By Pam Gennings, Executive Director Special Projects

Oxygen therapy prescribed by a physician is beneficial for people who do not get enough oxygen naturally.

Oxygen therapy helps:

  • Improve sleep and mood
  • Increase mental alertness and stamina
  • Allow a person’s body to carry out normal functions
  • Prevent heart failure in people with severe lung disease

According to the National Fire Protection Association, there are roughly two million households in the United States using home oxygen therapy, and home medical oxygen prescribed by a physician adds a higher percentage of oxygen to the air the patient uses.

Oxygen is not flammable and will not explode. However, oxygen does support combustion. This means that an oxygen-enriched environment makes things burn faster and ignite easier.

If you or someone you know is using oxygen at home, it is important to follow these safety precautions to avoid risk of injury such as burns to yourself or others, as well as fire and property damage.

  1. Do not smoke in the same room as the oxygen concentrator or oxygen tanks.
    Post “No Smoking” signs in and outside of home to remind people not to smoke.
  2. Keep the oxygen tubing away from heat source while cooking.
  3. Oxygen must be stored at least ten (10) feet from open flames, space heaters or any source of open heat.
  4. Avoid using electrical appliances that produce sparks, such as electric heaters, electric razors, hair dryers, friction toys, remote toy cars, etc.
  5. Do not use an extension cord to plug in the concentrator. Power strips with circuit breakers should only be used as a last resort.
  6. Do not use flammable products around oxygen.
  7. Never use grease or oil in the concentrator.
  8. Do not use Vaseline®, Vicks®, Chapstick® or other petroleum-based products on or around oxygen.
  9. Do not use aerosol sprays around oxygen.
  10. Place the concentrator in a well-ventilated room with at least one (1) foot of space around the sides.
  11. Do not attempt to repair any oxygen equipment. Call your oxygen provider if you experience trouble with your oxygen.
  12. Do not route the tubing under carpets or mattresses.
  13. Keep oxygen out of reach of children.
  14. Do not use more than 50 feet of oxygen tubing (57 feet with nasal cannula).
  15. Be sure to have a functioning smoke detector and fire extinguisher in your home at all times.
  16. Always follow the physician’s orders regarding the amount of oxygen you are using.
  17. Do not change the liter flow unless directed by you physician or healthcare nurse.
  18. Periodically check to ensure that you are using the correct liter flow.

Excerpts from Oxford Home Health Patient Education Material.

If you or someone you know is new to Home Oxygen Therapy, contact one of our Care Coordinators to find out more information about available home care services.