COPD Emergency Supplies
Years ago when a power outage happened, it was an inconvenience. Now it is an anxiety-filled event because of COPD and oxygen use. Weather events have been increasing over the last few years, with storms also getting more powerful. Being prepared in advance reduces anxiety and can help get any of us through some difficult moments.
It is important to have extra medications on hand. You may not be able to get out to a pharmacy for a few days if there is a storm. Power outages can also slow mail delivery if you receive your prescriptions that way or pharmacies to be closed.
Many of my prescriptions are for ninety days. Unless the storm happens towards the end of that time period, I usually have enough. I also try to stockpile ahead, just in case. I can refill most of my prescriptions three to five days in advance. By doing this, I end up with an excess. I make sure I rotate my supply to keep them fresh.
I use a home concentrator, which many people on oxygen 24/7 have. A generator will keep this running, which I have done for overnight use. I fill my own travel tanks. I make sure they are always filled. They make good backups and I can refill again because of the generator. The oxygen supply company also allows me an additional large tank, which will last me through the night.
There are different generator setups, from units that will power an entire home that automatically come on and run on gasoline or propane, to small units that are also gas-powered or solar-powered. If you cannot afford or operate a generator, talk to your supply company and find out what options are available to you. If you have a portable concentrator, make sure you know how long the batteries last and how they can be charged.
Other useful gadgets
A portable power station is a handy unit to have. I discovered them through a friend that camps and uses it to charge their phones and run a CPAP machine. I don't own one yet, but it is on my wish list. They run off a lithium battery and can also be recharged with a solar panel designed for it. They vary in price and size and are safe to use indoors.
When I am short of breath, having a fan blow on me seems to help. I have ceiling fans in my home, so when there is a power outage, I can't sleep and the room feels stuffy. I purchased a couple of battery operated fans that can be recharged with a USB port. They are personal fan size and will not cool an entire room, but helps when sitting close to it or on my nightstand.
A heated blanket that uses inserted warming packets has kept me from freezing during a few power outages. I first found out about this from my niece. She uses one when she goes to football games as well as chilly nights camping. If it is very cold, I have used this as a base blanket and a second one over that to keep more heat in.
The camping department is a wonderful place to get ideas for what is available, as well as survival type websites. With COPD, I feel the first items to have are additional medicine, oxygen if needed, and a way to stay cool and warm. I use LED tap lights for lighting and also have solar lights outdoors, which can be brought in at night. Make a list of what your health necessities are to be safely prepared in an emergency.
Editor's Note: We are heartbroken to share that Carol passed away in February of 2022. Carol's storytelling and advocacy will be deeply missed, but her legacy lives on through her articles and in all the people she inspired.