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Fire & Life Safety
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Home oxygen / thermal fuses
Most home oxygen fires are caused by patients smoking while on oxygen. According to the American Burn Association:
- Smoking is the leading cause of burns, fires, and deaths involving home oxygen.
- 90% of smokers who were burned while using home oxygen suffered facial burns.
- On average, one person dies every four days from smoking while on home oxygen.
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), medical oxygen can cause material to ignite more easily and make fires burn at a faster rate than normal. It can make a fire burn faster and hotter. If medical oxygen or an oxygen tank is used in the home, the amount of oxygen in the air, furniture, clothing, hair, and bedding can increase, making it easier for a fire to spread. This means that there is a higher risk of fires and burns.
There are several simple safety tips to consider if you or someone in your family is using medical oxygen at home. The NFPA suggests:
- A patient on oxygen should not smoke.
- Never smoke where medical oxygen is used.
- Post “No Smoking” and “No Open Flames” signs inside and outside the home to remind residents and guests not to smoke.
- Keep oxygen cylinders at least 5 feet (1.5 meters) from a heat source, open flames, or electrical devices.
- Body oil, hand lotion, and items containing oil and grease can easily burn. Keep oil and grease away from where oxygen is in use.
- Never use aerosol sprays containing combustible materials near the oxygen.
- Where medical oxygen is in use, never use a sparking toy, an open flame such as a match or lighter, a fireplace or stove, or any other device fueled by gas, kerosene, wood, or coal.
Spokane Valley Fire Department (SVFD) received a FEMA Fire Prevention and Safety grant last fall to help save the lives of those citizens who smoke while on medical oxygen. The grant dollars, along with a purchase directly from MultiCare Valley Hospital, will help SVFD acquire thermal fuses or “Firebreak” devices that will be provided to individuals on in home (medical) oxygen to help reduce fire fatality and burn risks. The thermal fuse can isolate the oxygen flow and extinguish a fire tracking back along the oxygen delivery tubing. These devices are installed directly in the oxygen delivery circuit and at the interface with the oxygen supply, delivery equipment.
If you or a family member need a thermal fuse installed in your home, please click here and complete the request form.