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Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation

Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation

Understanding Supplemental Oxygen: Safety, Storage, and Maintenance

Understanding Supplemental Oxygen: Safety, Storage, and Maintenance

For people requiring supplemental oxygen, the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation provides a detailed overview of how to use and care for your system safely and effectively.

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Supplemental oxygen can be life-saving. Its use can also carry risks and proper care is important.

If you’ve just received your first oxygen prescription and chosen your system, then learning how to safely use, store, and clean your equipment may well be at the forefront of your mind. 

The Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation provides some basic guidelines to keep you out of harm’s way and ensure that your system supports your health and wellbeing.*

Ensuring Your Safety

  • Avoid flames, sparks, and embers from:
    • cigarettes, pipes, and cigars
    • matches and lighters
    • gas stoves, pilot lights, and grills
    • frayed electrical cords
  • Keep compressed oxygen tanks 8-10 feet from flames or sparks at all times, and don’t store:
    • in confined spaces such as closets or cabinets
    • in direct sunlight 
    • near any heat sources
  • Don’t stack or store items on stationary concentrators; keep them well-ventilated. 
  • Avoid petroleum-based facial moisturizers; ask your oxygen supplier, doctor, or pharmacist to recommend a nasal lubricant specifically for oxygen users. 
  • Ensure tanks are secured at all times from falling, rolling, or becoming airborne (projectiles).
  • Inform your electrical company and fire department of your supplemental oxygen use in case of power outage.
  • Have home smoke detectors and fire extinguishers.

How Much Oxygen Is Enough?

Start by asking your healthcare provider what your oxygen level should be. There will be a recommended range, and your doctor may advise you to adjust your oxygen flow to keep it in that range during certain activities. 

Your physician may also ask you to use a pulse oximeter to track your oxygen levels. Be sure to inform your doctor of any changes in your oxygen levels or requirements.

Caring for Your Equipment

Your oxygen supplier should provide clear care instructions for your specific oxygen system. 

Some maintenance tips to keep in mind include regularly:

  • Changing the stationary system long tubing and nasal cannula
  • Cleaning the filter (if your oxygen concentrator uses one)
  • Cleaning your humidifier (using only distilled water to fill it)
  • Cleaning your face masks

Ask your oxygen supplier for cleaning instructions and maintenance guidance for your specific equipment. The supplier should arrange to service your concentrator annually. If it’s not specified in your contract, ask that it be included.

For more information, refer to the PFF’s guide to supplemental oxygen use.

*Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation. Oxygen Basics: A step-by-step guide to supplemental oxygen [Digital booklet]. In Disease Education Brochures.

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