Is this a dumb idea?

With hospitals overrun with COVID-19 patients and only a limited number of ventilators available, they will start deciding who gets them based on the greatest chance of survival. With multiple strikes already against me (65+, diabetes, kidney problems), I’m concerned I wouldn’t stand much of a chance to get one.

Would an oxygen generating machine for home use help out? There are machines called oxygen concentrators that work not by connecting to a tank of oxygen, but rather work by sucking in the surrounding air, compressing it, and extracting nitrogen and other impurities. This provides an oxygen-rich supply of air for the user.

With one of the major symptoms of this virus being difficulty in breathing, it seems that this should help. What am I missing here? Note - I think a Dr. Rx is required to get one of these.

No, this won’t work. The main purpose of ventilators is not to provide an oxygen-rich supply of air. They could do that with a simple nasal cannula, no need for an expensive ventilator. The purpose of ventilators is to assist your breathing. These ventilators pump air into the lungs under a pressure carefully adjusted to the patient’s needs, to ensure that the air supplied is also inhaled by the patient. No home-made device can do that. You would probably severely damage your lungs. Even ventilators can take a serious toll on patient’s lungs.


It’s not a dumb idea. I don’t know if it would work. I was running through the same idea of other possibilities when they first started talking about shortages in ventilators and I wonder if why a CPAP machine couldn’t at least help things. (I am not the world’s expert on things mechanical) but the concept seemed similar. A week or so ago I read that the FDA stated:
“Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP), auto-CPAP, and bilevel positive airway pressure (BiPAP or BPAP) machines typically used for treatment of sleep apnea (either in the home or facility setting) may be used to support patients with respiratory insufficiency provided appropriate monitoring (as available) and patient condition.”

So I wasn’t too far off the mark…
NOTE: If anyone has such devices, I would ask your prescribing doctor about this. DO NOT DO ANYTHING ON YOUR OWN.

With regards to your question, I know what you mean. I’m not sure how it would improve things. I don’t think it would necessarily improve things unless you were sick and then I think it would only be an improvement in that more purified air would be easier to breath and reduce stress on lungs. ??? (That is pure speculation on my part).

For that matter, i wonder if putting “milder” cases in oxygen tents would help things too??? Take the stress of the lungs early on so that maybe they won’t get as bad??? (Again, pure speculation on my part).

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Yes, Ventilators are providing ‘mechanical’ ventilation, like Boerenkool say. O2 is also very flammable. Don’t play with O2. If your a smoker, MarlboroNick, you absolutely cannot be setting up home brew oxygen. DO NOT do that. You will start your house on fire.

You can’t get sick if you don’t go out. Stay home.

If your on a vent, your really in bad shape. I, personally, would be fine, at 39, saying just let me die before you put me on a vent. Its a common medical directive. But, I wouldn’t worry about it I were you. There are lots of things to try before you go for the ventilator option. You are putting the cart before the horse.

If your having trouble breathing, they can do other things to help.

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I never heard of ann oxygen concentrator, but asked someone who was in the area when I read this, not a doctor but in the medical field. She said that oxygen concentrators are pretty “weak sauce” and only provide minimal improvement. Since we’re at 8,000 ft, she said they couldn’t even get us to a sea level equivalence. It sounds like expensive equipment for not a lot of benefit.

I agree completely with @mohe0001. The hospital is going to try lots of other options if breathing is getting worse before trying a ventilator. A ventilator is for people who literally cannot breathe on their own. That’s why they die without one.

I think the best course of action for those of us in high-risk groups is to stay home. Self-isolate, even.

I see a lot of people using the terms social distancing, self-isolate, and quarantine interchangeably, but they’re not the same. Self-isolation means you have NO contact with the outside world, no walks or grocery runs. You get people to deliver anything you need and drop it at the door so you have no contact with them. The only difference between self-isolation and quarantine is that the latter actually have symptoms or confirmation of COVID-19 while the former are doing it as a precaution.

Everyone who is saying they are “self-isolating” but going for walks or to the grocery store when necessary are not self-isolating, but rather social distancing (which everyone should be doing). The less contact you have with other people the less chance you have of catching the virus.


I call it hermitizing. We are not going out and about except if we absolutely had too. In our case that meant one trip to the grocery store. That has been only once in the last 2 weeks for goat yogurt for our dog. They only had so much on hand to prestock enough. So we have about 3 more weeks worth now.

The one really bad thing in our area is we don’t have grocery delivery and we don’t have very many food restaurants that deliver in our area either. And they might be all closed. (And probably don’t have vegan food anyway)

Any walks or beach trips can be done in our area without getting near anyone else. You just walk on the other side of the street if you do end up seeing someone, and more people are walking now. But I am in a very small community area with lots of areas to walk or hike. And you can find a beach with no one on it or at least down the beach a ways. They just don’t want any gathering on the beaches of people in any kind of group. I’m sure a family (only residents) is probably okay. You have to keep moving and can’t sunbathe or read a book etc.

We actually have 2200 people in quarantine right now in the state since last week with the requirement that if you land on the islands you have to go into quarantine for 14 days. Residents that traveled or visitors. (why are we still getting any visitors??, or for that matter anyone traveling???) They aren’t even allowed to leave for food. They are actually calling them everyday to make sure they stay in their rooms etc.

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What about a $25 oxygen sensor? At least you can determine if you need to go to ER.

Your best bet is to avoid getting sick. Stay home. Get someone else to shop for you. Keep your immune system healthy by adding in Vitamin D (sunshine) and getting plenty of rest.


Regarding your idea of an oxygen concentrator: My suspicion is that would be adequate if you had a mild case of COVID-19 where your blood oxygen levels were mildly depressed. That would likely be roughly equivalent, I suspect, to a “normal” oxygen-supplied cannula that they might use if you were NOT in the ICU and were only experiencing mildly labored breathing. To the best of my knowledge, there is not a shortage of either oxygen or cannulae in hospitals.

As I understand it, a ventilator, as others have pointed out, is a far different beast.

For starters, they intubate you … and then the machine basically breathes for you, coughs for you, allows administration of drugs directly into the lungs, etc. It sounds unpleasant because they normally sedate you, you can’t talk, etc.

Hopefully the likes of GM, Ford, Tesla, and Dyspn can rush FUNCTIONAL and SAFE devices into production in time to meet the increasing need for ventilators.

Stay safe out there …


Thanks to all for sharing your knowledge/thoughts on this subject. I’ve since learned new things about what ventilators actually do. BTW - I haven’t left the house in the past 2.5 weeks except to put the garbage out and get the mail. I’m also walking around the perimeter of my basement instead of outdoors. 75 times around is about a mile.


I do walk outside , but meet no one . I feel this is safe. I will sit in the truck with a curb side delivery pickup for a large garden container. This is essential to expand our growing of vegetables. We won’t get out of the truck. Nancy50

You can walk outside, MarlboroNick. I do it everyday. But, I am out in the country. Since the cities are deserted, I think you would still be OK, except people in apartments will risk some exposure in communal areas that may require staying inside their unit.

This is my big issue. I took three trips up and down the elevator yesterday, and it really freaked me out. I’ll need to do it again today to drop off my rent cheque. I chickened out of doing laundry in the shared laundry facility yesterday. I think I’ll try to hand wash some laundry. I’m trying to only go up and down the elevator once a week or so (yesterday was the first time I left my apartment in over two weeks).

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Think about the difference between ventilation and using a ventilator as being like the difference of breathing into someone during CPR and doing chest compressions.

When you breath into someone, you are providing ventilation - like Oxygen.
But, when you do chest compressions, you are physically forcing the oxygen to move into the lungs. There is a subtle difference between the two.

If someone is conscious and breathing, delivering oxygen will help . But, if they stop breathing, you have to force the O2 to physically move O2 into the air passageways in the lungs because their chest cavity isn’t drawing air in and forcing it out.

I dont think I explained that well.

A lot of ICUs would be using CPAP machines (or bipaps too) were it not for the fact that they emit aerosolized droplets from them. One of the main reasons so many patients are getting vented nowadays is that there are far fewer droplets during mechanical ventilation. Otherwise, CPAPs would be chosen for use.

I would think CPAPs would be great to have on hand. The thing is, they are meant for people with severe sleep apnea and so they may be in short supply. A concentrators (oxygen) is used for diagnosed cases of, for example, COPD (and sleep apnea) or central sleep apnea.


You could do laundry in the middle of the night - say, 3 or 4am. My buddy has a COVID confirmation in his building. That’s what I am recommending to him, since his wife is unhappy with the idea of living in their car for a couple weeks, or camping in my yard.

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Coronavirus: Mercedes F1 to make breathing aid

University College London engineers worked with clinicians at UCLH and Mercedes Formula One to build the device, which delivers oxygen to the lungs without needing a ventilator…

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Another alternative that shows promise.