Oxygen Therapy and Staying Safe – Safety Measures for Oxygen Users

An oxygen concentrator is an electronic, and as with all electronics, you have to practice a few simple safety measures while using it. The fact that it puts out a very pure form of oxygen also makes it a special case, and more volatile than other medical machines. It's still a very safe piece of medical equipment to use, and our portable oxygen concentrators are even safe to use on airplanes, as approved by the Federal Aviation Administration.

You'll stay safe if you just follow a few simple safety guidelines while using your oxygen concentrator. You can find even more safety instructions in the owners manual of your oxygen concentrator.

Staying away from heat and flames is the most important thing you can do to stay safe while using an oxygen concentrator. Oxygen itself won't explode or combust when coming in contact with flames. It's a non-flammable gas, and won't go up in flames like gasoline fumes. However, a high purity of oxygen feeds a flame quicker than regular air, and you know how quickly a flame can ignite just in the air in a room.

As a general rule, you should get no closer than 5 feet away from any open flame, stove or oven that is on, or other form of high heat that is exposed. Even if it's just a burner that is on, it could still create a tiny spark of heat, which could be fed by the oxygen flow coming from your nasal cannula. This could suddenly become a flash of flames that spreads quickly and would be harder to get under control, and would be especially dangerous to you.

Smokers should never smoke around you, especially not in your home. If someone must light up, put some distance between you and them, of no less than 5 feet. You can't go near a campfire while using your portable oxygen concentrator, so you'll have to wait until you're done using it.

You should also pay attention to the maximum operational heat specification for your particular model of oxygen concentrator, and make sure it never gets above that temperature while running. It would cause damage to the concentrator itself, as well as be dangerous to you. There's also a maximum storage temperature, the highest temperature safe for storing your concentrator, not for using it.

Do not use petroleum based products, as these can actually combust when coming in close contact with pure oxygen. This includes petroleum based lotions and creams. When in combination with a nearby source of an open flame, this can be even more dangerous.

Fix an oxygen leak right away, if the cannula tubing comes loose from the concentrator. You'll hear an alarm once this happens, from your oxygen concentrator, as this is one of the standard alarm features. If you're using tanks, make sure the valves are securely shut when you're not using them, and they are sitting upright in a proper storage container or cart.

About Scott Ridl: Scott joined American Medical Sales and Rentals in 2008 as a Web Manager and Content Writer. He is a writer and designer. He is extensively trained on oxygen therapy products from leading manufacturers such as Inogen, Respironics, Chart, Invacare, ResMed and more. Scott works closely with respiratory therapists and oxygen specialists to educate the community about oxygen therapy products, COPD, asthma and lung diseases. He writes weekly columns and is passionate about educating the community on oxygen therapy and respiratory issues.

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