CPAP Therapy and Weather Emergencies

November 1, 2020
Avatar for Kelley MingusKelley Mingus

If you use traditional continuous positive airway therapy (CPAP) to treat your sleep apnea, you may not have considered what you’d do with your CPAP machine in an emergency situation. With hurricane season in full swing, winter approaching, and wildfires raging in certain areas, there is always the potential for needing to evacuate your home. But what about your CPAP machine?

A recent study from the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine found that in hurricane emergencies, patients were frequently unable to use their CPAP machines due to many factors. These factors included loss of electricity, forgetting, or having to leave the CPAP unit behind when being required to evacuate their home, and other situations that arose from the hurricane.

In fact, in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine study, following Hurricane Irma, almost 80% of CPAP users could not use their CPAP treatment for an average of 4.3 days, causing 64% of the patients off their CPAP therapy to snore. Another 19% experienced choking during sleep, and 42% experienced tiredness during the daytime hours.

Of the 117 patients surveyed, the major cause of no CPAP therapy was a loss of electricity, while others cited lost equipment and some said there was no power source available at the shelters they were temporarily housed at.
While we may not experience weather events like hurricanes here, we can still experience inclement weather which could cause the loss of power. This is something to consider when it comes to CPAP therapy. Do you have a backup plan if your power goes out or you need to evacuate? As we saw from the participants in the study, leaving sleep apnea untreated, even for a few days, can be very dangerous.
This is just one more reason that using a sleep appliance is a better option. Not only are sleep appliances more comfortable, but they are also more portable, and can be worn anywhere, without the need for a power source.
If you are interested in learning more about sleep appliances and the difference they can make in your sleeping and waking life, please contact Dr. Mingus’ office to schedule a consultation.