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Oxygen safety

Oxygen makes things burn much faster. Think of what happens when you blow into a fire; it makes the flame bigger. If you are using oxygen in your home, you must take extra care to stay safe.

Have Your Home Ready

Make sure you have working smoke detectors and a working fire extinguisher in your home. If you move around the house with your oxygen, you may need more than one fire extinguisher in different locations.

Smoking can be very dangerous.

  • No one should smoke in a room where you or your child is using oxygen.
  • Put a "NO SMOKING" sign in every room where oxygen is used.
  • In a restaurant, keep at least 6 feet (2 meters) away from any source of fire, such as a stove, fireplace, or tabletop candle.

Keep oxygen 6 feet (2 meters) away from:

  • Toys with electric motors
  • Electric baseboard or space heaters
  • Wood stoves, fireplaces, candles
  • Electric blankets
  • Hairdryers, electric razors, and electric toothbrushes

Be Careful in the Kitchen

Be careful with your oxygen when you cook.

  • Keep oxygen away from the stove top and oven.
  • Watch out for splattering grease. It can catch fire.
  • Keep children with oxygen away from the stove top and oven.
  • Cooking with a microwave is OK.

Other Safety Tips

DO NOT store your oxygen in a trunk, box, or small closet. Storing your oxygen under the bed is OK if air can move freely under the bed.

Keep liquids that may catch fire away from your oxygen. This includes cleaning products that contain oil, grease, alcohol, or other liquids that can burn.

DO NOT use Vaseline or other petroleum-based creams and lotions on your face or upper part of your body unless you talk to your respiratory therapist or doctor first. Products that are safe include:

  • Aloe vera
  • Water-based products, such as K-Y Jelly

Avoid tripping over oxygen tubing.

  • Try taping the tubing to the back of your shirt.
  • Teach children not to get tangled in the tubing.

Alternative Names

COPD - oxygen safety; Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease - oxygen safety; Chronic obstructive airways disease - oxygen safety; Emphysema - oxygen safety; Heart failure - oxygen-safety; Palliative care - oxygen safety; Hospice - oxygen safety

References

American Thoracic Society. Oxygen therapy. Updated April 2016. www.thoracic.org/patients/patient-resources/resources/oxygen-therapy.pdf. Accessed September 29, 2016.

COPD Foundation. Oxygen therapy. Updated June 2015. www.copdfoundation.org/What-is-COPD/Living-with-COPD/Oxygen-Therapy.aspx. Accessed February 9, 2016.

National Fire Protection Association. Medical oxygen. Updated July 2013. www.nfpa.org/safety-information/for-consumers/causes/medical-oxygen. Accessed February 10, 2016.

Review Date 2/2/2016

Updated by: Denis Hadjiliadis, MD, MHS, Associate Professor of Medicine, Pulmonary, Allergy, and Critical Care, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team. Editorial update 9/29/2016.