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Oxygen safety

Oxygen makes things burn much faster. Think of what happens when you blow into a fire; it makes the flame bigger. If you are using oxygen in your home, you must take extra care to stay safe.

Have your home ready

Make sure you have working smoke detectors and a working fire extinguisher in your home. If you move around the house with your oxygen, you may need more than one fire extinguisher in different locations.

Smoking can be very dangerous.

  • No one should smoke in a room where you or your child is using oxygen.
  • Put a "NO SMOKING" sign in every room where oxygen is used.
  • In a restaurant, keep at least 6 feet away from any source of fire, such as a stove or fireplace.

Keep oxygen 6 feet away from:

  • Toys with electric motors
  • Electric baseboard or space heaters
  • Wood stoves or fireplaces
  • Electric blankets
  • Hairdryers, electric razors, and electric toothbrushes

Be careful in the kitchen

Be careful with your oxygen when you cook.

  • Keep oxygen away from the stove top and oven.
  • Watch out for splattering grease. It can catch fire.
  • Keep children with oxygen away from the stove top and oven.
  • Cooking with a microwave is OK.

Other safety tips

Do not store your oxygen in a trunk, box, or small closet. Storing your oxygen under the bed is OK if air can move freely under the bed.

Keep liquids that may catch fire away from your oxygen. This includes cleaning products that contain oil, grease, alcohol, or other liquids that can burn.

Do not use Vaseline or other petroleum-based creams and lotions on your face or upper part of your body unless you talk to your respiratory therapist or doctor first. Products that are safe include:

  • Aloe vera
  • Water-based products, such as K-Y Jelly

Avoid tripping over oxygen tubing.

  • Try taping the tubing to the back of your shirt.
  • Teach children not to get tangled in the tubing.

References

American Thoracic Society. Why do I need oxygen therapy? http://www.thoracic.org/clinical/copd-guidelines/for-patients/why-do-i-need-oxygen-therapy.php. Accessed on May 8, 2014.

National Home Oxygen Patients Association. Understanding oxygen therapy: a patient guide to long-term supplemental oxygen. http://www.homeoxygen.org/assets/docs/Understanding%20Oxygen%20Therapy%202013.pdf. Accessed on May 8, 2014.

Update Date: 4/26/2014

Updated by: Denis Hadjiliadis, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine, Pulmonary, Allergy, and Critical Care, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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