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Having A Power Outage In The Middle of the Night

There are so many things to remember when you have a chronic illness.  Some things are within your control and other things. Not so much. Having a power outage in the middle of the night is one of those things that we do not have control over. Alleviating anxiety happens when I am prepared for these situations.

When the power goes out in the middle of the night

It was 2 am and the house was so quiet not even a mouse was stirring. Well, this is not entirely true; you see I sleep with a Bipap machine. I use it to release excessive carbon dioxide from my lungs because with COPD my lungs can’t do a good enough job on their own. This machine makes a slight noise as the pressures increase and decrease with the inhale and exhale of each breath.

My oxygen concentrator makes the loudest noise as it sucks air from the atmosphere and converts it to oxygen. It is directly beside my bed attached to my Bipap and I also sleep with a ceiling fan and a desktop fan, each providing its own white noise.

My first thought is my Bipap and oxygen concentrator

Suddenly the power goes off. My Bipap and concentrator start to scream alarms. I wake as if someone is in my room. My first reaction is to ‘overreact’ by waking my husband and making the most commotion I can. I am fighting to get my mask off and switch my Bipap to its battery backup but I can’t remember the steps. My fingers won’t move as they should and I begin to anticipate getting shorter of breath. If anxiety sets in there will be no turning back. My husband jumps out of bed, in search of an oxygen tank and the problems begin.

There is no light or flashlight within reach. The big tanks, meant for this very emergency, are rarely used so they are at the back of a batch of smaller tanks. Trying to get the big tank out means the smaller ones go crashing to the ground. Once he gets the tank out, he realizes that it has no regulator attached. I pass him the flashlight from my drawer and now he goes in search of a regulator. This leaves me in the dark again still fighting with my Bipap to get a battery backup working. The clocks are flashing and I don’t know what time it is.

Managing anxiety for better breathing

As I get settled again in bed, preparation begins because I realize that this drill was a failure and I begin coming up with a plan will alleviate my anxiety. I need to be able to do this, smoothly and without anxiety, even if my husband wasn’t there. Once we are back to bed, I begin to go through the steps of what went wrong and what could have been done differently.

  • Making sure to have a flashlight within arm’s reach loaded with fresh batteries.
  • This requires that I put one in the top drawer of every piece of furniture.
  • Keeping the large tank of 02 in a place that is easier to reach and having the spare regulator on it at all times.
  • When the power goes off the furnace goes off too so having extra blankets nearby really helps.
  • When the power goes off in the summer the air will also go off.  Keeping a battery operated fan on hand can help move the stale air.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The COPD.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

  • BeverlyDeMarco
    2 weeks ago

    Hi Kevin, I just received a Friend Request from you but don’t know how to get to you? Beverly DeMarco

  • BeverlyDeMarco
    2 weeks ago

    I worry about the power going off in the middle of the night also, I live alone so no one can help me get to the spare Oxygen tank .I will have to get extra Flashlights for all the rooms and a portable battery operated Fan. I keep my PORTABLE OXYGEN fully Charged in case Of a Power Outage. Don’t know what else to do if anyone can tell me what I need to do,! THANKYOU, Beverly DeMarco

  • Barbara Moore moderator author
    2 weeks ago

    Beverly, It sounds like you have a good plan already and doing all those things will make you ‘outage’ ready.
    Have a practice run while the power is on, like a fire drill, and go through the process.
    This will tell you if you are missing anything. Practice will ease your mind and alleviate your anxiety.
    Barbara Moore (Site moderator/ author)

  • Barbara Moore moderator author
    2 weeks ago

    If you live in a hurricane zone than there are services in place for people with chronic illness. Have a frank talk to your doctor and social services, long before it becomes and issue, about what measures to take and where to go. If you cannot find another solution than going to the hospital is a good idea. They will have all the meds you need at hand and the doctors if the situation gets out of hand.
    Please reply and let me know how you made out during the last hurricane.
    Barbara Moore (site moderator/ author)

  • Sashabear
    2 weeks ago

    Barbara, I didn’t mention that I am on a nebulizer several times a day. Again, cannot afford a portable one that might use batteries.

  • Sashabear
    2 weeks ago

    Barbara, What is the suggestion for someone living in a hurricane zone? Can’t afford generator support; meds have taken most of what I own. Do you just go and sit in a hospital?

  • Leon Lebowitz, BA, RRT moderator
    2 weeks ago

    Hi again, Beverly – I see you posted this very same concern in another inquiry and I was able to provide you with a reply there. For your convenience, here is the response (in quotes):
    “Hi Beverly, and thanks for your post. Based on your concern about power outages and hurricane season, I thought you might find it helpful and informative to look over this very recent article by our own Barbara Moore from June 8, 2019: https://copd.net/living/power-outage/. Whether an oxygen concentrator will work when powered by a portable generator will all depend on the size/output of the generator, the electrical requirements of the concentrator, and the other equipment that you are powering with the generator. You may want to check all this information out ahead of time so you can be certain you are prepared. All the best, Leon (site moderator)”
    Thanks, Leon (site moderator)

  • KevinDavitt
    2 weeks ago

    Barbara – “been there – done that”unfortunately.

    But thank you. All great suggestions!

    Kevin

  • Barbara Moore moderator author
    2 weeks ago

    It is so much easier to deal with when one can stay calm. For me that means knowing in advance what to do and what it will look like.
    My husband and I have done a few drills and I am thinking of having a bottle of 02 at my bedside to ease the steps. Barbara Moore (site moderator)

  • Barbara Moore moderator author
    2 weeks ago

    WOW! Leon that sounds like quite the tragedy. Three floods in 2 years is nothing to sneeze at.
    I cannot image having to go through that. Many are now suffering the results of global warming and water issues.
    So happy this was resolved and happy you found your, although rather expensive, solution. Barbara Moore (site moderator author)

  • Leon Lebowitz, BA, RRT moderator
    2 weeks ago

    Hi Barbara and Bob and thanks for this article (Barbara) and your comment (Bob).
    Back in 2012, after Hurricane Sandy hit the east coast, (and this was after Hurricane Irene (in 2011) and 1 inches of rain the same August that Irene hit, my wife and I resolved to never be in that situation again. We lost our ‘family cave’ basement three separate times in the span of only 2-years.
    After some expensive and exhausting rebuilding, we added a whole house generator to prepare for the future. Now, I believe we are well-prepped for the next 100-year storm. I do not want to live through that again!
    Leon (site moderator)

  • bob54
    2 weeks ago

    Whole new meaning to keeping your head above water. After third time your deductable must have been horrendous. Here on the other coast we await the big one maybe then we will finally have oceanfront property.Generator is good if you have that many issues.

  • Leon Lebowitz, BA, RRT moderator
    2 weeks ago

    Hi Bob, and thanks for joining in the conversation. Yes…we are now able to ‘keep our heads’ above water as you said (I got a chuckle out of that one!!). This generator, although expensive, (as Barbara mentioned), puts our minds at ease. We can still take in water, but the pumps will never be silenced again, due to loss of electricity. I viewed it as an ‘insurance policy’ – paying for something that I hope I won’t need. However, it’s already proved itself to be invaluable! I appreciate your concern. Regards, Leon (site moderator)

  • Leon Lebowitz, BA, RRT moderator
    2 weeks ago

    Hi Barbara – it was quite the challenge, that’s for certain. I see a typo in my story (above). The 1 inch of rain was actually 11 inches of rain which occurred only 2 weeks before Hurricane Irene hit.
    Looking back, I don’t know how we got through it, but we did. That is a story for another time.
    Thanks for your comment and concern, Barbara!
    Leon (site moderator)

  • Barbara Moore moderator author
    2 weeks ago

    WOW! Leon that sounds like quite the tragedy. Three floods in 2 years is nothing to sneeze at.
    I cannot image having to go through that. Many are now suffering the results of global warming and water issues.
    So happy this was resolved and happy you found your, although rather expensive, solution. Barbara Moore (site moderator author)

  • bob54
    2 weeks ago

    Thanks for your article Barbara
    Had to think about how to go to battery backup on my doodads as well,not even sure they still work.Have an older model ten plus years and have yet to have a power outage.Will test this today to see,you are absolutely right with an ounce of prevention.take care

  • Barbara Moore moderator author
    2 weeks ago

    Thank you for your positive comment. Circle back and let me know how you make out. Barbara Moore (site moderator /author)

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