Living with Oxygen
What are the most common sources of oxygen available for use in the home?
There are a few options available for oxygen sources to use in your home. Your chILD’s oxygen needs, your insurance provider, and local availability will determine which you will have available. Oftentimes, you will be supplied with a concentrator or liquid oxygen system, and will also be given oxygen tanks for emergencies and travel.
Oxygen concentrators are mostly electric and plug into a wall outlet, though there are some smaller portable oxygen concentrators (POCs) now on the market (Inogen One, Sequal Eclipse, etc.). These can be useful for travel. Oxygen concentrators pull in air from the room, separate the oxygen in the air from other gases, and give almost pure oxygen to your child (leaving plenty for the room). Some concentrators are large (about the size of a kitchen trashcan) and stay put, though they can be moved. In case of power failure, a backup oxygen tank may be needed.
Oxygen tanks hold oxygen in gas form under high pressure. They come in many sizes. Large tanks stay put and can be used in place of an oxygen concentrator. Small tanks are for travel. Small tanks often need a key to open them. It would be wise to have many keys. Attach one to the tank or its holder. Put a key in your diaper bag, on your key ring, or in your car. Because of the high-pressure contents, a tank becomes a missile if the neck is broken or cracked. Oxygen tanks should be stored in their holders or lying flat. When driving with oxygen, secure the tanks on the floorboard. Don’t let them roll around. Don’t store them in the trunk. Your DME vendor can tell you how long your full tank will last at varied flow rates.
Liquid oxygen systems are handy but costly. You can refill small, lightweight liquid oxygen tanks from a big tank kept in your home. Filling them is easy, though care must be taken to prevent freeze burns since liquid oxygen is stored in a state of extreme cold. Liquid oxygen may not last as long as oxygen in a tank because it leaks out, little by little, as a vapor. Liquid oxygen is not available in all areas.