Using portable oxygen concentrators is a safe and effective way to manage the symptoms of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) while providing users with a higher level of mobility that would otherwise not have been possible. However, while oxygen by itself is safe and non-inflammable, it facilitates combustion, which means in an oxygen-rich environment, any flammable materials that are in the vicinity will burn more readily.
Safety Against Fire Hazard
- To prevent any fire-related accidents, it is important to take certain precautions when using a portable oxygen concentrator. With the proper precautions in place, these devices are safe to use when travelling by car or even by plane.
- Do not use a portable oxygen concentrator in the vicinity of any open flame sources such as candles, matches or cigarette lighters.
- Exercise caution around all heat sources including ovens, portable electric heaters or gas ovens.
- Keep a distance of at least 6 feet between the POC source and any heat or open flame source.
- Do not smoke and do not allow anybody else to smoke when you are using a concentrator. Ask smokers to step outside the room or at least out of range of the unit if they desperately need a smoke.
- Take the equipment with you when you reach your destination. Never leave it in the car unattended.
- Never use the POC when the device itself is in the trunk of the car.
- Keep a fire extinguisher handy in your home.
- Make sure all smoke detectors are working properly in your home.
Health Safety Precautions
The flow rate on your oxygen system should never be adjusted without first getting your doctor’s OK.
When you are using a portable oxygen concentrator, it is advisable to only used water-based creams and lotions. Petroleum based skin care products are best avoided.
Oxygen is a prescription drug and should be treated as such. Use only the amount prescribed by your doctor. Do not adjust your intake arbitrarily. Taking in too much oxygen could be dangerous and anything less could be ineffective.
Caring For Your Concentrator To Prevent Problems
Cleaning and maintaining your concentrator regularly will ensure it is working at peak performance. It is will also minimise the likelihood of any fire-related or other accident. Adhere to the manufacturer’s instruction for cleaning the apparutus.
Make sure there is nothing blocking the unit’s inlets or outlets at any time.
When travelling outside the home carry the portable unit only in the manufacturer’s case or one that is approved by the manufacturer.
Storing Your Portable Oxygen Concentrator
POCs contain pressurised oxygen, which can be extremely dangerous when stored incorrectly. To avoid any accidental explosions, it is crucial to store these tanks safely when not in use. POC tanks should be stored upright and secured in an environment that is free from any sources of heat or ignition.
When maintained, used and stored strictly in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions, a portable oxygen concentrator is very safe to use.