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Home Oxygen Safety

Before prescribing oxygen it is important that you carry out a risk assessment to ensure that the patient and, or carer, understands the safety advice around the use of home oxygen, this includes the dangers of smoking cigarettes and e-cigarettes near to their oxygen equipment.  

Here are some of the key areas to consider:


The Fire Triangle

To start a fire, three things are needed:

  • Fuel - something to burn
  • Heat or spark - something to set it alight
  • Oxygen - to support the fire and keep it going


Fire Risk

Materials burn much faster in oxygen than in air alone, it is therefore important that patients:

  • NEVER smoke or let anyone else smoke near them when using their oxygen equipment, this includes E-Cigarettes
  • NEVER charge an E-Cigarette or similar device close to them when using their oxygen equipment or near the equipment itself
  • NEVER use their oxygen equipment near an open fire or naked flames, such as matches, lighters, gas cookers or candles (within 3 metres)
  • NEVER use their oxygen near other heat sources such as electric or gas heaters or boilers (within 1.5 metres)

Oxygen Saturation (Enrichment)

When oxygen equipment is turned on, oxygen can build up unnoticed on materials such as clothing, hair, fabrics, wood and paper. This can cause them to burn more easily if they catch fire.  Because of this, patients should:

  • ALWAYS turn off their oxygen equipment when they are not using it
  • ALWAYS use or store their oxygen equipment in a well ventilated area
  • NEVER place their oxygen equipment near curtains or cover it with coats, blankets or other materials that may restrict the air circulation around it
  • NEVER leave their cannula or mask on the bed or chair when oxygen equipment is switched on

Storage and Usage

Patients should ALWAYS follow the advice given to them by their technician about the safest place to store and use their oxygen equipment.  It is important that they:

  • ALWAYS ensure their oxygen equipment is stored in a well ventilated area, kept clean, dry and away from any sources of heat or fire e.g. convection heaters, gas or electric fires and cookers
  • NEVER store their oxygen equipment close to paint, oil, grease or any domestic heating gases e.g. in a garage or shed where these items may be stored
  • NEVER keep combustible materials near their oxygen equipment e.g. newspapers and magazines and other items that may burn easily

This information applies to all places where patients use or store their equipment, and when travelling with it.

Oils and Grease

  • NEVER use oils or grease near their oxygen equipment
  • NEVER use Vaseline or other oil based creams when using their oxygen equipment
  • ONLY use water based soluble creams or products
  • ALWAYS make sure their hands are clean when using their oxygen equipment

Fire and Rescue Services

The patient’s details will be shared with the local Fire and Rescue Service so that in the unlikely event of a fire, the Fire and Rescue Services know that there is home oxygen equipment at the address.

The patient may receive a home safety visit from their local Fire and Rescue Service to help manage any risks and plan how to evacuate the building in the event of a fire. It is important that they allow this to take place.

Trip Hazards

The patient’s technician will provide them with a safe amount of tubing to meet their needs around the home up to a maximum distance of 15 metres.

Patients need to be aware that any oxygen tubing is a potential trip hazard for them and others.  

They should ALWAYS:

Take care to ensure their tubing does not get kinked, damaged, trapped in doors or crushed under equipment and furniture as this could affect the flow of their oxygen

Ensure their tubing does not pass close to naked flames including gas fires, gas cookers and candles, or hot items such as, electric cookers and electric heaters. These could damage or melt the tubing and cut off the oxygen supply or even cause a fire

  • NEVER modify or tamper with their own oxygen tubing by adding to it, or changing components
  • NEVER remove or tamper with the firebreaks in the tubing