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Using Oxygen Safely

Using prescribed oxygen can help you avoid shortness of breath, improve sleep, and mental alertness, and help you to be more active. To reduce the chances of fire and other hazards, you need to follow important safety guidelines when using your oxygen unit. Remember these Do’s and Don’ts:

Keep tank five feet from sources of flame

Oxygen DO’s

Suggestions of what to do include the following: 

  • Do keep sources of flame at least 5 feet away from where your oxygen unit is being used or stored. This includes cigarettes, matches, candles, fireplaces, gas burners, pipes, or anything else that could start a fire. Never smoke or use an open flame when wearing oxygen.

  • Do keep the oxygen unit at least 5 feet away from sources of heat such as space heaters, electric or gas heaters, steam pipes, furnaces, and radiators.

  • Do ask the medical equipment company if you should keep the oxygen unit away from other appliances, such as TVs and radios.

  • Do turn off the oxygen unit completely when it’s not in use.

  • Do have a fire extinguisher nearby. Make sure you and others in your household know how to use it.

  • Do be careful not to trip over the oxygen tubing.

Oxygen DON’Ts

Suggestions of what not to do include the following: 

  • Don’t smoke, and don’t allow others to smoke near you. Post a “No Smoking” sign in your home.

  • Don’t use aerosol sprays such as air fresheners or hairspray near the oxygen unit. Aerosols are very flammable.

  • Don’t use vapor rubs, petroleum jelly, or oil-based hand lotion. These are flammable. Use water-based products instead.

  • Don’t use oxygen while cooking with gas. Ask the medical equipment company about other types of cooking.

  • Don’t oil the oxygen unit. And don’t use it with oily or greasy hands.

  • Don’t place a liquid oxygen unit on its side. The oxygen inside can evaporate. Oxygen should always be stored upright in a secured device.


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