10 Tips for Oxygen Safety in the Home

home oxygen safety, oxygen safety in the homeHome oxygen safety is one of the most important aspects of oxygen therapy whether you choose an oxygen concentrator, oxygen cylinders or a liquid oxygen system as your oxygen supply source. Although oxygen is a safe, non-flammable gas, it does support combustion meaning things burn more readily and ignite easier in its presence.

To enable more home oxygen safety, consider the following tips:

  1. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that 89% of deaths related to fire and home oxygen use are caused by smoking.[1] Never smoke or allow anyone else to smoke around oxygen. Post NO SMOKING signs in every room of your home where oxygen is in use.
  2. Keep oxygen canisters at least 5-10 feet away from any heat source, including gas stoves, lit fireplaces, wood burning stoves, candles, lighters or other types of open flame.
  3. According to the American Lung Association, “the combustion of flammable products containing petroleum [like Vaseline] can also be supported by the presence of oxygen.”[2] Avoid using lotions, creams or other home care products containing petroleum. Choose water-based products instead.
  4. Store oxygen canisters safely and securely in the upright position, away from any type of heat source and in an approved oxygen storage cart or other device designed to store home oxygen.
  5. Support home oxygen safety and reduce the risk of home fires by turning your oxygen supply valve to the off position when oxygen is not in use.
  6. Avoid using anything that may cause a spark around home oxygen, including electric heaters, electric blankets, electric razors, hair dryers or friction toys.
  7. Install and maintain smoke detectors in your home. Replace batteries regularly. Perform weekly checks. Keep a fire extinguisher on hand and know how to use it. Plan and practice an emergency evacuation route for you and your family to use in the event of a fire.
  8. Familiarize yourself with your oxygen equipment and the safety checks established by your home oxygen supply company. If you don’t understand how something works, ask for more information and a demonstration.
  9. Inform your power company that you are oxygen dependent. Many companies offer oxygen-dependent patients priority service or even a generator when their power goes out. Find out what steps you need to take to get this type of service.
  10. Oxygen accumulates in poorly ventilated areas like closets or cabinets creating a potential fire hazard. Store your oxygen in a well-ventilated area away from the sun. In addition, never drape clothing or other material over your oxygen supply source.

These tips should help you take better precautions for oxygen safety in the home.

[1] Center for Disease Control and Prevention. “Fatal Fires Associated with Smoking During Long-Term Oxygen Therapy – Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Oklahoma, 2000—2007”. MMWR 57(31), 852-854.

[2] American Lung Association. “Supplemental Oxygen”. Accessed September 26, 2015.

By Deborah Leader RN, BSN, PHN

20 thoughts on “10 Tips for Oxygen Safety in the Home”

  1. Phyllis Coleman says:

    information on priority service or generator when power goes out for an oxygen dependent person

    1. Inogen Inogen says:

      Hi Phyllis, For information on priority service, please contact your power company and notify them that you are oxygen dependent. Many companies offer oxygen-dependent patients priority service or even a generator when their power goes out. To find out what steps you need to take to get this type of service, please contact your power company.

  2. John Mahoney says:

    I had no idea that if ou used an oxygen concentrator it was important to keep it away from heat sources. It makes sense that understanding this can help you avoid accidents as well as damages to your oxygen unit. Personally, I would want to make sure I do my fair share of homework so I can educate myself and know how to care for my concentration unit.

  3. Carol Stevens says:

    I have a neighbor on oxygen and management moved a group of heavy smokers next to her……are we in danger?

    1. Inogen Inogen says:

      Hi Carol, As long as the smokers do not smoke in the same house that the neighbor who uses oxygen is in, the rest of the tenants are not in danger. You may want to recommend that your neighbor puts a no smoking sign on the front door of their house advising people to put out their cigarettes before entering the house because oxygen is in use.

  4. Eva Thomson says:

    A man just moved in our building he lives above me. He is a heavy smoker and also on oxygen. He sits outside on the back steps all day or at least a better part of it smoking. I have addressed my concerns with the landlord, he tells me he spoke to the man who told him he turns it off when outside. He has been seen outside with portable take on and smoking as well. What can I do to stay safe

    1. Inogen Inogen says:

      Hi Eva, We're sorry to hear about your difficult situation. You should know that oxygen itself is not flammable, but it is combustible, meaning things burn more readily in its presence. There is really no safe way to smoke around oxygen but experts recommend keeping oxygen sources at least 5 to 10 feet away from any heat source. Perhaps you can use this list of oxygen safety tips in his mailbox and give the landlord a copy as well.

  5. Carol Collis says:

    I have a Inogen One portable oxgen. I'm fixing to take a trip with some smokers in the car. Will it hurt the portable when smokers are around. Please don't give my adress to anyone. I've already have enough junk mail

    1. Inogen Inogen says:

      Hi Carol, It is unfortunate that the smokers can’t hold off until everyone is out of the car, however, being in a car with smokers won’t harm your Inogen One portable oxygen concentrator. But please be aware that second hand smoke can exasperate the symptoms of COPD, emphysema, and the like.

  6. Donald Madison says:

    Hi Carol ! How can I safely use my electric blanket periodically this winter with my overnight use of oxygen? My oxygen generator is 5 ft away from my bed! My oxygen is the plastic nose tube type! Thanks for your help, Don

    1. Inogen Inogen says:

      Hi Donald, We recommend that you keep oxygen therapy devices at least 5-10 feet away from heat sources. If your oxygen generator is 5 feet away from your bed and you use your electric blanket on the lower half of your body, you may be fine but just in case, please have a licensed nurse practitioner, caregiver, or other medical professional look at your home setup so that they can properly evaluate your situation.

  7. Annette says:

    Hi, I know a gentleman on oxygen, I clean his home is it safe to use a vacuum cleaner around him.

    1. Inogen Inogen says:

      Hi Annette, Thank you for reaching out to us. There is no problem with using a vacuum cleaner around a person using our units.

  8. Nanci McFarland says:

    My sister in law lives in a "5th wheel" type small trailer. She has the tanks in the center of the trailer with tubing that reaches from her bed to her couch. Is the nasal cannula the combustible source as well as the tanks? They have been using their gas oven to heat their trailer as well as 2 small electric heaters. How can they safely heat their trailer while she using her oxygen? She just came home from the hospital yesterday after having a pulmonary embolus in both lungs.

    1. Inogen Inogen says:

      Hi Nanci, In a 2006 study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information found that patients that smoke while on home oxygen expose are exposing themselves to avoidable burn injury. Cannula tubing is made from a polyvinyl chloride product which, when ignited, emits an intense flame. To safely heat your sister-in-law's trailer, she should take precaution and avoid electrical blankets, razors, and hair dryers. It's always better to be safe than sorry, so putting on extra layers of clothing, like a sweater or a coat, may be your sister-in-law's best bet.

      For more information on the 2006 NCBI study, please visit: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3188038/

  9. shellypaletta@ymail.com says:

    my dad just lit a fire in his wood burning stove with is portable oxygen tank on him with the tube hooked up to his nose … is this dangerous???

    1. shellypaletta@ymail.com says:

      he also stated he could put a flame to the end of the hose and it wouldnt burn !

      1. Inogen Inogen says:

        Hi Shelly, There is no danger to lighting a fire and using the portable oxygen concentrator. You and your father should not feel concerned.

  10. patricia hutchinson says:

    If smoke is on my clothes can i go near anyone on oxygen

    1. Inogen Inogen says:

      Hi Patricia, No the smell of smoke on your clothes does not create a fire hazard. However, oxygen therapy patients do tend to be sensitive to the smell of smoke, so if you can avoid smoke that would be best.

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