Oxygen Therapy Patients Urged To Use Caution - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

1/11/06-Tyler

Oxygen Therapy Patients Urged To Use Caution

It may be some time before we know what the problem was with the oxygen machine inside a mobile home that erupted into flame near Ore City Monday night. Five were killed, including four children. Three-year-old C.J. Brown, pulled from the fire, is recovering in a Shreveport hospital.

The fire marshal determined an oxygen delivery device used in the home malfunctioned.

Thousands of East Texans use the devices every day to get the oxygen they need. Those who provide the machines say there's always a danger working with oxygen, which will quickly fuel a fire if ignited.

That's something that Ashley Hampton tries to get across.

"Sometimes I am concerned. Some people are interested with what I have to say," Hampton says about her admonitions to patients when installing the devices.

However, many who need oxygen are smokers, and many keep puffing around oxygen which could fuel a fire.

"What I tell people if they're going to smoke and I know they're going to, is take off their oxygen, turn off their oxygen concentrator and walk away from their oxygen at least five feet away," she says.

Don't smoke or cook while using oxygen. The nasal canula can come in contact with a stove.

"Oxygen is still inside [the canula], and it's going to start burning all the way around their face [if fire starts.] They're breathing in oxygen and it could burn into their throat and lungs," Hampton says.

Also, it's recommended patients allow plenty of space -- at least 18 inches -- around the device. Also, don't use oil-based products which can cause plastic canulas and components to degrade. Don't store tanks in your car trunk or other area where it gets very hot. And, don't allow children to play with the machine.

Experts do caution patients to watch out for damage to their tanks.

"[If the mechanism on top of a bottle] gets knocked off, then the tank could go flying through a wall," Hampton says.

Just as important as preventing fire is regular service, every eight to nine weeks. Maintenance is part of Medicare's contract with these companies.

Experts say it's very important to make sure you plug your oxygen device directly into a wall with a three-prong grounded plug. Don't use extension cords or adaptors to make it a two-pronged plug. This could lead to a short, which could easily start a fire.

Reported by Morgan Palmer. morganpalmer@kltv.com

 

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