Just as with all at-home medical equipment, there are certain safety measures you'll need to take when using oxygen therapy. Knowing how to use safely oxygen at home is important because you don't want to have an accident while using something that is supposed to be helping you.
Even though oxygen is all around us in the air, high concentrations of it can be dangerous for two main reasons.
Oxygen as a Fire Hazard
Oxygen itself isn't flammable, but if it comes in contact with a small spark or flame, it can cause a fire to get out of control quickly. All it takes is one small high concentration of heat, a source of fuel such as fabric or paper, and the kind of high oxygen purity that would come from an oxygen concentrator.
Here are home oxygen therapy safety DON'Ts:
- Stay away from open flames – At least 10 feet, while using an oxygen concentrator (cigarettes, candles, gas stoves).
- Keep oxygen canisters at least 10 feet away from open flames.
- Keep 5 feet away from sources of high heat, such as non-gas ovens and electric heaters.
- Do not use an electric razor while using oxygen therapy (they are known to put off sparks).
- Do not use oil or petroleum-based products while using oxygen.
And some home oxygen therapy safety Dos:
- Keep oxygen cylinders secure at all times. If they fall over, and the valve comes loose, they can become a dangerous missile.
- Place a non-smoking sign in your home or one in each room.
- Notify your utility providers and local fire department that you are using oxygen in your home. They can put you on a “top priority listing” in case you lose power.v
- Keep the service number for your oxygen equipment nearby, in case something breaks.
- Make sure your smoke detectors are all working properly and replace with new batteries as soon as they start to get low.
- Have a quick escape plan in case of a house fire, so you know what to do immediately and to prevent panic and confusion.
- Store your oxygen equipment when not in use, in an area of the house far from sources of heat.
Oxygen as a Medication
Oxygen from an oxygen concentrator, or in high concentrations, must be prescribed by a doctor. The dosage shouldn't be changed, except when prescribed by a doctor, since using too much or too little can cause health complications.
Yes, it is possible to overdose on oxygen. It can cause damage to the lungs to receive too much high purity oxygen at one time. It can also be dangerous for the obvious reasons, to not use enough oxygen if your doctor has found it necessary for you to receive a specific dose.
The way to use oxygen safely at home, in this respect, is to follow simply the dosage instructions prescribed by your doctor and to do regular cleaning and maintenance of your oxygen equipment.