Supplemental oxygen can help patients who have compromised lung function due to emphysema, COPD and other chronic conditions to breathe easier. Today’s lightweight, portable oxygen systems allow patients on oxygen to travel, shop and live independent, mobile lives while still enjoying the benefits of supplemental oxygen. If you use oxygen or if you live in a household where someone uses supplemental oxygen, you should never smoke anywhere near the equipment, as doing so puts you and others in considerable danger.
Dangers to Yourself
Pure oxygen in highly flammable, and striking a match or holding a lit cigarette anywhere near it can start a fire. Even when the oxygen delivery system is turned off, oxygen from the system has probably built up around you while you were using the system. According to Massachusetts General Hospital, oxygen molecules can cling to your hair, skin and clothing and ignite upon contact with any source of flame, including a cigarette. The results would be severe burns to your body, particularly to your face and hands. (Reference 2) The National Fire Protection Association reports that between 2003 and 2006, hospitals treated an estimated 1,190 people for burns related to home oxygen use. Eighty-nine percent of those treated suffered facial burns. (Reference 1)
Danger to Property
Fires caused by smoking and oxygen can cause a lot of property damage. This may range to smoke and water damage to structures caused by efforts to put out the fire to complete destruction of buildings. If you live in an apartment and cause a fire due to smoking while using oxygen, you could destroy not only your own home but those of your neighbors around you.