Medical oxygen fire safety tips for older adults

According the United States Fire Administration, older adults have a 2.6 times greater risk of dying in a fire than the U.S. population as a whole. In the U.S. and Canada, adults age 65 and older comprise about 12% of the population, making it essential to take the necessary steps to stay safe. Last year there were 76 fire fatalities in Washington, and 22% were adults age 65 or older.

The State Fire Marshal’s Office notes that many older adults are on medical required oxygen in their homes. If a fire is present, medical oxygen can cause material to ignite easier and make fires burn at a faster and hotter rate than normal.

Practice these safety rules where medical oxygen is in use:

– Never smoke where medical oxygen is being used.

– Post “No Smoking” and “No Open Flames” signs inside and outside of the home reminding residents and guests not to smoke.

– Keep oxygen cylinders at least 5 feet from a heat source, open flames or electrical devices.

– Never use aerosol sprays containing combustible materials near the oxygen.

– Never use a candle, matches, sparking toy, a fireplace or stove, or any other device fueled by gas, kerosene, wood, or coal around medical oxygen or an oxygen tank in use.

– Body oil, hand lotion and items containing oil and grease can easily ignite. Keep oil and grease away from where oxygen is being used.

– Make sure that homes have smoke alarms and test them monthly.

– If a fire starts in an oxygen-enriched space, the fire is likely to spread quickly, igniting clothing, curtains, furniture, bedding, hair and anything in the area.

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