Home Oxygen Safety


State of West Virginia Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety

Earl Ray Tomblin, Governor


1207 Quarrier St, 2nd Floor

Charleston, WV 25301

Phone: (304) 558-2191

Fax: (304) 558-2537


The following information is provided by the San Diego Hospice and National Fire Protection Administration (NFPA).

It is important for people using home medical oxygen and for their caregivers to practice oxygen safety. It is a necessary task to prevent injury to the oxygen user. Although oxygen is a non-flammable gas, learning how to properly store and use your home oxygen system is vital because oxygen can accelerate burning during a fire.

• During 2002-2005, oxygen equipment was involved in an estimated average of 209 home fires reported to local fire departments per year.

• These fires caused an average of 46 civilian deaths and 62 civilian injuries per year. One of every five such fires resulted in death.

• Smoking is by far the leading cause of burns, reported fires, deaths, and injuries involving home medical oxygen.

Fire Safety Tips

• Oxygen is not a flammable gas and will not explode. However, oxygen can cause fires to burn things faster and ignite easier.

• NEVER use or store oxygen in a confined space such as a cabinet or closet.

• DO NOT use petroleum-based ointments or lotions in or around your nose, such as Vaseline, Vicks, Chapstick, etc. Oxygen can react violently with these oily substances and can cause burns.

• Keep all oxygen equipment at least 15 feet from any type of open flame. Take care to avoid open flames while using oxygen. This includes matches, fireplaces, barbeques, stoves, space heaters, candles, etc.

• DO NOT SMOKE within 15 feet of the oxygen set-up or an oxygen patient.

• Have working smoke alarms installed throughout your home.

• Prepare a home escape plan for you and your family in the event of a fire.

Oxygen Storage and Handling

• Oxygen tanks should be stored in a stand or cart to prevent tipping and falling.• Store extra, unsecured tanks by placing them flat on the floor. Do not allow tanks to stand or lean in an upright position while unsecured.

• DO NOT store oxygen systems in unventilated areas such as closets or cabinets.

• NEVER drape clothing over oxygen systems.

• DO NOT store oxygen systems in the trunk of your car.

For more information on Home Oxygen Safety and Handling visit:

www.usfa.fema.gov  www.nfpa.org  www.armscare.com


Carol Nolte, Public Education Division, STATE FIRE MARSHAL’S OFFICE
(304) 558-2191 Ext. 53223