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The University of Chicago Medicine - Comer Children's Hospital

Things to Do Before Your Child Comes Home

Tell Key People

The following people should know that you have a child at home on oxygen and/or apnea monitor:

  • Your local fire department
  • The gas, electric, and telephone companies. Ask if they have a "priority service listing." Your home would receive priority in case of power or phone failures and repairs. Your physician, case manager, social worker, or home care company can assist with letters to these companies, if needed.
  • Neighbors and relatives that will be available in case you need assistance with your child or other children in an emergency

Prepare an Emergency Phone List

Put together an emergency phone number list to keep available at each phone, in your purse, and in your child's diaper/travel bag. This list should include:

  • Child's name, birth date, address, and phone number
  • Parent's names, and home and work phone numbers
  • Emergency contact name and phone (neighbor, grandparents)
  • Emergency phone for police or fire departments (i.e. 911)
  • Doctor(s) name, office address, and phone number
  • Home oxygen supply company and phone number
  • Home nursing agency (if appropriate) and phone number
  • Pharmacy name and phone number

Safety Proof Your Home

Taking the following precautions will ensure the safety of your child and other family members:

  • Do not smoke inside when oxygen is in use.
  • Do not cook over an open flame with your child is in your arms.
  • Do not use oil or grease on the oxygen equipment, your hands, or on your child. No Vaseline or baby oil; they are flammable.
  • Do not use hair dryers while oxygen is being administered.
  • Do not let your child sleep with electric blankets while on oxygen.
  • Store your oxygen in a safe/secure area--not in closets or areas that are not well ventilated.
  • Be careful of the hazard of tripping over the oxygen tubing.
  • All children should be supervised in the presence of any medical equipment. Some active children may tangle or wrap themselves in the tubing. Taping the tubing to the back of their shirt is helpful.
  • Be familiar with the oxygen equipment safety checks established by your equipment provider. Keep their telephone number handy. Do not repair broken equipment yourself. Leave it to the experts.
  • Keep your child and the oxygen equipment away from space heaters, fireplaces, humidifiers, and other heat sources.
  • Have a working smoke detector. Check the battery monthly. Make sure you have a fire extinguisher labeled "Type ABC."
  • For all electrical equipment, use a grounded outlet. If the outlet is not grounded, use a plug adapter.
  • In case of a fire, develop and practice a rescue plan and route of escape.

Think About Monitors

Apnea Monitor

Often infants and small children are placed on an apnea monitor while on oxygen. This is usually a precaution. If your child is in distress or stops breathing the monitor will alert you. This is usually not necessary once your child is old enough to communicate his or her needs. Ask your doctor whether or not you need this device.

Baby Monitor

It is usually helpful to have a baby monitor to use in your home to alert you to your child's needs. These can be purchased at your local baby stores or department stores. If your child is on an apnea monitor, a baby monitor does not replace it. It is an additional item that is helpful.

Create Teaching Sessions

Set up teaching sessions with your child's nurse and the home equipment supply company. You should have at least two peopleas back-ups in case you are ill, out for the day/evening, or are planning to return to work.

Make sure that you, your back-ups, and any additional caregivers--such as babysitters--know and understand the following information:

  • Oxygen equipment set up and trouble-shooting
  • CPR
  • How to feed a child on oxygen
  • How to position a child to help him or her breathe more comfortably
  • Bathing a child who is on oxygen and skin care issues, such as tape for nasal cannulas
  • What to do if a child appears to be in respiratory distress
  • Emergency plan--including, who to call, which ER to go to, and who will care for other children during this time, if appropriate
  • How to travel with oxygen--including, securing the oxygen tanks, precautions, packing a travel bag, and sufficient supply of oxygen for travel
  • No smoking in the home
  • How to use the fire extinguisher
  • Other oxygen safety precautions