Be Prepared (Part 1)

Editor's note: This is part 1 of a series. Don't forget to read part 2!

There’s no telling how long this pandemic is going to stay with us. Every day I pray all are protected, careful, and safe. But I think there are a few practical measures those of us with COPD may want to take that may not get mentioned in other articles we read about being prepared.

The most important element

First and foremost, for many – myself included – the most important element is oxygen. I use an oxygen concentrator at home, mostly for when I’m sleeping, but more so now because of the COVID-19. I use oxygen tanks (“D”-sized) for when I’m away from home or on the road. I use about 3-4 tanks a week depending on how active I am.

So, this past Monday – just as a precaution – I “upped” my usual order from 6 tanks to 8. With the blessing of my oxygen provider (and insurance company) I could have ordered 10 or 12 tanks. But, I do not want to be a hoarder.

There are so many hospitals near us who are extremely overcrowded and desperate for all kinds of supplies. I want to at least think that, while I can’t actually volunteer to help (which is frustrating), I won’t be responsible for anyone not being able to obtain whatever they need especially when their COPD or any lung dysfunction may be more severe than mine.

And with COVID-19, there is definitely that possibility.

When the power goes out

I try to shut the concentrator off as long as possible during the day, while not endangering my heart or lungs, so as to prevent a breakdown of the machine. While I can’t say I’ve ever had a complete breakdown of the concentrator, there have been malfunctions from time to time – and that’s where the oxygen tanks come in handy. Along with the “D” size tanks, I keep a few spare “E” size in the garage. These can be very handy in the event of a breakdown of the concentrator or electrical failure as has happened to me on a few occasions.

During Hurricane Sandy in 2012, here in the Northeast U.S., many trees were blown over by the fierce winds and subsequently took down power lines all over. It took a few days to have the electrical power restored. I can’t tell you how grateful I was that my wife had the foresight to order additional oxygen tanks at that time. I take no credit for that at all as much as it dismays me (lol). Which leads to another consideration – a home backup generator.

Backup generators

Backup generators are not cheap. The one we purchased was one of the more inexpensive ones ($500.00) we came across at our local “big box” home repairs store. But they can run into the thousands. The ideal ones (if you can afford them) can actually “kick-in” in the event of an electrical power failure and take over the electrical needs of the entire house.

The model we have can probably supply power for a number of lights, an electrical heater (if needed), and my oxygen concentrator. I’m thankful we have not had an actual emergency to use it but we sleep better knowing it’s there.

Some practical advice I got from the salesman when we bought ours: since the generator runs on gasoline, it’s wise to flush the old gas out from time to time to assist in quicker starts (our model uses a quick-pull rope starter to start the engine) and, if possible, refrain from adding fresh gas until actually needed.

“Now the darkness only stays the night-time
In the morning it will fade away
Daylight is good at arriving at the right time
It's not always going to be this grey..”

- George Harrison “All Things Must Pass”

Check out Be Prepared (Part 2)!

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