Use of Oxygen at Home Could Heighten Burn Risk

Use of Oxygen at Home Could Heighten Burn RiskIn the past decade, use of home oxygen has risen significantly, leading to a higher amount of patients reporting medical oxygen-related burn injuries, experts at the Burn Center at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center say.

"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," said Donna Joyner, a registered nurse in Trauma/Burn Outreach at the medical center. "Burns resulting from the misuse of home oxygen can be life threatening; however, they are preventable."

According to HealthDay, Joyner and the U.S. Fire Administration have written a set of safety tips that could prevent burns in home oxygen use.

The USFA states that smoking should never occur in a home where medical oxygen is being used. To enforce this rule, "No smoking" signs should be posted in visible areas around the home. All sources of ignition, including matches, lighters, candles, gas stoves, appliances, electric razors and hairdryers, should never be within 10 feet of the oxygen tank, specifically where the oxygen is let out.

It is important to not wear oxygen while cooking, as oils, grease and petroleum products can spontaneously ignite when they are introduced to high levels of oxygen. Use of oil-based lotions, lip balm and aerosol sprays should also be avoided.

If oxygen is present in a home, it must have working smoke alarms that are tested monthly, and a fire extinguisher should always be kept in reach. In the event of a fire, oxygen should be turned off and distanced from the flame. A fire escape plan should also be developed that includes two exits from every room and a coordinated outside meeting place. These escape plans should be practiced at least twice a year.

According to the National Library of Medicine, oxygen should never be stored in a trunk, box or small closet. If using oxygen, it is important to let the local fire department, electric company and telephone company know about the condition, as they are obligated to restore power to a house during a blackout sooner than other homes.

Neighbors, friends and family should also be made aware of oxygen use, as they can help in the event of a fire emergency or serious burn.