If you’re visiting Disney World and you use supplemental oxygen, apnea devices or nebulizers, there are some things you’ll want to know. I had the opportunity to speak with Charlie Diauto, formerly the Vice President of Burkley Oxygen Services in Kissimmee. We’ll share his tips as well as some of our own.
Traveling with apnea equipment and nebulizers:
Most people will travel with their own CPAP/BiPAP or APAP unit. We’ll call it CPAP for short. If you’re flying, always bring your CPAP and accessories on the plane as a carry-on. Don’t pack it in your suitcase since you run a big risk of losing it. To quote Charlie, “It’s one thing to forget your underwear, and another to forget your CPAP. If you pack it in your suitcase and it gets lost, you’re lost.” Be sure to pack all the items you’ll need such as your mask or tubing.
Going through airport security with your CPAP is permitted, but you’ll have to take your unit out of its carrying case to be inspected. First you’ll need to place the unit into a bin so that it can go through x-ray screening. You’re permitted to place the CPAP machine in a clear plastic bag so it can be kept clean, but you must supply the bag.
The CPAP unit will also have to go through a physical and visual inspection, and an Explosive Trace Detection sampling. The CPAP will be removed from the bag for this. Before the agent touches your unit, you have the right to request that they change their gloves, clean the table where the sampling will be conducted, and change the sampling media for the Explosive Trace Detection test. You can visit the TSA information page on taking your CPAP through airport security here:
Traveling with oxygen equipment:
You can not fly with your own oxygen tank. If you need oxygen on your flight, contact your airline to make arrangements. Keep in mind that airlines are not required to provide oxygen, and some do not. Make sure the airline you choose will provide oxygen if you need it. You’ll need to provide a prescription to the airline.
Some oxygen concentrators are permitted. For details on traveling with an oxygen concentrator visit the TSA site here: https://www.tsa.gov/travel/security-screening/whatcanibring/items/portable-oxygen-concentrators
Oxygen and breathing products providers:
We’ve found that several Orlando area oxygen providers are no longer in service. There are a couple of national companies with local offices that will provide services to their current patients, but if you’re not in their system, they’re not usually willing to work with you.
You can also contact your current oxygen supply company and/or your social worker to request a Disney-area company. They may be able to locate a company that would be appropriate for you, and they can pass on your prescription and all of your insurance information in advance. If someone else is making your arrangements, be sure to find out which company will be supplying you, and call in advance to confirm the date, location of delivery and the items to be delivered.
If you make arrangements yourself, have your doctor write you a new prescription and fax it to your Orlando supplier. It’s a good idea to carry a copy of your prescription on your trip just in case.
Here are the suppliers we could locate. Please remember that we’re not endorsing the following companies, but only giving you information for your research purposes.
Kissimmee Phone: 407-846-4144
This company services current Lincare patients traveling to this area.
This company services current Apria patients traveling to this area.
Equipment problems while at Disney World:
If you run out of oxygen or have a problem with your equipment, Disney can’t help you. They do have oxygen for emergencies, but they won’t service your equipment or fill your tank. To avoid any inconvenience, Charlie recommends that you plan carefully, conserve your oxygen and bring spare parts. Pack a travel kit that may include a backup regulator, an extra wrench, canula, exhalation valve, batteries for a portable oxygen concentrator, a washer for the regulator, extra medication and inhalers.
Just in case you do need service while in the parks, Charlie recommends that you always carry a cell phone. It will make it easier for your oxygen company to find you, and will give you the freedom to move around the park while you wait for them to come. If you don’t have a cell phone, you’ll need to wait in one place so they can find you.
In the past, Charlie has been called for service when it turned out that the switch associated with the equipment just had to be flipped on. While this may seem simplistic, if you use electrical breathing equipment in your hotel room, remember to turn on the switch associated with the outlet that you’re gear is hooked up to. If it still doesn’t work, try another outlet before deciding that your unit isn’t functioning properly. Also we’ve noticed that some outlets have become loose with use. The equipment may seem to be charging, but if bumped or even just from gravity, the plug can slip so it’s no longer charging.
Rides at Disney World with oxygen:
Charlie says that as long as your oxygen tank is bagged, Disney will allow it on many non-turbulent rides. For example, it should be permitted on Haunted mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean, but roller coaster rides such as Space Mountain won’t permit the equipment. He suggests that you can think about your breathing equipment as you would a camera. If Disney has posted a warning sign saying that all personal belongings must be secured, most likely you won’t be permitted to board with your oxygen tank.
Charlie believes that those on oxygen should use moderation when planning their days. He notes that oxygen levels drops the more you move, so take time to rest. Don’t overdo it. Dehydration can also be a problem for those using oxygen, take extra care with staying hydrated. Stay in the shade as much as possible and drink plenty of water.
I’d add that you may want to consider planning your trip during the cooler months, avoiding June through September. Even May and October can have some very hot, humid weather. While the rest of the year can have very warm weather, it tends to be less persistent, intense and humid. Even those with minor issues sometimes find breathing more difficult in the most hot and humid weather.
Keep in mind that if you’re renting an ECV, you’ll want to request one that has a place to hold your oxygen bottle. The Disney parks do not have ECVs with this feature, so renting from an outside company may be your best option. Also, once in the park, you can keep a spare tank at the First Aid Station.
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