7 Oxygen Safety Tips

Many folks who use home oxygen do so safely and responsibly. Then there are those who, with or without knowledge of the risks involved, continue to smoke in the presence of oxygen.

Although most burn injuries and fire-related deaths are not related to smoking and oxygen, statistics show that far too many of them are. In fact, a 2008 report issued by the National Fire Protection Association [1] summarizes the following:

– Between 2003 and 2006, home medical oxygen accounted for an average of 1,190 thermal burns seen each year in U.S. emergency rooms.

In general, oxygen is a safe, non-flammable gas. It does, however, support combustion, meaning that materials like cigarettes will burn more readily in its presence [2] and fires will burn hotter and faster in an oxygen-rich environment. [3]

Anytime you light up a cigarette around oxygen, you are putting your life, and the lives of everyone around you, in danger. The following oxygen safety tips are brought to you by the American Lung Association [4] and should be implemented on a daily basis if indeed, oxygen is being used in your home:

– Never smoke around your oxygen source. Additionally, never use oxygen around matches, cigarette lighters, candles, any kind of burning tobacco or any other open flame source. If you use supplemental oxygen and continue to smoke, talk to your doctor as soon as possible about quitting.

– Never allow anyone to smoke inside your home. Secondhand smoke is almost as damaging to the lungs as the real deal. [5]

– Keep at least a 5-foot distance between your oxygen supply source and other sources of heat, such as an electric or gas heater and/or stove.

– Avoid using lotions or creams containing petroleum.  Petroleum is highly flammable, especially around oxygen. Instead, use products that are water-based.

– Store your oxygen cylinders securely and in an upright position. It’s best to use an approved oxygen storage cart.

– When not using your oxygen, turn the oxygen supply valve to the off position.

– Always follow your oxygen supplier’s instructions regarding the safe use of oxygen in your home.

 

[1] Ahrens M. Fires And Burns Involving Home Medical Oxygen. National Fire Protection Association. 2008.
[2] American Lung Association. Supplemental Oxygen. Updated 2013.
[3] Ahrens M. Fires And Burns Involving Home Medical Oxygen. National Fire Protection Association. 2008.
[4] American Lung Association. Supplemental Oxygen. Updated 2013.
[5] American Lung Association. The Health Risks of Secondhand Smoke. Updated 2013.

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