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Oxygen and Fire Safety
Old 10-12-2006, 04:16 PM   #1
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Oxygen and Fire Safety

I'm up here at my sister's helping take care of my Mom again, and Mom has one of those oxygen setups (machine with long tube that goes to her nose). On the front of the house is a sign that says "Oxygen in use. No open flames, sparks," etc.

But my sister sometimes has fires in the fireplace. I want to limit my giving of advice -- should I tell her to stop having fires? That is, is there a real danger, or is it a CYA by the oxygen company??
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Re: Oxygen and Fire Safety
Old 10-12-2006, 04:24 PM   #2
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Re: Oxygen and Fire Safety

Quote:
Originally Posted by TromboneAl
I'm up here at my sister's helping take care of my Mom again, and Mom has one of those oxygen setups (machine with long tube that goes to her nose). On the front of the house is a sign that says "Oxygen in use. No open flames, sparks," etc.

But my sister sometimes has fires in the fireplace. I want to limit my giving of advice -- should I tell her to stop having fires? That is, is there a real danger, or is it a CYA by the oxygen company??
PUT - THE - FIRE - OUT!

100% oxygen turns any burning substance into a poor man's flamethrower.

In this case the oxygen company is attempting to cover your @ss...or to try to prevent you from burning it off.


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Re: Oxygen and Fire Safety
Old 10-12-2006, 04:48 PM   #3
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Re: Oxygen and Fire Safety

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Originally Posted by TromboneAl
But my sister sometimes has fires in the fireplace. I want to limit my giving of advice -- should I tell her to stop having fires? That is, is there a real danger, or is it a CYA by the oxygen company??
Yes.

The O2 going into your mother is probably a small amount that readily mixes with the ambient air and wouldn't normally cause any problems. If I was her I wouldn't smoke cigarettes or try to light a pipe, but she's probably fine sitting in the same room as the fireplace.

Of course that's a slippery slope. If she gets too close to the fire or even leans over it to adjust a log or the flue then the heat & nearby flames could bridge the gap.

And if the oxygen bottle blows a leak while a fire is present in the room, you'll all be incinerated before you're even aware of the problem.

I've seen the "after" photos from oxygen fires. It's just not worth the risk.
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Re: Oxygen and Fire Safety
Old 10-12-2006, 04:53 PM   #4
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Re: Oxygen and Fire Safety

Al, I have to give you credit. You really know how to heat up a FIRE discussion.

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Re: Oxygen and Fire Safety
Old 10-12-2006, 07:40 PM   #5
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Re: Oxygen and Fire Safety

The device that provides the oxygen is probably a 'concentrator.' It concentrates oxygen from the ambient air into nearly pure oxygen. If the concentrator and patient are in a relatively open area there isn't likely to be significant build up of oxygen except around the patient's face. The oxygen simply diffuses back into the air from which it came. Smoking is a definite no-no but a fireplace is not a likely problem if it's reasonably removed from the equipment and patient.

Some patients put the concentrator in another room due to the noise that they produce. If the rooms don't open into each other there is a chance of oxygen building up in a poorly ventilated room and the risk of fire may be increased.

Tanks of oxygen, when in use, can increase ambient oxygen concentration in poorly ventilated areas and increase the risk of fire. I don't think that even this would be a problem with a fireplace because the fire is obviously consuming a significant amount of oxygen and, also, ventilating the room with its draft.
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Re: Oxygen and Fire Safety
Old 10-14-2006, 10:14 AM   #6
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Re: Oxygen and Fire Safety

Thanks for the advice. I suggested to my sister that they not have fires, and she agreed (although today said "shall we have a fire today?"
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