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10 Tips for Oxygen Safety in the Home

Home 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. As such, you must be careful to follow oxygen safety in the home, and to make sure anyone in your home is aware of oxygen tank safety. Here are some oxygen precautions you should take to ensure that you are following the home oxygen safety guidelines.

 

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

    1. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports 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 and be strict about O2 safety at home.
    2. home oxygen safety, oxygen safety in the home

      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. Oxygen tank safety relies on keeping your oxygen away from flames. 

    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] Home oxygen safety guidelines recommend that you 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 with oxygen tank safety in mind.

    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 do not 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 and improve your oxygen safety in the home.

    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, oxygen therapy safety requires that you never drape clothing or other material over your oxygen supply source.

Though oxygen itself is not flammable, it does create an environment in which fires are more likely. Accordingly, it is essential that you follow fire safety rules and oxygen tank safety whenever you are around an oxygen source or you or someone else is receiving oxygen therapy. Follow these oxygen safety tips to help you take better oxygen precautions. It is always better to play it safe when it comes to oxygen safety in the home.

Frequently Asked Questions: Oxygen Safety in the Home

Is oxygen safe to use at home?

Oxygen is quite safe when used properly and oxygen precautions are followed. The 10 home oxygen safety guidelines listed above will help ensure that you know how to use oxygen therapy safety to keep you and your household out of harm’s way. Just remember never to smoke or use an open flame near oxygen, and always follow your doctor’s instructions for use to ensure that you are getting the right amount of oxygen for you. Using your supplemental oxygen incorrectly or too frequently or infrequently could put you and your health in danger, so make sure that your oxygen supplier shows you how to use your oxygen equipment properly. Oxygen safety in the home is easy to achieve as long as you follow the oxygen precautions

What are the dangers of oxygen tanks?

Oxygen tank safety is slightly different than oxygen precautions for oxygen concentrators. Oxygen tank safety requires that oxygen tanks be kept upright at all times to protect against falls, which could cause a leak in the valve, hoses or connections on the tank. Oxygen tanks also usually provide a continuous flow, which puts spaces at greater risk of becoming oxygen-rich than the pulse dosing provided by many oxygen concentrators. Additionally, you have to be sure that you are opening and closing the valves properly any time you use your oxygen tank to ensure that it is not leaking. As with any oxygen source, never smoke near your oxygen tank and keep it away from open flames and heat sources. 

Can a tank of oxygen explode?

Keep in mind that, when used properly, oxygen tanks are quite safe and oxygen tank safety is easy to achieve. However, when used incorrectly or when accidents occur, an oxygen tank can explode. The most common reason for explosions are open flames, and most of those result from people smoking near their oxygen tanks. When the cigarette, or any other flame or spark, gets close to the oxygen source, the heat can ignite the oxygen, leading to an explosion. Additionally, heat can combine with vibration, like when patients travel with their oxygen tanks, and if an oxygen tank is left in the sun or near a heating vent, and the vibration causes static electricity to spark, the spark will ignite the oxygen and cause an explosion. Leaks are also a potential cause of an explosion, as excess oxygen can fill a space, so even a spark that should be a safe distance away could then pose a risk. Remember: these are rare instances and oxygen tank safety is easy to achieve. Just follow oxygen safety in the home and on the go and be vigilant about using your tank properly, keeping it away from flame or heat and checking for leaks.

By Deborah Leader RN, BSN, PHN

 

Sources:

[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.

https://www.esfrs.org/EasySiteWeb/GatewayLink.aspx?alId=789

https://www.hunker.com/12550837/what-are-the-causes-of-an-oxygen-tank-explosion

 

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

  1. Avatar 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. Avatar 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. Avatar 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. Avatar 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. Avatar 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. Avatar 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. Avatar 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. Avatar 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. Avatar 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.

  10. Avatar barbara says:

    my dad is coming home in 2 days on oxygen and all the neighbors have bonfires and the smoke comes in the house even with the windows closed what should i do. will the smoke make it hard for him to breathe ? i have asthma and ask them to stop burning wood because it triggers my asthma and i'm allergic to asthma medicine and they wouldn't stop so asking them to stop wont work what should i do please help

    1. Inogen Inogen says:

      Hi Barbara, Do you live in an area with a Home Owners Association or any other sort of Community or Neighborhood Association? If so, going to them may be a good starting point. If you live in an older home, you may have issues with sealed doors and windows. If so, you may want to consider updating old doors and windows with newer fixtures.

  11. Avatar Gary Appelson says:

    Hi, Can an oil filled portable space heater be used when about 8 feet from the concentrator and about 12 feet from extra tanks . Oil filled space heaters have no flame or exposed heat sources.

    1. Inogen Inogen says:

      Hi Gary, Yes an oil filled portable space heater with no flame or exposed heat sources used as you described is fine.

  12. Avatar Carolyn says:

    My neighbour come over and told me her son is coming home next week and they will have home oxygen set up for him and could we all smoke at least 5 to 10 metres away from her house i measured the distance from fence to were everyone smokes at our house and its 5 metres

    1. Inogen Inogen says:

      Hi Carolyn, Although that should be fine your neighbor may not appreciate the smell or the smoke. Please work with your neighbor to find a reasonable solution that works for both of you.

  13. Avatar Ruth says:

    We have a gas burning fireplace. My husband who is on oxygen sits about 2 feet from the fire place is it safe to have fires when he is up.

    1. Inogen Inogen says:

      Dear Ruth,
      It is not advisable to have the unit close to hot burning fireplace. I would recommend he sit further back than 2 feet, especially if his unit feels warm.

  14. Avatar jd says:

    Is vaping ok around oxygen while the patient is using it? The household member vapes using lipo batteries, 18650 batteries, subohm tanks and rda's. Should the vaper not charge their batteries in an external charger around the patient? What information is current for vaping around a patient using oxygen? What is safe and not safe for vaping, charging batteries around oxygen?

    1. Inogen Inogen says:

      Hi JD, We always suggest you keep the unit away from all pollutants. Better safe than sorry, right?

  15. Avatar KC says:

    Hello. I really need to get my hair colored and cut. Can I go to the hairdresser on portable oxygen? Also, can I use my night cream, lip stain, and other beauty products? Thanks.

    1. Inogen Inogen says:

      Hi KC,
      Yes, you should feel confident doing all of the beauty treatments. Make sure you have your battery fully charged and bring your AC adapter power cord to plug in if the hairdresser takes longer than expected.

  16. Avatar Mary Louise Johnson says:

    My husband is set up with oxygen and extra oxygen tanks. No one mentioned I wouldn't be able to use an electric blanket? Thank you for making that clear. I am wondering if I can use WD-40 around oxygen equipment to clean?

  17. Avatar Carol Evans says:

    My mother is on oxygen 24/7 using a nasal cannula.
    She has been told it is dangerous for her to cook on her gas stove and that it needs to be traded for an electric stove. Her oxygen machine is in her bedroom, nowhere near the gas stove. So, is it safe for her to use the gas stove?

    1. Inogen Inogen says:

      Hi Carol,
      Thank you for your message. The oxygen concentrator stored in a separate room from the gas stove should be safe enough. Please review our product manuals for guidelines, but it says not to operate the unit within 10 feet of the open flame. Thanks!

  18. Avatar Barbara says:

    is there a requirement to put an oxygen in use label on my apartment door?

    1. Inogen Inogen says:

      Hi Barbara,
      You should be safe enough w/o putting one on your apartment door.

  19. Avatar Samuel Gelfand says:

    I'm not totally clear about use of an electric blanket. My separator is 25 feet away from the bed in another room . Is it still unsafe ?

    1. Inogen Inogen says:

      Hi Samuel,
      That sounds safe enough, but please call us and discuss at anytime if you want more clarification. 877-466-4364. Do not allow your concentrator to get hot by placing it on or under the electric blanket.

  20. Avatar Charlita Hearn says:

    Relative just built a house with gas heat. Is it okay to be visit since we have a portable oxygen tank.

    1. Inogen Inogen says:

      Hi Charlita,
      You should be safe enough to be inside the house w/gas heat using a portable oxygen concentrator. Please just be mindful of it's temperature and don't sit directly in front of the heater.

  21. Avatar Sharon mourning Crosby says:

    My husband on oxygen is it okay if someone smoke on the patio?

    1. Inogen Inogen says:

      Hi Sharon,
      Yes, that is fine. Just keep in mind the units pull air into them and that can include smoke. As far as a fire hazard, somebody smoking outside on the patio should not be an issue.

  22. Avatar Ms rose says:

    I have oxygen in garage in a stand but my kid out 4 quick smoke is that but he not sitting in front of it no smoking in house

  23. Avatar Anna says:

    Can you smoke in the house while someone is using oxygen on the floor upstairs but same house?

    1. Inogen Inogen says:

      Hi Anna,
      The oxygen you breathe through the POC is from the air around you so I wouldn't suggest it for many reasons.
      Thank you,

  24. Avatar jo says:

    can I go in an above ground pool with extension tubing to the pool and the concentrator in the house, nowhere near the water ?

    1. Inogen Inogen says:

      Hi Jo,
      Great news for you because yes, you can.
      Inogen One POC’s are allowed to be connected to a nasal cannula up to 25ft. Patient should not use swivel connector with oxygen tubing as there is risk of low flow oxygen delivery.
      Inogen At Home Stationary concentrator can be connected to nasal cannula with swivel connector and oxygen supply tubing up to 100ft.

      There is no reason I see that that patient can't go to the pool, they should just take caution as they would anytime there is supply tubing on the floor to avoid trips/falls.

      Enjoy your pool time!

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