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Traveling with Oxygen


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Sadly, my sister and I are planning a trip down to Virginia (from Pennsylvania) to visit my uncle, who has extensive sclc and doing very badly, and my mother (had a lower right lobectomy in March and is on oxygen) wants to come with us but is afraid to travel too far with oxygen tanks.

Other than keeping them out of the trunk and in an upright position, are there other precautions we can/should take?

I'm hoping to convince her to just bring her oxygen compressor along so we can limit the number of portable tanks we need to carry in the car. I think we (mostly mom) all fear that there will be some big explosion if we are in an accident. Is this true?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated...thanks!

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i have traveled often with it.Strap it in back seat and secure with seatbelt.Alot of the O2 suppliers also have connections in the area were you are going to.They have made arrangements to have it there or refillable if need be.

Flying is a whole different matter.The airline will remove you of any O2 and supply you with there's.End of destination they will return the O2 back to you.

God luck and enjoy.It has always been worth while any hassles being able to get out and go.

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I never had much luck travelling well with those portable O2 tanks (and mom's travel was local stuff); even upright, I'd have those things suddenly start releasing pressurized O2 on their own -- I think that was due to the summertime temps and the pressure in the tanks changing accordingly (quality of supplier equipment could have played a role too). You shouldn't have that problem this time of year though.

Doing as much as you can with a portable compressor is a good idea -- we didn't have that option because mom's O2 requirement was too high for the portables. Frank has a great idea of perhaps being able to have your supplier network options for you of picking up portables to meet your anticipated needs along your journey/destination point.

It's a myth that you will just explode in an accident with portable oxygen (as far as I ever found out from folks like EMTs/fire dept. folks who carry and use the stuff all the time). However, what leaking oxygen does is act as an accelerant in the event of a fire.

I would ask your O2 supplier and/or your local fire department about any wise precautions you should take for your long road trip.


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I am a Respiratory Therapist and have worked with oxygen tanks for many years. The tanks do not explode! They must be secured so that they do not get knocked over. What can happen is that if the top of the tank (the stem that sticks out)were to be broken off, the tank would immediately release the pressurized oxygen and the tank would fly off like a missile damaging whatever was in its path until it was completely empty. I agree with Frank that you should try to make arrangements with your supplier to get refills at your destination and only transport enough to get you there. Good Luck and enjoy the trip!


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Thank you all for your ideas and suggestions, and easing my and my mom's mind! I had no idea that we could get the supplier to have oxygen delivered to our destination, thanks Frank! I definitely feel more confident about the trip now, and hopefully mom will have less fear now and decide that she make the trip too! Thanks again.

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Mom got an Inogen One system, and it has given her so much freedom! She can even take it on an airplane (with lots of prior paperwork filled out). It is basically a mini-compressor, and it has a car adaptor as well as a wall plug for it. Its battery holds about a 2.5 hour charge.

I can't say enough good things about it. It took a bit to get used to wheeling it around, but it is small and managable enough for Mom to load it in and out of her car on her own. It has been wonderful for us, and Medicare paid for it.

:) Kelly

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