If you require the use of home oxygen, there are several precautions you need to take in order to make sure you are using it safely. Most importantly, you need to know about the risks associated with home oxygen and fire. Oxygen is fuel for fire, so the presence of oxygen can cause a small fire to burn out of control very quickly. It's also important to know that if you use oxygen cylinders, the compressed oxygen can explode if exposed to high heat. To protect yourself, your family, and your home, Advanced Respiratory Care offers these tips to make sure you are using oxygen safely in your home and reducing your risk for fires.
- Oxygen canisters should be kept at least 5-10 feet away from gas stoves, lighted fireplaces, wood stoves, candles or other sources of open flames.
- Do not use electric razors while using oxygen. (These are a possible source of sparks.)
- Do not use oil, grease or petroleum-based products on the equipment. Do not use it near you while you use oxygen. These materials are highly flammable and will burn readily and violently in an oxygen rich environment. Avoid oil or petroleum-based lotions or creams, like Vaseline, on your face or upper chest. Check the ingredients of such products before purchase. Refrain from using aerosol sprays. If a skin moisturizer is needed, consider using cocoa butter, aloe vera or other similar products. For lubrication or re-hydration of dry nasal passages, use water-based products. Your pharmacist or care provider can suggest these.
- Never leave oxygen supply running when not in use. Oxygen can enrich various materials and cause them to become extremely flammable.
- Use your concentrator in a well-ventilated area.
- Post signs in every room where oxygen is in use. Make sure that absolutely NO SMOKING occurs in the home or in the car when oxygen is in use.
- Secure an oxygen cylinder to a solidly fixed object to avoid creating a missile out of the tank. This might happen if it was accidentally knocked over and gas was allowed to escape.
- Use caution with oxygen tubing so you do not trip over it or become entangled in furniture.
- Be familiar with the equipment and the safety checks established by your Registered Respiratory Therapist. Keep ARC Network’s contact telephone numbers, and the numbers for other emergency services, posted near a phone.
- Do not try to repair broken equipment on your own. Request this service from ARC.
- Make sure smoke detectors in the home are working, install fresh batteries, and perform monthly checks. Have a fire extinguisher available in the home (use type ABC). Create and practice an escape and rescue plan in the event of a fire.
- Notify the local fire department, gas and electric companies and telephone company when home oxygen therapy is started. Request a “priority service listing.” This is for those times when there is a power or telephone failure or repairs are needed on any utility.
- In the event of a fire, evacuate the premises immediately and contact 911. Advise the emergency operator of the presence of gas cylinders in the house. Contact ARC thereafter, when you are able.