How to travel with portable oxygen – practice makes perfect!

In: Traveling with Oxygen

6 Oct 2010

Something to consider when traveling on oxygen, by boat, plane, train, or car…how long do your portable oxygen concentrator batteries really last for you? …and how do you know? In previous posts we have looked at traveling on an airplane and figuring how many batteries to bring to make you and the airline happy:

I’m going on a plane, how many batteries for my POC?

It is all very good advice, bring one and a half times the travel time in battery life.  If your total trip is 6 hours and your portable concentrator battery calculation is one battery lasting about 4 hours, you would need two batteries.

Something all Portable Oxygen Concentrator users should consider is what isyour individual  battery usage on your specific portable oxygen concentrator. Keep in mind that a number of factors can impact your BPM, exertion, food intake, altitude, anxiety, etc.  The average person’s BPM is typically listed anywhere from 12 to 15.  All manufacturers of portable oxygen concentrators have estimated battery run times for their concentrators based on BPM, or breaths per minute,  using typical BPM of 12 to 15 times each minute that the average person takes a breath. Keep in mind typical means at rest, sitting, not walking around, not going through airport security, not being nervous about getting on a plane. Hmmm.

For the average person on oxygen therapy, that is a person who requires oxygen, the number of breaths per minute is probably higher than the BPM used to calculate portable oxygen run times by your manufacturer.  For this reason I have a simple yet valuable suggestion, made even simpler if you are already the proud owner of a portable oxygen concentrator, perform a personal battery life test. First, make sure you have a supplemental power supply handy, either an external power supply, AC or DC, or a fresh battery,we don’t want you running out of oxygen now!   Second, make sure you have a fully charged battery if you have a SeQual Eclipse, Devilbiss iGo, Invacare Solo2, or Invacare XPO2,  or two fully charged batteries if you have a Respironics EverGo. Just a side note, the SeQual Eclipse, Devilbiss iGo, Invacare Solo2, and Invacare XPO2 have dual batteries inside what looks like one battery.     Set a stop watch and get started, even just roaming around your home could be fine.  How many breaths are you taking each minute?  If the average person is 12 to 15, maybe you are 20BPM, perhaps you are a shallow breather? Maybe you are  a mouth breather, which doesn’t do you much good with that cannula in your nose!  The point is to get a baseline for your personal breath rate and subsequently your portable oxygen concentrators battery life.  How long did the battery last?  Now you have a better idea of the your individual battery consumption while on portable oxygen.

If your portable oxygen concentrator has an estimated battery life of 5 hours at a pulse setting of 2 with the average BPM rate of 12 used for the calculation, and you have a determined you take 24 breaths per minute, or twice the average, you can make some conclusions.  Namely, since your BPM of 24 was twice that of the BPM used to calculate the portable oxygen concentrator run time,  you will run through the batteries twice as fast.  So in this instance, the battery life for your BPM would be 2.5 hours as opposed to 5 hours. The best thing you can do is practice on your portable concentrator, so you know what your actual battery run time will be.

If you do not own a portable oxygen concentrator, and are renting one for a trip, my recommendation is to bring one extra battery beyond what you may have calculated you would need to account for the variable of BPM.

One more thing to consider when you are planning a trip with your portable oxygen concentrator is this, how good are my batteries?  What percentage of their original capacity are your batteries at now?  As batteries are used, stored, charged and recharged, their capacity begins to degrade.  We’ll look at battery capacity in a future post.

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If you have any questions about oxygen concentrators, liquid oxygen, portable oxygen, you have come to the right place. Whether you are lookiing to buy a POC, rent a POC for a trip, or understand how what that alarm means, you have come to the right place. Since 1992 we have immerseed in all things Oxygen Therapy, here you will find not only a users perspective, you will find the technicians perspective! Welcome!!