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COPD and Portable Oxygen Therapy

Day Trips and Eating Out With Portable Oxygen

Even with oxygen therapy, you can go to restaurants, shopping malls, movie theaters, symphonies, religious gatherings, and other places. Again, to have a successful day trip with portable oxygen, abide by the rules of safety when traveling with oxygen:

  1. Check the tank before leaving home to make sure you have enough oxygen -- enough for the trip to and from the destination, plus extra.
  2. Make sure your oxygen equipment works well.
  3. When you arrive at your destination, do not sit in smoking areas or get near smokers.
  4. Ask to have any candles removed from your table in restaurants.

Cruising With Portable Oxygen

Before you make reservations for a cruise, talk with the cruise line personnel. Ask about the ship’s policies for bringing portable oxygen. Sometimes, supplemental oxygen is provided on the ship. If not, you’ll need to bring plenty of oxygen to last the entire cruise, plus extra.

You may be able to get oxygen refills when the ship docks at each port of call, but ask ahead of time to be sure.

Also, take the appropriate electrical conversion devices for your portable oxygen equipment. While the cruise ships from the U.S. may use standard electrical outlets, converters are especially important to bring when traveling outside the United States.

Air Travel With Oxygen

Many people with COPD must use in-flight supplemental oxygen during air travel. To be able to do this, you will need to make arrangements ahead of time. Here are some guidelines to help you make the trip easier:

  • Ask the airline about policies on using portable oxygen when you first make your reservation.
  • Find out which portable oxygen concentrators are approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for use on the flight. Your airline must approve the type of portable oxygen you use in order for you to bring it with you.
  • If you don’t have the FAA approved type of container, ask your oxygen provider if you can rent an FAA-approved portable oxygen concentrator.
  • Try to get a nonstop or direct flight to alleviate worries about layovers or missing a connecting flight.
  • Contact the airlines again 48 hours before takeoff. Remind them that you’re traveling with oxygen. Some airlines must inspect the oxygen tank 48 hours ahead of the flight to approve its use on the plane. Other airlines may provide oxygen to use on the plane for a fee.
  • Contact your insurance company to see if you need supplementary coverage for traveling with oxygen during your flight.
  • Get a prescription for supplemental oxygen from your physician and keep this with you -- always. This prescription should verify the need for in-flight oxygen and also give specifics on how long oxygen should be used and on the oxygen flow rate. The airlines may have their own forms for your physician to fill out -- so be sure to get these filled out early.
  • At your doctor’s discretion, you may need an increase in the oxygen flow rate during air travel. Be sure you talk to your doctor about this so you have no discomfort breathing when flying at high altitudes.
  • The airlines may require you to bring ample batteries to power your POC. Make sure your battery lasts 50% longer than the total time of your trip -- from the time you leave your home until you arrive at your final destination. You don’t want to have any gaps in getting necessary oxygen for COPD.

The U.S. Department of Transportation has mandated that all airlines that arrive or depart in the U.S. must permit travelers with portable oxygen to use it on flights globally. The portable oxygen concentrators must be tested and meet FAA requirements. Ask your travel agent how this might affect you and your upcoming flights.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Varnada Karriem-Norwood, MD on September 20, 2012

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