Lessons from Cecil
Supplemental Oxygen Therapy -
Some Safety Tips
Those of us that are on oxygen have a responsibility to ourselves as well as others to know the safety rules for using and handling it. I am going to post a few tips that have been accumulated by several members and combined for our use.

The first and most important is the handling of cylinders and equipment safely. Always lay a bottle on its side or have it in a rack or container so that it can't be turned over or dropped. If the head of a cylinder is knocked off it can go through a brick wall and kill someone on the other side.

 A few good tips for storing bottles is to have some sort of rack or container so they can't be tipped over.A plastic container that is designed to hold coca cola bottles, 2 liters, will work perfect for six "B" cylinders.

When transporting oxygen in your car always secure the bottle in some fashion so that in case of an accident it will not become a missile. I place mine in the drivers seat beside me and secure it with my seat belt when I strap it on. Some people carry them in the passengers seat secured with the seat belt.

 Another trick I use is I carry a small "E" cylinder for emergencies in case I run out.

 I have a fire extinguisher bracket bolted to the floorboard in front of my drivers seat. The cylinder fits perfect in it.

They should be stored in a well ventilated area.Never carry an oxygen bottle in the trunk of your car.If you should get rear ended then it can be damaged and become a flying missile. Carry it in the back floorboard, secured, or in the passengers seat. If you do this and get rear ended the trunk area will become a buffer zone between the vehicle and the interior of your car.

When using oxygen never get a flame or spark with in five feet of the oxygen outlet at your nose. This is the standard rule.However, common sense says there are always exceptions

.For example, it is perfectly safe to use oxygen while cooking. A good way to do this is to turn the cannula to the back of your head instead of under your chin. Then secure it to one side of your waist area with a pin or clip.

Never bend over an open flame when cooking. Oxygen will not burn. However, it can become a volatile igniter to any material that is struck by the heat.

A personal example: I know someone who was grinding with an electric grinder. He was using a face mask and helmet the spark just happened to hit at just the right angle and the cannula ignited it took three months for the 2nd degree burns to heal.

Think of the principle of the welding torch with oxygen and acetylene. The oxygen intensifies the gas to the melting point of medal. It does the same thing when sparks hit oxygen soaked combustible material.

Another good point is never lay a cannula or oxygen source on any thing that is combustible and leave it there for any amount of time. The combustible material will become oxygen saturated and will be extremely susceptible to any sparks for some time after you remove the oxygen source.

An example would be if you laid your cannula on your bed or the carpet. If it became saturated any spark could ignite the material. Bear in mind, I am not talking about a few minutes but a few hours or longer.

Oxygen is as safe as we handle it.When using the portable oxygen that you carry on a roll around cart always try to lay it down when you are sitting down or in a crowded area. These are fairly stable but can be knocked over if hit just right. When I use mine I have a small rubber strap that I use to strap it to my chair or something stable when in a congested area.

Oxygen is perfectly safe when handled properly and the key is to know how to handle it and respect it. A good site for oxygen usage is here at

Portable Oxygen - a User's Perspective http://www.portableoxygen.org/