Home Oxygen Could Raise Burn Risk: Experts

MONDAY Feb. 13, 2012 -- Use of home oxygen in the United States has risen over the past decade, which has led to an increase in the number of patients with medical oxygen-related burn injuries, according to experts at the Burn Center at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.

"Medical oxygen is 100 percent oxygen. This can raise the oxygen levels inside a structure causing many items that would not normally burn to more easily ignite and burn hotter and faster," Donna Joyner, a registered nurse in Trauma/Burn Outreach, said in a medical center news release.

"Burns resulting from the misuse of home oxygen can be life threatening; however, they are preventable," she added.

Joyner and the U.S. Fire Administration offer the following safety tips for the use of home oxygen:

  • Never smoke in a home where medical oxygen is in use. "No smoking" signs should be posted inside and outside the home.
  • All ignition sources -- matches, lighters, candles, gas stoves, appliances, electric razors and hair dryers -- should be kept at least 10 feet away from the point where the oxygen comes out.
  • Do not wear oxygen while cooking. Oils, grease and petroleum products can spontaneously ignite when exposed to high levels of oxygen. Also, do not use oil-based lotions, lip balm or aerosol sprays.
  • Homes with medical oxygen must have working smoke alarms that are tested monthly.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher within reach. If a fire occurs, turn off the oxygen and leave the home.
  • Develop a fire escape plan that includes two ways out of every room and an outside meeting place. Practice the escape plan at least twice a year.

More information

The MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia has more about medical oxygen safety.

Posted: February 2012


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