Fire marshal: take care around oxygen equipment
Considering the number of people in the state and nationally who use oxygen therapy, the Maryland fire marshal has put out some tips to avoid a catastrophe by fire.
“All Marylanders need to be aware of the potential hazards involving medical oxygen use,” said State Fire Marshal William E. Barnard in a statement. “Oxygen itself is not flammable, however, an oxygen enriched environment can cause materials to ignite more readily and burn at a faster rate than normal.”
Hair, plastic, skin oils, clothing and furniture catch fire at lower temperatures when there is extra oxygen. The fires burn hotter and faster.
Cooking and candles were heat sources in many fires, but smoking was the leading factor in fires in home where oxygen is used, said the fire marshal citing according a National Fire Protection Association report. The heat enabled the ignition of about six in 10 of such fires.
In total, from 2002-2005, oxygen equipment was involved in 209 home fires. They caused an average of 46 deaths and 62 injuries a year. Even more people were treated for burns each years -- 1,190.
+Don’t allow open flames near oxygen, including those from the stove or candles.
+Don’t smoke when oxygen is in use.
+Keep petroleum based products including lotions that can self-ignite away from oxygen.
+If you must smoke, turn off the oxygen supply for 10 minutes first so high concentrations drop before going outside to smoke.
+Post “no smoking” signs inside and outside of the house.
+Test smoke alarms monthly.
+Put a fire escape plan in place with two exits and practice.
+Fully learn how the oxygen therapy equipment works.
For more information on fire safety, call 1-800-525-3124 or go to www.firemarshal.state.md.us.