Smoking and Oxygen Therapy: What You Need to Know

Using supplemental oxygen can be a life-saving therapy for many people. However, with the benefits comes responsibilities to using your machine safely. One of the most dangerous activities you can do around oxygen is smoking. The reason oxygen is so dangerous is because while normal air has 21 percent oxygen, supplemental oxygen can deliver up 90 percent pure oxygen, which can create an environment where fires can easily ignite and burn very quickly.

Patients are told by doctors not to smoke, but studies have show that 14% to 51% of home oxygen users smoke. Read on to educate yourself on frequently asked questions about smoking and oxygen therapy.

1. Can I smoke while on oxygen therapy? Can I smoke around someone who is on oxygen therapy?

You should never smoke inside a home where supplemental oxygen is in use.

2. What are the dangers of combining smoking and oxygen therapy?

Although oxygen itself is not flammable, it creates an environment in which fires can ignite and burn quickly.

3. Can I use e-cigarettes while on oxygen therapy?

Electronic cigarettes work with a heating element that vaporizes a liquid solution that delivers nicotine and use a power source that can be charged with a USB or a battery charger. They can ignite when saturated with oxygen and some reports state that there is risk of an ignition of en e-cigarette while undergoing oxygen therapy. Therefore, e-cigarettes should not be used.

4. Can I smoke after using oxygen therapy?

Your clothing can become enriched with oxygen, which can burn vigorously if ignited. Make sure to ventilate your clothes for at least 20 minutes before smoking.

What are some "Don’ts" around oxygen therapy?

  • Keep the oxygen cylinders at least 10 feet away from open flames, including cigarettes, candles, gas stoves and at least 5 feet away from 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.
  • Do not use aerosols such as hair sprays or deodorants whilst using your oxygen equipment.
  • Do not use oil-based creams and moisturizers when using your medical oxygen system.

What are some "Do's" around oxygen therapy?

  • Keep oxygen cylinders secure at all times, because if they fall and a valve is loose, they can be very dangerous.
  • Ensure that your hands are clean.
  • 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.
  • 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.

By educating yourself and your loved ones on the dangers of mixing smoking with oxygen therapy, you can help reduce the incidences of accidents caused by mixing these practices. Being safe while using oxygen therapy is how you can reap the greatest benefits.

Reviewed: 2/28/18

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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