The Dos and Don’ts of Home Oxygen Concentrator Safety

Feb 24, 2022

The Dos and Don’ts of Home Oxygen Concentrator Safety

Supplemental oxygen is used to treat a variety of medical conditions not only in the hospital but at home as well. Oxygen concentrators — along with liquid oxygen tanks and oxygen cylinders — are one of the most common sources of oxygen therapy.

Oxygen concentrators are designed to be safe and effective. However, if you are using an oxygen concentrator, it’s important to understand the potential dangers of these medical devices. Doing so will allow you to take the proper oxygen concentrator safety precautions.

Below you’ll find an overview of some of the most commonly encountered oxygen concentrator dangers. We have also included a simple list of dos and don’ts to help keep you from harm, as well as the answers to a few common oxygen concentrator questions such as, “Can you use oxygen in the shower?”

Are oxygen concentrators dangerous?

Oxygen concentrators are designed for at-home use. However, they can still be dangerous if they aren’t used correctly. Prominent oxygen concentrator dangers include:

1. Domestic fires

Oxygen is an extremely flammable gas and can easily start a fire. Domestic fires caused by oxygen can cause property damage, personal injury and even fatalities.

2. Bodily injury

Oxygen concentrators and tanks are highly pressurised. This can cause them to become dangerous projectiles if damaged.

3. Infection

Improper use of oxygen equipment can lead to illness or infection. It’s important to change your nasal cannula and tubing according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Practising proper hand hygiene can also help prevent infection and illness.

4. Oxygen toxicity or hypoxia

Too much oxygen or too little oxygen can be incredibly dangerous and even deadly. Supplemental oxygen is a prescription. Always follow your doctor’s instructions regarding how much oxygen to use and how often.

Oxygen concentrator safety precautions: Dos and Don’ts of at-home oxygen safety

General safety precautions

  • DO let your insurance providers know that you will be using supplemental oxygen at home. This will help ensure you are covered in the event of an accident.
  • DO use proper tubing and check it regularly for signs of wear and tear.
  • DO clean your tubing regularly and replace it as needed.
  • DO NOT smoke or allow others around you to smoke during oxygen therapy. Smoking with an oxygen concentrator is one of the most dangerous things you can do and will likely result in serious injury.
  • DO NOT use oxygen equipment near open flames. Maintain at least two metres between your concentrator and any heat source.
  • DO NOT use aerosol products (e.g. hairspray, air fresheners, etc.) around your concentrator. These products are often flammable.
  • DO NOT use petroleum-based self-care products around your concentrator. This includes petroleum-based lip care products and petroleum jellies.
  • DO NOT adjust the concentration of oxygen you are receiving without first speaking to your doctor.

At-home safety tips

  • DO know where your oxygen tubing is at all times. This will help prevent you from tripping over it or becoming entangled in it, which could disrupt the flow of oxygen.
  • DO store your concentrator away from heat sources (e.g. space heaters, fireplaces, vents, electric blankets, etc.).
  • DO alert visitors and other occupants in your home when you are using an oxygen concentrator.
  • DO ensure your home is outfitted with a working smoke detector and fire extinguisher.
  • DO NOT plug your concentrator into a power strip. Your concentrator should have its own outlet.
  • DO NOT obstruct the vents on your concentrator or store the concentrator in an area with limited ventilation while it is being used.
  • DO NOT cover your concentrator with blankets, clothing, draperies, etc.

Travelling with an oxygen concentrator

  • DO properly store your concentrator to avoid injuries and prevent damage.
  • DO keep your device away from bodies of water and be aware of the weather. Don’t allow your oxygen concentrator to get wet.
  • DO keep your portable oxygen concentrator in a well-ventilated area.
  • DO NOT leave your oxygen equipment in a vehicle when not in use.

If you have concerns or questions about using an oxygen concentrator, there are several resources available. Reach out to your medical care provider, oxygen supplier, local fire department or the team at Mega Medical for more information.

Common questions regarding home oxygen concentrator safety

Can you use oxygen while in the shower?

You should not expose your oxygen concentrator to water. If you must receive supplemental oxygen while washing, take precautions to protect your oxygen device. Use extended tubing and a detachable showerhead and turn on your bathroom exhaust fan.

Can you use a portable oxygen concentrator while cooking?

That depends on the type of cooking. You should never use an oxygen concentrator around open flames, such as gas stoves, bonfires, barbecues and candles. Cold food preparation and using a microwave are safe to do while wearing oxygen.

Can you use an oxygen concentrator while sleeping?

Yes, many people require oxygen while sleeping. However, it is best to speak with your health care provider to determine which oxygen source is best for overnight use.