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West Virginia Office of
Emergency Medical Services

350 Capitol Street
Room 425
Charleston, WV 25301

Toll Free: 1-888--747-8367
OEMS Phone: (304) 558-3956
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Trauma Phone: (304) 290-9307
Trauma Fax: (304) 558-8379

Medical Oxygen Safety

While the information contained in this news article was current and accurate when we posted it, it may not necessarily represent current WVOEMS policy or procedure. If you have any questions, please contact our office at 304-558-3956.

Posted: Thursday, August 23, 2012 3:19 PM



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 breath. 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.


  • There is no safe way to smoke in the home when oxygen is in use. If a patient is on oxygen, they should not smoke.
  • Candles, matches, wood stoves and even sparking toys, can be ignition sources and should not be used in the home.
  • Keep oxygen cylinders at least five feet from a heat source, open flames or electrical devices.
  • Body oil, hand lotion and items containing oil and grease can easily ignite. Keep oil and grease away where oxygen is in use.
  • Never use aerosol sprays containing combustible materials near the oxygen.


  • Oxygen saturates fabric covered furniture, clothing, hair and bedding, making it easier for a fire to start and spread.
  • Smoking materials is the leading heat source resulting in medical oxygen related fires, injuries and deaths.



You can view document from the NFPA here.

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