As more and more people are bringing medical oxygen into the home, they need to understand the new fire risks they also bring into the home. Physicians and other caregivers play a key role in educating patients about the safe use of oxygen.
If you or a loved one uses home oxygen
- Do not smoke
- Make sure the home has working smoke alarms. Test them monthly.
- Have a home fire escape plan with a minimum of 2 ways out of every room and an outdoor meeting place. Practice the plan at least twice a year.
- Keep oxygen and tubing 10 feet away from heat sources such as candles, matches, lighters, heaters, wood stoves, electric razors, hair dryers, cooking stoves, and smoking materials.
- Do not use petroleum-based products such as oil-based lip balms or lotions. They catch fire easily.
Risks of home oxygen
- Using home oxygen increases the risk of fires and burns.
- Using home oxygen increase the amount of oxygen in air, furniture, bedding, clothing and hair, making it easier for a fire to start and spread.
- When more oxygen is in the air, fires burn hotter and faster.
- There is no safe way to smoke around home oxygen. Turning off the oxygen is not enough because your clothes, hair, bedding and the tubing are oxygen-enriched.
Until you can quit smoking, if you must smoke:
- Disconnect the oxygen
- Wait ten minutes
- Go outside to smoke
This is not a safe way to smoke, but it allows time for oxygen to come off your hair and clothes, and lowers the danger of fire.
Help to quit smoking
Many tools are available to help smokers quit. Ask your doctor. For free help, visit the Massachusetts Department of Public Health or call the Smoker's Helpline at (800) 879-8678; Spanish (800) 833-5256; TDD (800) 833-1477.
Breathe Easy: Home Oxygen Fire Safety Campaign
The Breathe Easy: Home Oxygen Fire Safety Campaign has materials for patients, physicians, families, and other caregivers on using home oxygen safely.
- Detailed guide to protecting yourself and loved ones from home oxygen fires in English, Spanish, and Portuguese.
- Home Oxygen Safety poster (11x17 inches).
- Visit the Massachusetts Health Promotion Clearinghouse to order quantities of the pamphlet or poster, free of charge.
- Fire Service Guidelines for Educating Patients about the Dangers of Smoking While Using Home Oxygen
- Home Oxygen Safety presentation (PDF of a PPT) - updated 2018