We always encourage questions about using oxygen therapy equipment, especially when it comes to safety. No question is a bad question, so always feel free to contact us! The following question is a good one since it has to do with oxygen and fire safety.
“I'm having a very hard time quitting smoking since I was diagnosed with COPD and put on oxygen. I was already under a lot of stress, and my diagnosis just made it worse. I've tried several methods for quitting without much luck yet, and I've heard that I shouldn't smoke while using my oxygen concentrator because oxygen helps the fire to spread. I was wondering if it would be safe to smoke if I go outside while using my portable oxygen concentrator.” – Name Withheld
Dear Friend Who Is Trying to Quit Smoking,
We always advise against smoking while using an oxygen concentrator, or any oxygen therapy equipment, because if a spark catches the oxygen and has a fuel source, it will ignite and spread extremely fast. The "fuel source" can be anything from a small patch of dry grass, a carpet, or your clothing or hair.
When a fire comes in contact with pure oxygen, like that from an oxygen concentrator, it will burn much hotter because fire needs oxygen to burn. When more oxygen is present, it can become out of control in the blink of an eye.
Please be safe and do not smoke at all while you are using your portable oxygen concentrator if you are indoors or outdoors. We advise you to keep at least a 10-foot radius from others who are smoking, or from campfires or other open flames.
Since you have COPD, you should turn your home into a non-smoking area, for your safety and everyone else's. Fire safety aside, second-hand smoke is even more harmful than first-hand smoke. Anyone in your home that comes in contact with cigarette smoke is at a higher risk of developing COPD later in life, the longer they are around it.
And, of course, don't give up on trying to quit. It's very hard to quit smoking, but there are many things you can do to make it easier. Use electronic cigarettes and slowly reduce the amount of nicotine, or use nicotine gum or patches to help you quit. Stay busy with things you enjoy doing, and start new healthy habits, such as drinking more water or start a new exercise routine (approved by your doctor).