Home Medical Oxygen Safety Tips

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The increasing use of home oxygen over the past decade has increased the number of patients suffering from burn injuries that the Burn Center at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center has treated. 

“Medical oxygen is 100 percent oxygen. This can raise the oxygen levels inside a structure causing many items that would not normally burn to more easily ignite and burn hotter and faster,” said Donna Joyner, RN, Trauma/Burn Outreach. “Burns resulting from the misuse of home oxygen can be life threatening; however, they are preventable.”

Joyner and the U.S. Fire Administration recommend the following tips to keep you safe while using home oxygen:

  • Never smoke in a home where oxygen is in use.
  • Post “no smoking” signs in and outside of the home.
  • Keep all ignition sources away from oxygen. This means matches, lighters, candles, gas stoves, appliances, electric razors and even hair dryers should be at least 10 feet away from the point where the oxygen comes out.
  • Donot wear oxygen while cooking. Oils, grease and petroleum products can spontaneously ignite when exposed to high levels of oxygen. Also avoid using oil-based lotions, lip balm or aerosol sprays.
  • Make sure that the home has working smoke alarms and test them monthly.
  • Keep a working fire extinguisher within reach.
  • Have a home fire escape plan with two ways out of every room and an outside meeting place. Practice the plan at least twice a year.
  • If a fire occurs, turn off the oxygen and leave the house.

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