Oxygen might seem like a harmless gas because we breathe it every day. However, when oxygen is purified at high concentrations, it can become very destructive. Oxygen therapy is an important medical treatment for patients who need to have supplemental oxygen, but caution must be taken to avoid injury.
In this blog post, we will discuss 11 important safety precautions to take into consideration if you are on oxygen therapy. First, let us discuss 2 critical reasons why you should always handle oxygen carefully.
2 Critical Reasons Why Oxygen Should Be Handled Carefully
All at-home medical devices have specific safety measures to avoid injury and potential tragedy. In regards to oxygen therapy, there are 2 main reasons why oxygen should be handled with a similar level of care:
Oxygen is a Fire Hazard
Oxygen itself is not flammable, but if it comes into contact with a small spark or flame and a highly flammable item, oxygen can accelerate a fire quickly. The oxygen that comes from an oxygen concentrator or an oxygen tank is of sufficient purity to become a potent fire accelerant if not handled carefully.
Oxygen is a Medication
Oxygen in high concentrations, such as an oxygen concentrator, must be prescribed by a doctor. The dosage should not be changed, except when instructed by a doctor, since using too much or too little can cause health complications.
While it is not possible to overdose on oxygen in the same way you can overdose on other types of medication, oxygen at high concentrations can cause damage to your lungs if you receive too much purified oxygen for too long. For this reason, it is crucial to ensure that you are only using enough oxygen to supplement your medical needs and no more. Your doctor has the best clinical judgment regarding what that level should be, so be sure to treat purified oxygen like the medication that it is.
11 Safety Precautions for Using Oxygen Therapy
The following list includes at-home oxygen therapy safety DON’Ts:
- Do not go near open flames - Stay least 10 feet away from open flames while using an oxygen concentrator or oxygen tank (cigarettes, candles, gas stoves, etc.).
- Do not use an electric razor while using oxygen therapy (they are known to put off sparks).
- Do not put on or take off clothing that is prone to static electricity while wearing supplemental oxygen.
- Do not use oil or petroleum-based products while using oxygen.
The following list contains at-home oxygen therapy safety DOs:
- Keep oxygen cylinders secure at all times. If they fall over, the valve can come loose, and the pressurized oxygen will turn the tank into 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 list” in case you lose power.
- Keep the service number for your oxygen equipment nearby, in case something breaks.
- Make sure your smoke detectors are all working correctly and replace them with new batteries as soon as they start to get low.
- Have a quick escape plan in case of a house fire, so you immediately know what to do to prevent panic and confusion.
- When not in use, store your oxygen equipment in an area of your house that is far from any sources of heat.
Oxygen therapy is an important treatment option for people who need additional oxygen due to a medical condition. That said, oxygen is still a medication and should be used with caution. By taking the steps above, you will be well on your way to using oxygen in your home safely.
Updated: August 2, 2019
Published: December 22, 2015