As was clear when Super Storm Sandy tore through the Eastern Seaboard, preparing for a weather-related power outage is just plain smart. Being prepared is especially important when you have a medical condition, such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).
If you're reliant on oxygen therapy equipment, a power outage could easily become more than a hardship. Here are some tips from the COPD International website to help you prepare for a prolonged outage.
- Alert your power company: Notify your utility service provider that you are on oxygen therapy and rely on electricity to power your equipment. Most electric companies try to prioritize customers with medical conditions when they restore power.
- Contact your oxygen provider: It is your oxygen provider’s responsibility to keep you stocked with enough oxygen to survive a weather emergency. One solution is for your oxygen provider to set up large compressed oxygen cylinders. Learn how long the cylinders will last, based on your flow rate.
- Prepare your oxygen: Invest in a battery-operated nebulizer, and know how to run it. If you use liquid oxygen, keep an adequate supply on hand. If you use compressed oxygen, know how to use your backup system. Find out if any emergency shelters in your area could aid you with your oxygen needs if you need to leave home.
- Keep supplies on hand: Emergency supplies – such as a battery-powered radio, flashlight, spare batteries and blankets – should always be on hand. Also make sure you have nonperishable food, bottled water, a manual can opener and enough medication to get through a prolonged power outage. A charged cell phone or a cordless phone can also be incredibly useful for getting in touch with friends and family.
Living with COPD, especially when you're on oxygen therapy, means making adjustments. It also means staying educated. To learn more about your diagnosis or the diagnosis of a loved one, download the free guide "COPD 101."