How to operate an oxygen concentrator?

When you first receive your oxygen concentrator, it is important to take some time to learn about the various features and settings of your device. Your operator’s manual will provide you with a broad overview of your device. However, if you are looking for a quick explanation of how to get started, this article will help you understand the basic operation of an oxygen concentrator.

Before we go over the steps, it is important to realize that oxygen concentrators come in stationary and portable models. There are differences between these model types, but for the most part, the following steps will apply to either device. However, we will expand on one additional consideration for portable oxygen concentrators at the end.

Here are the 9 steps for operating an oxygen concentrator:

1. Plug Your Device into a Grounded Wall Outlet
Plugging your device into a wall outlet that is not grounded can cause irreversible damage to your concentrator and is also an electrical hazard. For your safety and the longevity of your device, always insert the power cable into a grounded wall outlet.

2. Move Your Device Away from Any Wall
To efficiently draw in room air and prevent overheating, place your device at least 1–2 feet away from any wall.

3. Check the Air Filter
Your device will have an air filter to remove dust and other particles from the air before it is sent out as concentrated oxygen flow. It is essential to check your air filter frequently to prevent it from clogging, which can put a strain on your device.

4. Connect Your Oxygen Tubing/Cannula
Before turning on your concentrator, connect your oxygen tubing to the device as well as any accessories such as a humidifier, extension tubing, or CPAP mask adapter if applicable.

5. Turn on the Power
Press the power button on your device to turn it on. It may take anywhere from 10–20 minutes for your device to reach the highest oxygen purity levels. However, most oxygen concentrators will begin releasing small amounts of oxygen even during this warm-up phase. So it is ok to put your oxygen tubing on at this stage.

6. Adjust the Flow
Adjust the flow control to achieve the prescribed flow rate as ordered by your doctor.

7. Test for Flow
The easiest way to test for adequate flow coming out of the oxygen tubing is to cover the prongs of your cannula with a clean hand. As the pressure builds inside the tubing, quickly let it go. If your device is working correctly, you will hear and feel a gust of air once you release your hand from the prongs. If you do not hear or feel anything, check your connections for any loose pieces, leaks, or kinked tubing.

8. Check Alarms
Always check your alarms to make sure they are working correctly before using your concentrator. Although there are many possible alarms to learn about in your operator’s manual, the most critical alarms are the power loss and the no oxygen flow alarm.

9. Place Your Oxygen Tubing On
If you have not already placed your oxygen tubing on, now is the time to do so.

Additional Considerations for Portable Oxygen Concentrators

If you are using a portable oxygen concentrator, you will also need to consider how to charge your battery on the go. If you are driving, make sure you have a DC outlet adapter for your car. You can keep it plugged in a while driving to preserve your device’s battery life. Once you arrive at your destination, take a moment to find the nearest outlet so you can recharge your battery if necessary.
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