If you’re visiting family, running errands, or even traveling, more often times than not you’re driving to get there, but how do you do travel with your portable oxygen concentrator?
Luckily, today, portable oxygen concentrators come in various shapes and sizes; some even as light as 1.75 pounds! Traveling with oxygen shouldn’t be a difficult or negative experience and today many POCs come with a plethora of useful and convenient accessories like carrying cases, rolling carts, backpacks, car charging cords, and more to make driving even easier! View new concentrator accessories.
Although jumping in your car with a portable oxygen unit is easy, there are still a few tips and guidelines that can help make your next car trip with oxygen easy and most of all, safe! Keep reading to learn our top 4 tips of using your POC in the car! Click this link if you'd like to see a video of our tips!
1. Do Not Leave Your Unit in the Car
One of our most important rules of advice, especially during warm months, is do not leave your concentrator in your car! Operating temperatures go up to roughly 104 degrees; however, internal vehicle temperatures can easily exceed that at many popular vacation destinations such as Las Vegas and Phoenix. A POC is considered an electronic and will have a hard time operating in temperatures over 100 degrees. High temperatures can easily damage circuitry within the unit.
Lithium Ion Batteries
Something of equal importance are the batteries inside your unit. Portable oxygen concentrator batteries are Lithium Ion, meaning high temperatures will erode the efficacy of the batteries which in turn will reduce charging ability over time. The same is true for extreme cold temperatures as well. If a concentrator is exposed to extreme conditions, it’s important that the machine return to proper operating temperature before continuing use.
Unfortunately, we often hear stories from patients about their concentrators being stolen out of their car. POCs are valuable pieces of equipment and should be taken with you, when not at home, and kept within sight. Carrying cases, backpacks, and easy rolling carts can help by comfortably keeping your concentrator within reach while not restricting your freedom.
2. Don’t Smoke!
Smoking while using oxygen is the number one cause of fire injuries and related deaths. Do not smoke, use candles, or have any other open flames in a car with an oxygen concentrator or oxygen-carrying accessories. Smoking while wearing an oxygen cannula may cause facial burns and possibly death. Make sure you do not remove your cannula and place it on any clothing, cushions, or other flammable materials while the machine is in use.
If you MUST Smoke These 3 Steps May Save Your Life
- Turn off the unit.
- Take off the cannula
- Leave your car or the room where your oxygen device is located
3. Store Your Unit Safely
When driving, it’s best, if possible, to place the unit on the passenger side’s floor, you can also place it on the passenger side’s seat but make sure it is completely secure, buckled in, and will not move or cause distractions while driving.
Keep it Free & Clear
Be sure you do not place anything on top of the unit such as purses, blankets, or clothing. This may cause the unit to overheat. Your POC is an electronic and as such has the tendency to overheat and malfunction if its vents are blocked or covered. Keep it secure, upright, uncovered and in place at all times during driving.
4. Bring Your DC Charging Cord
Luckily, a DC power adapter charging cord is a standard included accessory among concentrators today. This power cord acts as a battery charger for internal and external batteries on most units and hooks up to your car via standard cigarette lighter. Consult your owner’s manual for unit specific information on how to charge and use your DC power adapter. Can’t find your cord? View additional charging cords and accessories.
IMPORTANT: Your vehicle should be started and running before connecting to the DC outlet! Never leave a unit plugged into the DC charger in a car that is not running. Doing so will cause the unit to continue to pull power, thus killing the battery and potentially hurting the unit.
Available Power & Charging Time
Most concentrators will charge under DC power; however, that can mean charging more slowly than AC power. Estimate and allow for more charging time when using DC power vs. AC power, especially if you are planning on running your unit while charging.
Although most units will charge with a DC charging cord, that’s only if there is sufficient power available in the car. The available charging power will vary depending on the type of car you have. Consult your owner’s manual and the manual of your vehicle to find the charging output needed by the unit and provided by the vehicle.
No indication of charging? If the external power light or charging indicator on the unit does not illuminate, disconnect the power cable from the DC outlet, restart your vehicle, and then reconnect the cable to the DC outlet.
Consult your owner’s manual if you need more assistance on charging and troubleshooting your individual unit in the car.
- Before making any changes to your lifestyle or activity level be sure to consult your doctor and discuss any activity restrictions you may have or foresee.
- Also consider discussing any altitude changes, high pollution areas, extreme temperature or humidity, or any seasonal allergies that may affect you on your trip.
- It’s always best to travel with your prescription should any additional needs or issues arise.
- If you’re going to a drier climate you may want to consider a humidified bottle.
- Dry and dusty climates may cause units to pick up extra debris. Keep your concentrator in top working order by keeping filters clean and clear. Read more about cleaning your POC.
- If your trip includes air travel, be sure to contact your individual airline in advance to meet their requirements for flying with an oxygen concentrator. Read more about flying with an oxygen concentrator.