With snow, slush, and winter winds pummeling you from all directions, nothing sounds better than staying hunkered down in a cozy home. If you opt to stay indoors rather than braving the weather, be sure that your home is a safe space for your oxygen therapy equipment. Take the following precautions to stay secure while you’re snuggled up with your oxygen therapy equipment this winter:

  • Avoid overheating: Gas stoves, woodstoves, candles, fireplaces, and other sources of open flame are serious fire hazards for medical oxygen sources. Even space heaters and vents for home central heating can be a danger if exposed too directly for too long. Keep your medical oxygen unit at least 8-10 feet away from these heat sources to prevent explosions from the highly combustible concentrated oxygen.
  • Steer clear of oils: Chapped lips and dry skin are unfortunate marks of the season. When you’re picking a lotion to replenish parched skin, stay away from petroleum-based ointments (think drug store lip balms, Vaseline, vapor oils, etc.). These substances can create violent reactions with medical oxygen, leading to burns around areas of application. Opt for aloe vera, cocoa butter, or water-based products instead, especially for dry nasal passages.
  • Store medical oxygen tanks wisely: You know that your in-use oxygen tank should be secured in a cart or a stand upright to prevent tipping. But what about spare tanks? Never store them in cabinets, closets or other unventilated areas, next to heat sources, or under curtains, clothing or fabrics. If a cart to store the oxygen tank upright is not available, store tanks flat on its side and safe from rolling. Store empty tanks separate from full ones.
  • Insulate in the outdoors: If you do venture outside, your oxygen therapy device will need as much TLC as you do in frigid temps. Your tubing is prone to cracks when transferring from heat to cold quickly, so tuck them carefully inside of your clothing. Additionally, an abrupt drop in temperature creates damaging condensation in your tank, so bundle your device into a blanket or thermal covering before you step out of the house to retain heat. (Same goes for your batteries – they lose juice in cold temperatures, so keep them insulated and always travel with an extra.)

For additional home safety tips for your portable oxygen therapy, contact our oxygen and respiratory specialists at Johns Hopkins Home Care Group at 410-288-8960 or email oxygen-coe@lists.johnshopkins.edu, to answer any of your questions.

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