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Do’s and Don’ts of Traveling with Oxygen

If your doctor has prescribed supplemental oxygen, there is no need to feel that you will never be able to leave your home again. There are many options when it comes to portable oxygen delivery these days. Traveling with oxygen, whether just around town to shop or visit the doctor or family, or to travel more long distance, can still be done, even if you must use oxygen on a continuous basis.

You might find it daunting or even scary to travel with oxygen, but by following your oxygen supplier’s directions and these few safety precautions, it doesn’t have to be!

Do’s and Don’ts of Using Portable Oxygen

First, be sure to review our article on The Do’s and Don’ts of Using Supplemental Oxygen at Home. There are many general safety tips in that article that will also apply when you are using portable oxygen. This post will only cover tips that apply specifically to traveling with oxygen.

Just as with home oxygen delivery systems, portable oxygen can be supplied in the form of gas cylinders (small, green, bullet-shaped tanks), liquid oxygen tanks or battery or electric-powered concentrators.

Do’s

  • DO fill the portable tank carefully, if using liquid oxygen. Liquid oxygen is extremely cold and can injure your hands, if frost should develop.
  • DO carry your portable tank only in the case supplied with it.
  • DO use a cart or holster to carry portable oxygen cylinders.
  • DO keep your oxygen delivery system out of the bright sunlight or other heat sources.
  • DO secure your tank, cylinder or portable concentrator so it does not roll around in the car. Liquid tanks should never be laid on their sides; portable cylinders may be.
  • DO bring extra batteries to power your concentrator in case of emergency.
  • DO allow time to make arrangements for your oxygen needs when traveling long distance, especially if it will be by plane. Each airline has their own policies and procedures for traveling with oxygen. If traveling by car or train, you might need to arrange both portable and a more long-lasting oxygen supply. These arrangements can be discussed with your oxygen supplier.
  • DO be aware that high altitudes, whether flying or just driving in the mountains, can increase your need for supplemental oxygen. Discuss how to handle this with your doctor, for example, increasing flow rate slightly for a period of time.

Don’ts

  • DON’T put a portable tank inside a backpack or other carry bag.
  • DON’T place your tank, cylinder or portable concentrator in a car trunk or other tightly enclosed space.
  • DON’T overlook the fact that portable oxygen tanks can only carry a finite amount of oxygen. Depending on your flow rate, that supply may not last more than a few hours. If that is not sufficient for your needs, you may want to consider using a portable concentrator.

The main thing to remember when traveling with oxygen around town or for a distance is to make a plan in advance. Don’t get caught short or unprepared!

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.

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