Know Safety. No Accidents. 8 Safety Tips for People with Lung Conditions.
When managing a lung condition, it is easy to get in the habit of attending to the day to day hurdles that come up. We often neglect to think ahead about things that we can do to prevent safety concerns from arising. I know many of you may be thinking that falls and fires couldn’t happen to you, but it’s like the old saying goes “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” and I believe that when you have a lung condition you don’t need to complicate your health any further by adding a preventable accident to your health history. Can you imagine having to heal from a broken shoulder or a broken hip all the while managing your breathlessness? Injuries like broken bones cause you to be “laid up” for weeks and can be detrimental or fatal to someone who has a lung condition.
Here are my recommendations for 8 Safety Tips for People with a Lung Condition.
1. Consider having a medical alert button and if not, keep your cell phone handy. I have mentioned this several times in past blog posts that having the ability to easily call for help, gives you and your loved ones peace of mind. Keep emergency phone numbers handy. Always have a current list of medications available in your wallet or purse along with emergency contact information. I also recommend that if you have a living will or an advance directive that you have a copy on file at your local medical center as well as make sure your emergency contact knows where to find this information in your home.
2. Fire Prevention. Make sure you have several fire extinguishers located around your home and KNOW HOW TO USE THEM. You may just want to take a quick minute and read the instructions. This may surprise you, but many people don’t know exactly how to use a fire extinguisher and you aren’t going to have time in an emergency to read the directions and figure it out. Make sure you have smoke detectors installed and are working properly. Never overload outlets and extension cords with medical equipment and any other electrical device. If you smoke, do not smoke while lying in your bed.
3. Check your equipment and perform routine maintenance. Check the cords on your concentrators, nebulizers, and CPAP machines. Never use any medical equipment that has a plug or cord that is fraying. Most home medical equipment should often have preventive maintenance performed. We would all like to believe that home care companies keep track of this (and some do) but most home care companies are bogged down and don’t have a fool proof way of making sure everyone’s medical equipment is checked on a routine basis. Most concentrators and CPAP machines need filter changes and other maintenance. If this isn’t done, it can affect the machines output and efficacy to work properly. Check your device’s manufacturer recommendations and see when your machine might be due for a “check-up.”
4. Oxygen safety. Remember to keep all supplemental oxygen away from flames. Never smoke while on oxygen. If you have oxygen tanks in your home. Store them in carts or a rack. Lay them down on their side if you do not have a rack or cart to place them in. Never leave them freely standing because it can be a safety hazard if they should fall over and be damaged. Replace oxygen tubing periodically. Be aware that it can become brittle after extended use and could crack or puncture easily. These cracks or punctures can often times be hard to see and you may not notice that there is an issue. (In fact this problem could cause you to feel like you are getting worse and not recognize it is a medical equipment issue.)
5. Remove obstacles and trip hazards. For many people with lung conditions whom wear oxygen, managing the tubing that they need is enough of a trip hazard to contend with. Remove or secure any throw rugs that tend to scoot or slide. Remove any obstacles or clutter around your living space that could make it difficult to walk around. If you use a rollator or walker, make sure your walkways and hallways are easily passable. Ask guests and family members to put shoes and other clutter away to prevent trips.
6. Wear properly fitting shoes. Women you should stick to wearing low heels or flats. No flip flops or loosely fitting clogs that could cause you instability while walking. If you need a cane or walker, be sure to have a healthcare practitioner correctly measure and fit you for these assistive devices. They will not give you the support you need if they are too high or too low. Remember after standing, to make sure you aren’t light headed before you start moving around. Pace yourself and do not rush while walking around. Going too fast can easily make you breathless. Use hail rails when climbing or descending a set of stairs. I recommend utilizing breathing techniques while taking each step up.
7. Clean your nebulizer and mouthpiece. After each use, your nebulizer and mouthpiece should be rinsed out with warm water and dried. After your last treatment of the day, you should wash it out with warm soapy water using a mild detergent and then dry it. Every 3rd day, you should soak your nebulizer and mouthpiece in a one part vinegar/three parts water solution, rinse and dry thoroughly. Never store your nebulizer and mouthpiece wet. You do not need to clean the tubing. The tubing should just be replaced when it starts to become hard and less pliable.
8. Safety in the bathroom. Install grab bars by the toilet, bathtub, and shower. Have a rubber bath mat in the floor of bathtubs and showers to prevent slipping. Make sure bathroom rugs have a nonslip backing and don’t move when stepped on. As I mentioned before in my bathing blog, use a shower seat if you get breathless while bathing. Also, have a chair or somewhere to sit down in the bathroom if you need to take a break when grooming and catch your breath. I recommend leaving a dim light or night light on in the bathroom at night so that you can see easily and aren’t navigating around in the dark if you need to make restroom visits.
Do you have any other suggestions to make homes safer for people with lung conditions? Please feel free to share them in the comments below. I would love to hear your ideas that I can share to other BreatheLiveFit readers!
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