Oxygen Use Precautions

Oxygen is a safe gas as long as it is used properly. Contrary to what most people believe, oxygen will not explode.

Oxygen does, however, support combustion. Therefore, any material that is already burning will burn much faster and hotter in an oxygen-enriched atmosphere.

It is very important to follow these precautions so that you and your family are safe when you are using your oxygen.

  • Notify your electric company if you are using an oxygen concentrator system so it can make your house a priority during a power outage.
  • Always have backup tanks available, and know how to use them.
  • Families may want to consider purchasing a backup generator for power outages.
  • Be sure to have a functioning smoke detector and fire extinguisher in your home at all times.
  • Post "No Smoking" signs in the room where your oxygen is kept.
  • Post a “Oxygen in Use” sign on the front door to let visitors and emergency workers (like fire department) know that oxygen is in use at home.
  • Check that all electrical equipment in the area near the oxygen is properly grounded.
  • Secure loose cords and extra tubing so you don't trip on them when using your oxygen system.
  • Secure floor mats and rugs so that you will not trip or fall when using your oxygen system.
  • Never use extension cords with any medical equipment.
  • Be sure doorways, hallways and rooms can accommodate you if you have a portable oxygen system.
  • Game controllers should not be used with oxygen; the new systems that vibrate and have other functions have caused issues with patients on oxygen.
  • Do not use cleaning products or other products containing grease or oils, petroleum jelly, alcohol or flammable liquids on or near your oxygen system. These substances cause oxygen to be flammable. 
  • Oxygen must be used as your doctor ordered it. Too much or too little can be harmful.
  • Do not change the oxygen flow rate on your own -- this can lead to serious side effects. If you feel you are not getting enough oxygen, contact your physician and notify your home care supplier.
  • Never use more than 50 feet of oxygen tubing. This can dilute the concentration of oxygen that you are receiving.
  • Do not smoke or allow others to smoke in the same room as your oxygen system. Cigarette smoking is very dangerous: sparks from a cigarette could cause facial burns.
  • Stay at least 6 feet away from any open flame or heat source (candles, gas stove, etc.) when you are using your oxygen system. If you must cook while using oxygen, make sure your tubing will not touch the gas flame or electric burner. (Tuck the tubing in your shirt or position it behind you.)
  • Petroleum-based products (such as Vaseline) should not be used on the face when oxygen is being used.
  • Do not store your oxygen system near any heat sources or open flames.
  • Do not expose your oxygen equipment to electrical appliances (such as electric razors, hair dryers, electric blankets, etc.)
  • Check that all electrical equipment in the area near the oxygen is properly grounded.
  • Keep the oxygen system away from aerosol cans or sprays, including air fresheners or hair spray. These products are very flammable.
  • Keep the oxygen system clean and dust-free. The person who delivers your oxygen will show you how to do this.
  • Keep the oxygen system in a place where it won't get knocked over.
  • Always store your oxygen equipment in a well-ventilated area.
  • An oxygen cylinder must be secured at all times; put it in a cart or lay it down flat.
  • Do not carry liquid oxygen in a backpack or other enclosed space. Carrying cases, shoulder or hand bags, shoulder straps and backpack oxygen units are available to provide proper ventilation for the unit to ensure safety.
  • Take precautions to avoid skin contact when filling your portable liquid oxygen tank, as frost buildup could cause injury. 

Last Updated 04/2014