience frequent power outages during our winter storms.  I and most people living in these areas small gas generators to supply basic emergency power.


    • Terry Moriarty

      February 10, 2019 at 7:13 pm

      Russ, how long does your generator last?

    • Charlene Marshall

      February 10, 2019 at 8:46 pm

      Hello from a fellow Canadian, Russ!

      Ah yes, I can imagine winter storms in Vancouver can be quite treacherous and that you’ve had your fair share of experiences with power outages. Glad you’ve set up a generator for emergency back-up power. Im also curious about the answer to Terry’s question, how long does your generator last? Glad you have this option and hopefully most of your power outages are short-lived.

      I was out in Vancouver last April and absolutely loved it. You sure live in a beautiful part of our country!

  • Jay Turbes-s

    February 10, 2019 at 5:18 pm

    Here in CO, we’ve had a few power failures that made us depend on the backup liquid O2 reservoir. But more often, our concentrator has simply given up the ghost as recently as last week, though that isn’t a common occurrence. I know that liquid O2 isn’t an option in a lot of places; when I asked our Kaiser-P. contracted supplier, theoretically, what to do if either the power or concentrator failed without liquid O2 backup (there was a fear that it would be discontinued) I was told, “Take any portable liquid O2 containers you can top off and head for the nearest emergency room…we can get to you within four hours to replace the concentrator”. Last week it took them 12 hours. At 6 lpm, our liquid O2 reservoir is probably good for a couple of days before it would need a refill.

    • Charlene Marshall

      February 10, 2019 at 8:52 pm

      Hi Jay,

      Nice to hear from you and I hope things are going well!

      I never thought of actually using a liquid 02 reservoir actually in the event of a power outage. Typically, I don’t use liquid 02, but I wonder if this might be something I can have on hand in case the power goes out for an extended period of time? I bet my team would consider this, so definitely something to ask them. I’ve not yet had my concentrator stop working for me, but do have a very real fear of what would/will happen if it did. In the summer I experienced a power outage while I was sleeping, and I didnt know anything was wrong until the battery on my POC just started going off like crazy, altering me that I was running low. It woke me up and I went to the car and drove around, having to charge the battery that way. That was a scary enough experience for me…

      Thanks again for sharing this, always such good ideas tossed around on these forums!

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