Preparing for Severe Weather for Oxygen Therapy Patients

When it comes to severe weather, preparation is vital. You may not know exactly when a hurricane, tornado, earthquake or flood will strike, but there are things you can do to be prepared when it does. This is especially important when you have a medical condition. If you are undergoing oxygen therapy and use an oxygen concentrator, here are some helpful tips to get prepared.

Get a Backup Power Source

We never know what to expect when a storm hits, but one thing we can typically count on is a power outage. One way patients using supplemental oxygen can prepare for severe weather is by making sure you have a backup power source to get you through a blackout.

Before the start of your region’s severe weather season, check your oxygen concentrator’s instruction manual to make sure the backup power source you have will work for your specific device.

Call Your Power Company

The next thing you should do to prepare for power outages and severe weather is to call your power company. Let them know you’re an oxygen patient and you need constant electricity to keep your oxygen concentrator running. The power company can then designate your area as a priority area, meaning you’d be at the top of the list for repairs.
You should also ask your electricity provider:

  • How much of a priority are oxygen-dependent customers considered during a power outage?
  • How will they respond when an outage occurs?
  • What’s their estimated timeline for getting power back on after severe weather?
  • Will they give you a generator to power your oxygen concentrator if the outage lasts more than a few hours?

Stock Up On Supplies

Another way to prepare for severe weather is to stock an emergency kit with the supplies you’ll need to get through the storm. Your kit should include things like: water, blankets, first aid supplies, flashlights, food, maps, and flares. It is important that you and your family think about what kinds of resources you use on a daily basis and what you might do if those resources are limited or not available. It is recommended that you plan for at least three days.

Severe Weather First Aid Kit

Think first about the basics for survival – food, water, clean air, oxygen therapy and any other life-sustaining items. Consider two kits; one for at home and a smaller version that you can store in a vehicle. Recommended basic supplies include:

  • Water, at least one gallon of water per person.
  • Food, at non-perishable food or dehydrated meals and a manual can opener.
  • Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio.
  • Flashlight, candles and water-proof matches.
  • Extra concentrator batteries, fully charged.
  • Extra nasal cannulas.
  • First aid kit including adhesive tape, bandages, tapes, cotton balls, scissors, hand sanitizer, antibiotic ointment, eyewash, hydrogen peroxide, pain relievers and personal medications.
  • Whistle.
  • Towel, garbage bags, towelettes and plastic ties for personal sanitation.
  • Wrench or pliers.
  • Local maps.
  • Pet food, extra water and supplies for your pets.

Prepare A Medical Evacuation Kit

As in many severe weather situations, the potential of being displaced or evacuated from your residence can occur. Along with ensuring you have supplies, it might be prudent to have a kit that can easily be taken with you if you are displaced.

Creating a copy of your medical information, prescriptions, doctor information, and insurance information in an easy to access place. This should include any manuals or instructions on medical devices. Additionally, having the secondary power sources like a DC charger or second batteries where you can find and take along with you.

Because an evacuation might require a prolonged amount of time, to be prepared with some of the above mentioned will be helpful. With an oxygen concentrator, the ability to take and use will be dependent on having a power source. Unfortunately, this is what severe weather incidents impact. While power sources can be found or restored, to identify an oxygen tank option or store a tank or two during the severe weather season might be an option for some.

Stock Your Emergency Oxygen Supply

As someone with an oxygen concentrator, your emergency kit should contain more than just the essentials: you also need backup oxygen and a portable tank you can take with you in case of evacuation.

Your oxygen provider can help you get the backup oxygen supply and portable tank you need. If you’re unsure of what supplies to order, give them a call. You should also ask them how they can meet your needs before a storm.

Ask them questions like:

  • How do things like snow, poor road conditions and downed power lines typically affect oxygen delivery to your area?
  • How many tanks of oxygen do they think you’ll need to get you through an outage?
  • Can they label the tanks in your backup oxygen supply with how many hours of continuous oxygen are in each tank?

Here are some additional resources to help you prepare for severe weather storms when using supplemental oxygen:

About Scott Ridl: Scott joined American Medical Sales and Rentals in 2008 as a Web Manager and Content Writer. He is a writer and designer. He is extensively trained on oxygen therapy products from leading manufacturers such as Inogen, Respironics, Chart, Invacare, ResMed and more. Scott works closely with respiratory therapists and oxygen specialists to educate the community about oxygen therapy products, COPD, asthma and lung diseases. He writes weekly columns and is passionate about educating the community on oxygen therapy and respiratory issues.

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