The official blog of the Lung Institute.
Many people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), pulmonary fibrosis or other chronic lung diseases rely on supplemental oxygen or oxygen therapy. Oxygen is essential to a properly functioning body, but many people with lung disease aren’t able to get enough oxygen from air alone. If you use supplemental oxygen, it’s important to know the basics about oxygen therapy safety. With colder winter months quickly approaching, knowing the best oxygen therapy tips during winter will keep you healthier and safer.
Avoid Sparks and Open Flames
Oxygen has the potential to be a fire hazard, so avoid sparks and open flames. Take these steps to protect yourself from an accidental fire:
- Keep oxygen canisters at least 5-10 feet away from open flames such as gas stoves, lighted fireplaces, woodstoves and candles.
- Electric razors are a possible source of sparks, so avoid using them.
- Post “No Smoking” signs in every room where oxygen is in use.
- Don’t smoke in a home or car where oxygen is in use.
- Do not use oil, grease or petroleum-based products on the equipment or yourself, especially while using oxygen. These are highly flammable materials.
- Moisturize your skin with products that contain cocoa butter, aloe vera or other similar products.
- Check moisturizer labels before purchase to avoid using petroleum-based products.
- Create and practice escape and rescue plans in case of a fire.
Keep Heaters in Proper Working Order
It is safe to use your oxygen around heaters as long as there aren’t any electric sparks. Before using your heater, ensure that it is in proper working order. Consider asking a friend or family member to check your heaters before you need to use them. Remember to keep your oxygen cylinder secured, in a well-ventilated area and away from open flames or direct heat sources. Ask your oxygen supplier about types of space heaters they recommend using.
Turn Off Your Oxygen When Not in Use
Of all the oxygen therapy tips, this is one of the most important: turn off your oxygen when you’re not using it. For example, if you place your nasal cannula or mask on your bed to walk to the kitchen for a glass of water, turn off your oxygen first and then start it again when you return.
Oxygen is absorbed into textile products such as blankets, clothes, bedding or cushions, making them more flammable. Oxygen remains in your clothing and other materials for up to 20 minutes after it has been turned off, so be careful around open flames or sparks.
Allow 5-10 minutes after turning off an oxygen concentrator for the oxygen to dissipate.
Have Your Home Ready
Make sure your home is ready for you to safely use your oxygen therapy. Ask your doctor and oxygen therapy supplier for their oxygen therapy tips. Secure your oxygen cylinder to a solidly fixed object to avoid accidentally knocking over the tank, allowing gas to escape and turning the tank into a missile. Always plug your oxygen concentrator into a wall outlet and not a power strip or extension cord.
Many people need to take their oxygen with them as they walk around their house. In this case, keep fire extinguishers in more than one location in your home. Always make sure you have a fire extinguisher close to you.
Ask a friend or family member to check your home’s smoke detectors. Perform monthly tests. When needed, install fresh batteries.
Make sure everyone in your home understands your oxygen needs, how oxygen therapy works, how to safely use oxygen and what to do in case of an emergency.
Have an In Case of Emergency Plan
Prepare for the possibility of an emergency ahead of time, so you and your family are ready. Create and practice an emergency plan before an emergent situation occurs. Here are some in case of emergency supplemental oxygen tips:
- Inform your local power company that you are oxygen-dependent. Many power companies offer people who are oxygen-dependent priority service or even a backup generator. Ask for a priority service listing.
- Talk with your oxygen supply company, and ask them to help you figure out how much oxygen you will need in case of an emergency power outage. The company may provide you with one or more oxygen cylinders to have on hand. Ask the company to label the extra cylinders with how many minutes of oxygen are in each.
- Contact your local fire and police departments. Let them know you are oxygen-dependent. If your backup plan fails, you may be able to use them as a backup power source.
In case of emergency, call 911.
Practicing the Best Oxygen Therapy Tips
Knowing the best oxygen therapy tips only helps if you practice them. If you’re unsure about something pertaining to your oxygen therapy, contact your oxygen supply company to ask for their help.
Many people who use oxygen therapy also report feeling better after having cellular therapy. Under the supervision of their doctors, some people have been able to reduce their oxygen therapy use after treatment. If you or a loved one has COPD, emphysema, pulmonary fibrosis or another chronic lung disease and would like to learn more about cellular therapy, feel free to contact us at (800) 729-3065. With these oxygen therapy tips, you’ll be able to have safe and warm winter season.