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Emergency Information for Vent Users: Your Humidifier can Drown You!!

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  • Emergency Information for Vent Users: Your Humidifier can Drown You!!

    I'm not new to the vent, but am new to the trache. So maybe what I'm about to say is common knowledge to most ventilator users, but I thought I should post just in case it is not. The humidifier, used to moisten the air that circulates through my vent tubing, was not secured properly and got knocked over. Still connected, the water in the humidifier rushed through the tubing and into my trache. With such a large volume of water, and very little air, coming into my lungs, I was literally drowning. I was switched to my backup vent as soon as was possible, but, in the meantime, my oxygen saturation had dropped to 26% -- possibly even less! My caregivers ambu-ed and used the coughalator/exoflator machine (a suctioning device) almost incessantly for about two hours before my saturation returned to normal (having been in the 70s and 80s for most of this time). Thankfully, I'm fine now, but I wanted to warn everyone who uses a ventilator, and anyone who knows someone who uses a vent, of this very real danger.

  • #2
    Great advise. Always be prepared to suction and go back to that ambu bag and O2- and take it every where with you.
    The SCI-Nurses are advanced practice nurses specializing in SCI/D care. They are available to answer questions, provide education, and make suggestions which you should always discuss with your physician/primary health care provider before implementing. Medical diagnosis is not provided, nor do the SCI-Nurses provide nursing or medical care through their responses on the CareCure forums.


    • #3
      Good point.
      Sometimes a lot of condensation gets in the tube at night and sets off the high pressure alarm or makes a gurgling sound.
      We have tried a water trap which was worthless most of the time.
      I mostly try to position the hoses so if there is condensation it drains down.
      Sounds like it was a scarey situation.


      • #4
        That must have been very traumatic. I hope you're feeling better.

        Try to position the humidifier so it's below the level of your trach at all times. I don't know the capacity of your humidifier, but I think this is why they've lately switched to ones that hold less water.
        NYC Disability Forum (@DisabledNYC on Twitter)