Overview: Portable medical oxygen in the home has grown over the past decade. Medical oxygen adds a higher percentage of oxygen to the air a patient uses to breathe.
Fire needs oxygen to burn. If a fire should start in an oxygen-enriched area, the material burning will burn more quickly. Homes where medical oxygen is used need specific fire safety rules to keep people safe from fire and burns.
Between 2012 and 2016, 16 Tennessee residents died from home fires where medical oxygen equipment was involved in ignition. Only heating and cooking equipment was involved in more fire death incidents.
Resources: The following resources are available:
16.1.1 A patient on oxygen should not smoke.
16.1.2 Never smoke in a home where medical oxygen is used. Medical oxygen can cause material to ignite more easily and make fires burn at a faster rate than normal. It can make an existing fire burn faster and hotter.
16.1.4 Keep oxygen cylinders at least 5 feet (1.5 meters) from a heat source, open flames, or electrical devices.
16.1.8 Never use a candle, match, lighter, or other open flame; a fireplace, stove, or other device fueled by gas, kerosene, wood, or coal; or a sparking toy when medical oxygen is in use. Medical oxygen can cause material to ignite more easily and make fires burn at a faster rate than normal. It can make an existing fire burn faster and hotter.