Home Oxygen Safety Tips: How to Prevent Fires and Burns - Crozer-Keystone Health System - PA

Published on April 11, 2016

Home Oxygen Safety Tips: How to Prevent Fires and Burns

Crozer-Keystone Health SystemMedia Contact:
Katrina Stier
(610) 447-6314

Home oxygen fires and burns are preventable
by following simple safety procedures.

There are a variety of ailments and maladies that require patients to have supplemental oxygen, which usually means having an oxygen tank with them. Carrying the tank can be an inconvenience, but it sure beats not being able to breathe.

Of course, there can be other issues that go along with supplemental oxygen.

Oxygen is safe, but only if it’s used properly and precautions are taken. Although oxygen won’t explode, it does support combustion – that means that any material that’s already burning or sparking can burn much faster and hotter in an oxygen-rich environment. If this occurs, it can lead to serious fires and burns.

“The Crozer Burn Center treats more than two burn injuries every month related to home oxygen fires,” said Linwood R. Haith Jr., M.D., medical director of the Nathan Speare Regional Burn Treatment Center. “They are all preventable. Just as the campaign to eradicate smoking in bed saved scores of lives and prevented countless severe burn injuries, our goal should be to eliminate home oxygen fires.”

If you or a loved one requires the use of an oxygen tank, here is what you can do to prevent fires and burns.

Make sure your home is set up to be a safe space for oxygen tank use. Consider posting a “no smoking” sign in the room where you store your oxygen tanks as well as an “oxygen tank in use” sign on your front door to alert visitors and emergency workers that oxygen tanks are being used in your home.

Check that all of the electrical equipment in the area near your oxygen tank is properly grounded and never use extension cords with medical equipment. Prevent tripping while using your oxygen system by making sure there aren’t any loose cords, extra tubing, or loose floor mats or rugs.

Don’t use any cleaning products or any other products that contain grease or oils, petroleum jelly, alcohol or flammable liquids on or near your oxygen system – they can cause oxygen to become flammable.

While you or someone else is using any oxygen system, do not smoke or allow others to smoke in the same room. Sparks from a cigarette can cause facial burns. Similarly, you should stay at least 6 feet away from any open flame or heat source such as candles or a gas stove when using oxygen. And do not use any type of petroleum-based products like Vaseline on your face when using oxygen.

You also need to make sure your oxygen tank is stored away safely when you’re not using it. It should never be stored near any heat sources or open flames. It also shouldn’t be exposed to electrical appliances like hair dryers, electric razors and electric heating pads – although these seem like harmless appliances, they pose a risk of sparking.

Make sure your oxygen system is kept away from aerosol cans or sprays, including hair spray and air fresheners – these products are highly flammable.

Always store your oxygen tank and equipment in a well-ventilated area where it won’t get knocked over. An oxygen cylinder needs to be secured at all times, whether you put it in a cart or lay it down flat.

Finally, make sure you have functioning smoke detectors and a fire extinguisher in your home at all times.

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