As the holidays inch closer, more loved ones are hitting the road to spend time with family. Thanks to portable oxygen concentrators (POCs), traveling to a family member’s home to join in on holiday fun is easier than ever for those with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).
To make the most of your holiday travel this season, consult with your physician before your trip and follow these tips:
Practice Breathing Techniques
Before leaving your home, familiarize yourself with techniques and exercises that will help you breathe easier.
Take All Necessary POC Supplies
Ensure the battery in your portable oxygen concentrator and its supplemental battery are fully charged. Also bring your DC (car) power adapter for charging during the drive, your AC (wall outlet) power adapter to plug in once you arrive at your destination and the phone number of your oxygen supplier. Downloading and printing the free guide “8 Signs & Symptoms of a COPD Spell” may also be beneficial for your family in case of emergencies.
Avoid Cigarette Smoke & Outdoor Fumes
Never smoke when using your portable oxygen concentrator, and do not allow others to smoke in the car (or in the home) with your concentrator. If you’re traveling by car, always refrain from traveling during high traffic times to avoid breathing in fumes from other cars. If your vehicle is able to avoid bustling holiday traffic, keep your window open a crack to allow air to ventilate.
Ask About Cleaning
Oftentimes, to make the best impression, hosts will clean their homes from floor to ceiling before holiday guests arrive. The practice can be beneficial for those with COPD (especially when it comes to clearing dust from the air ducts and carpet), but it can also be harmful. Certain aerosols and spray cleaners can contribute to airway irritation and exacerbate COPD systems. To avoid the risk of lung irritation, ask family members to stick with simple cleaning products like bleach, vinegar and water.
Keep the Fireplace Off
Wood-burning fireplaces are a homey holiday touch, but they can exacerbate COPD symptoms. Ask your host to keep the fireplace off before and while you’re visiting.
Ask Family Members to Remove Candles
Holiday candles with strong fragrances may help set the festive mood for others, but they can be a serious irritant for those with COPD. Ask your host to remove any strong holiday candles or diffusers. If your host opts for unscented candles, keep your oxygen concentrator far from the open flame. Also be sure to keep your oxygen concentrator far from any other open flames, like those from the stove.
Skip the Shopping
It may be a tradition with your family to hit the stores in search of gifts, but stores can be overwhelmingly crowded during the holiday shopping season. To keep your stress low and breathing steady, skip the family shopping trip and opt to shop online instead.
For more tips on traveling with oxygen, including traveling by airplane and cruise ship, download “Traveling with Oxygen Made Easy,” a free guide from Do More With Oxygen.