Oxygen tanks come in various sizes. Depending on your flow rate (how much you use), you will likely need more than one tank. It’s a good idea to have a second tank available for when you run out. A larger stationary tank (M size tank) is common from in-home oxygen suppliers but they can be unwieldy. E size tanks are smaller and easily moved around for use around the home or in the workplace. At 15 lpm, an E tank will usually last only 4-6 attacks, so it’s a good idea to have several. Changing over the regulator to a fresh tank is very simple and only takes a couple of minutes. Many people opt for having a large stationary tank with a long hose to enable movement around the house and several E tanks for extended mobility. Remember to ALWAYS turn off your oxygen at the tank valve after each use, not with the regulator.
Once you have all of your components, your home supplier will usually set it up for you. However, it’s important to know how to do this yourself since you will undoubtedly need to change tanks at some point. Doing so in the heat of an attack can be somewhat challenging if you have no experience with it.
Setting up your tank properly is important to avoid any errant spillage of oxygen. The simple solution is checking your setup before opening the valve to make sure all hose connections are tight and that your regulator is firmly attached to the cylinder. Then open the tank valve slowly and set the regulator at a low flow setting, ie. 5 lpm. Listen and feel for any leaks around the regulator and hose connections. If you hear oxygen leaking anywhere but at the mask itself, close the tank valve and correct it. When using oxygen, take extra care not to allow the oxygen to flow freely for any extended period. Always turn oxygen off at the tank valve, not with the regulator. If you do happen to spill some oxygen due to a faulty regulator setup or other problem, make sure the area gets plenty of fresh air via an open window or door. Fluff out any bed linens, pillows, or clothing.
Cylinder Oxygen Safety Precautions
Oxygen is very safe to use when you create the proper environment. Oxygen is not in itself flammable but can increase the flammability of anything near it. Oxygen can saturate bedding or clothing, increasing the likelihood of a rapid fire if exposed to flame or spark. It will also cause anything that is burning to burn hotter and faster.
By using the following safety rules, you will create a safe environment when you use your oxygen:
- HEAT – Keep all oxygen equipment, including tubing and cannulas, at least 10 feet away from any source of heat. Common heat sources to be concerned with are: any open flames, stoves, space heaters, furnaces, radiators, candles, incense, windows exposed to direct sunlight, smoking pipes, cigars and cigarettes.
- COOKING SAFEGUARDS – Do not cook with a gas or electric stove while using oxygen. It is best to use a microwave oven or make other arrangements for your meals.
- SMOKING – For your health and safety, as well as keeping the equipment in good working order, smoking should not be permitted in the same room where oxygen is in use or stored. You will be provided with “NO SMOKING” signs that should be placed at the main entrance of the residence as well as the room where oxygen is primarily used and stored. Even if there is no smoking in your residence, the placement of the signs will alert emergency responders of the presence of oxygen equipment in the home.
- PETROLEUM PRODUCTS – Never use grease, oil or other petroleum products on or near any oxygen equipment, including tubing and cannulas. Flammable materials such as oil, grease, aerosols, paint, gasoline and solvents could ignite and burn when introduced to oxygen. Never use wax or furniture polish on or near any oxygen equipment. Under certain conditions, it is possible for oil based toiletries with a spark from an electrical appliance, such as a hair dryer, electric razor or heating pad, to ignite when combined with concentrated oxygen. Simply using oil based hair products, hand lotions or petroleum jelly (Vaseline) when handling oxygen equipment can place you at risk. Use only water based cosmetics or creams.
- CYLINDER STORAGE & STABILITY – Do not store oxygen cylinders in a small, unventilated area such as a closet or car trunk. Any venting oxygen could create a fire hazard even in a large, unventilated area. Oxygen cylinders need to be secured in a stand or cart at all times to keep from falling over. The weight of the cylinder can damage property and people if it were to fall on someone or something. If the cylinder neck or valve were broken or damaged, the high pressure being released can cause it to move about in a destructive and uncontrolled manner. If a stand or rack is not available, the cylinder must be stored lying down in a location where they cannot be damaged or present a tripping hazard.
- FIRE SAFETY – Be sure to have a functioning smoke detector and fire extinguisher in your home and remember to change the batteries regularly. A good method to remember is to change your smoke detector batteries every spring and fall with the time change.
- HOME ADDRESS – Make sure that your home address can be easily seen from the street both day and night. Please ensure that the numbers are easy to spot and read from the street. This will aid not only delivery personnel, but also local emergency services in locating your residence easily.