Best Tips for Storing and Using Oxygen Safely at Home

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Apria

Our mission is to improve the quality of life for our patients at home. To help our patients achieve the best health outcomes, we offer news and health education for sleep apnea, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and non-invasive ventilation (NIV).

How to Get the Most Out of Your Oxygen Therapy to Treat COPD Safely at Home.

Every year, more than 1.5 million Americans use supplemental oxygen therapy at home to treat their COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). For decades, oxygen has been proven to be a safe and effective treatment for this chronic condition. It helps reduce shortness of breath, improves your sleep and mental alertness, and helps you be more active.

Although oxygen is a safe, non-flammable gas, it does support combustion. So some materials may be more likely to catch fire in the presence of oxygen.

“This article is devoted to helping you understand how to store and use oxygen safely in your home so you can benefit from this important therapy,” says Lesley Williams, Apria’s Market Clinical Trainer and a registered respiratory therapist.

Tips for Safely Storing Oxygen

Be Sure the Room Where You Store Oxygen Is Well-Ventilated

Never store cylinders in poorly ventilated, cramped spaces, such as a closet, cabinet, or underneath the bed. Oxygen can accumulate, which poses safety hazards.

Store Oxygen Cylinders in an Upright Position

Oxygen tanks should always be stored upright and firmly secured, such as in an oxygen storage cart or stand. This will prevent the cylinders from falling over, which may damage them and cause oxygen leaks. (Tanks should also be firmly secured when you are using them.) If you cannot store the cylinders secured and upright, they should be stored lying down where they cannot roll into the other.  

If you are using liquid oxygen, don’t lay the tank on its side since the oxygen can evaporate. 

Do not store oxygen tanks under your bed or in the trunk of your car.

Store Oxygen Tanks At Least 10 Feet From Any Heat Source

This includes lighted fireplaces, candles, gas and wood-burning stoves, electric and gas heaters, furnaces, radiators, space heaters, and steam pipes.

Store Oxygen Tanks Near an Exit

They’ll be easier to get in and out of the house, especially during an emergency. But never block an exit – with an oxygen tank or anything else.

Tips for Using Oxygen Safely

Post Warning Signs Throughout Your Home

It’s important to let visitors know that oxygen therapy is being used in your home.  So post signs that say “No Smoking,” ‘No Open Flames,” and “Oxygen In Use” inside and outside your house.

Needless to say, smoking—by you or anyone else—is never allowed in areas where oxygen is in use.

Warning signs also alert emergency personnel, such as the fire department and EMS, that there is oxygen in the home.  Knowing this will help them plan the safest route to extinguish a fire or supply you with emergency oxygen if needed.  

Be Careful in the Kitchen

The fact is, cooking and oxygen tanks don’t mix.

Keep oxygen tanks away from the oven, stove, and any splattering grease. And don’t operate a toaster and toaster oven near oxygen.

Don’t Use Oxygen Near Electrical Appliances

Oxygen and electricity don’t mix. Never use oxygen near the following:

  • Hair dryers or curling irons
  • Electric blankets or heating pads
  • Toys with electric motors
  • Electric razors and electric toothbrushes

Steer Clear of Products Containing Petroleum

Products containing petroleum, grease, or oil can interact with oxygen and may cause burns.

These items include vapor rubs, petroleum jelly, body oil, shaving lotion, skin creams, sunscreen, and even lipstick. Always check the label. Try to use water-based products instead.

Skip Products Containing Alcohol

Aerosol sprays containing alcohol, such as air freshener or hairspray, are very flammable.

Also, beware of alcohol-based hand sanitizers, cleaning fluids, and paint thinners.

Keep Oxygen Tubing Under Wraps

Oxygen tubing can be a tripping hazard. Or a visitor may accidentally step on tubing and cut off the supply of oxygen. Pets sometimes mistake tubing for a chew toy.

Keep oxygen close to the person using the tank and keep tubing out of all pathways to decrease the risk of tripping or falls.

Not Using Your Oxygen? Turn It Off!

When you aren’t using your oxygen tanks, make sure that all valves are fully closed at all times. This has two benefits: it reduces the risk of a fire and saves you money!

Always Be Prepared

Make sure your home’s smoke detectors are working properly. Keep a fire extinguisher handy—and have everyone in your home learn how to use it.

To ensure you have the oxygen you need when you need it, keep back-up tanks available. You may also want to consider purchasing a generator in case of power outages.

Keep your doctor’s contact information as well as the company that supplies your supplemental oxygen close by.

Now, Use Oxygen Safely at Home—and Breathe Easy

Have more questions about using and storing oxygen safely at home? Speak with your doctor or contact Apria. Apria’s Lesley Williams states, “We are a leader in the management of COPD. We’ll be happy to answer any questions or provide any additional information you may need to help you successfully comply with your oxygen therapy.”

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References
1. The COPD Caregiver’s Toolkit. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/sites/default/files/publications/COPD-CaregiversToolkit-Managing-the-Home.pdf.
2. Use Medical Oxygen Safely at Home. University of Michigan Health System.
https://homecare.med.umich.edu/Content/Documents/HomeCare/FirePreventionInfographic.pdf.
3. Higuera, V. (Updated 2020, April 6). Tips for Your Home If You Have COPD. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/copd/home-hacks.
4. Dumain, T. (2022, September 1). Home Oxygen Therapy: What to Know. WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/lung/lung-home-oxygen-therapy. 
5. Leader, D. (Updated 2021, September 4). 5 Safety Tips for Using Supplemental Oxygen Therapy. Verywell Health. https://www.verywellhealth.com/oxygen-safety-tips-914804.
6. Oxygen Therapy: Using Oxygen Safely. American Lung Association. https://www.lung.org/lung-health-diseases/lung-procedures-and-tests/oxygen-therapy/using-oxygen-safely.
7. Everything You Need to Know for Safe Oxygen Therapy. Kindred Hospitals. https://www.kindredhospitals.com/resources/blog-kindred-spirit/2019/01/21/everything-you-need-to-know-for-safe-oxygen-therapy.
8. Dugdale, DC. (Updated 2022, January 17). Oxygen safety. Medline Plus. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000049.htm.
9. (Updated July 2016). Medical oxygen safety. National Fire Protection Association. https://www.nfpa.org/-/media/Files/Public-Education/Resources/Safety-tip-sheets/OxygenSafety.ashx.
10. Home Oxygen Safety. Mass.gov. https://www.mass.gov/service-details/home-oxygen-safety.
11. Stoller JK, et al. Oxygen therapy for patients with COPD: current evidence and the long-term oxygen treatment trial. Chest. 2010 Jul;138(1):179-87. 
12. Branson, RD. Oxygen Therapy in COPD. Respiratory Care. June 2018;63(6):734-748.
13. Jacobs SS, et al. Optimizing Home Oxygen Therapy. An Official American Thoracic Society Workshop Report. Ann Am Thorac Soc. 2018 Dec;15(12):1369-1381.

LEGAL DISCLAIMER: Material in this newsletter is provided for general health education and informational purposes and to provide references to other resources only; it may not apply to you as an individual. While Apria Healthcare believes that the information provided through this communication is accurate and reliable, Apria Healthcare cannot and does not make any such guarantee. It is not intended to be a replacement for professional medical advice, evaluation, diagnosis, services or treatment (collectively, “medical treatment”). Please see your healthcare provider for medical treatment related to you and your specific health condition(s). Never disregard medical advice or delay seeking medical care because of something you have read on or accessed through this website. Reading this newsletter should not be construed to mean that you have a healthcare provider/patient relationship.

About the AuthorApria

Apria is a leading provider of home healthcare equipment and related services across the USA, offering a comprehensive range of products and services for in-home care and delivery of respiratory therapy, obstructive sleep apnea treatment, and negative pressure wound therapy, along with additional equipment and services.

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