The power of oxygen - Being prepared for outages and other emergencies
If you or someone you know uses supplemental oxygen for a health condition, it is important to be prepared in case of an outage or other emergency. It is common to have an oxygen concentrator in the home to eliminate the need for bulky and inconvenient oxygen tanks. A noticeable downside, however, is the need for electrical power. This dependence could turn a routine power issue into a life-threatening situation. It is important to know your condition and be prepared.
The most important thing an oxygen user needs to know is their level of dependence. Supplemental oxygen use is common for issues ranging from sleep apnea to lung cancer. An oxygen user needs to consider if their condition needs constant oxygen or supplemental oxygen at certain parts of the day. It’s important to know how long it is safe to be without oxygen and plan accordingly.
Clay Electric Co-operative is proud of the reliability of its system, but outages happen. If 24/7 oxygen use is a medical requirement, a plan needs to be in place should the power go out. So, what do you need to do?
Inform your power provider.
Clay Electric Co-operative keeps files on known oxygen users and other members with medical conditions that need to be a priority during an outage situation. In the event of a major outage, crews will attempt to prioritize restoration of members with existing medical issues. We cannot do this if we do not know about the medical need.
Plan for a back-up.
Many oxygen concentrators have battery backups. Having extra charged batteries around is a simple way to get through the more routine short outages that happen from time to time. Know how long your concentrator can run on battery backup so you can plan accordingly.
Installing an electric generator has many positives for our members. Maintaining power during an outage situation with a properly installed generator backup lets our members continue with their lives uninterrupted. Emergency generators come in many shapes and sizes with many features. Understanding how your generator functions and maintaining it is as important as having it. If the power goes off and there’s no gas in the generator, you might as well not have one.
The simplest backup plan is to have a supply of oxygen tanks. Many individuals that use oxygen already have a few for travel. Having a few filled oxygen tanks can get you through most short-term outages. Medical gasses are very stable, so the FDA does not require they be labeled with expiration dates. It’s important, however, to check the gauge and valve regularly to make sure there is no damage to the mechanism or leaks. Most medical supply companies will label tanks with how many minutes they will last, if your tanks aren’t labeled this way, it is encouraged that you mark the tank yourself. Always remember that oxygen is a flammable gas and must be kept away from open flames, gas and smoke.
Be ready to make medical adjustments.
While not optimal, in an emergency it might be necessary to reduce your oxygen flow rate to increase the longevity of your supply. You should talk to your doctor about what is safe for you to do in an emergency. If you need to conserve oxygen, it is important to stay calm and reduce strenuous activity as much as possible.
Find a support team.
If you have a diagnosis that makes you reliant on medical devices, you should have a group of people to call should an emergency arise. They can be family, friends, co-workers, or neighbors so long as they are willing to lend a hand. They should be nearby so they can get to you quickly if the need arises.
You should plan to be able to move if needed. Have a list of what you need to take with you should you have to go. Travel oxygen, medications, etc. It’s also a good idea to have written instructions on how to operate your oxygen device should someone helping you need to set it up.
Your cooperative is dedicated to its membership. As your trusted energy partner, we need to know if you need priority power restoration. Please contact Clay Electric Co-operative if you are oxygen dependent or otherwise have a medical diagnosis that requires powered machinery to treat. Your safety is our number one priority.