Do's and Don'ts

Do's and Don'ts

Oxygen Safety

Always remember these safety tips when using a portable oxygen concentrator

When men and women start using a portable oxygen concentrator (POC), they often have questions about how to properly care for the machine and stay safe while using supplemental oxygen.  

Luckily, with just a few simple tips, you can use supplemental oxygen safely and breathe easier.  

Quick oxygen safety tips to make using a portable oxygen concentrator simple and easy.

Follow these easy Dos and Don’ts when using a Portable Oxygen Concentrator:

1. Know when to change your tubing. 

POCs use a plastic nasal cannula and tubing to deliver flowing oxygen from the concentrator to your nasal passage and lungs. To make sure you’re always receiving clean oxygen, wash your cannula once a week.  

Since plastic deteriorates over time and causes microscopic cracks in the tubing, set a schedule for replacing your tubing and cannula. Cracked tubes can accumulate pollen, mold and other irritants, so it’s important to routinely change your tubes. If you use your POC only a few hours a day, we recommend changing your tubing and cannula every 3 to 6 months. If you use your POC for longer than a few hours each day, change your cannula monthly and the tubes every 2 to 4 months.

2. Keep your POC filter clean. 

You should clean the filter on your POC once every 6 to 12 months. Cleaning the filter regularly helps deliver clean oxygen and prevents damage to the machine.  

The filter is commonly located on the side or back of the concentrator. After removing the filter for cleaning, rinse it with warm water to wash away particles and debris. After rinsing, gently massage the soap into the filter. Then, rinse a second time to remove the soap and any excess dirt.  

Let the filter air dry, and then inspect it for tearing or damage before replacing it in your POC. If you notice any signs of damage, be sure to order a replacement filter immediately.  

Remember: never use the POC without a filter in place! Insert a spare filter, if you need to use your POC while cleaning the original.

3. Run your POC at least 4 hours per month. 

If you only use your POC occasionally, make sure you get it out and turn it a few times a month. Letting it sit without use can damage the concentrator, so it’s important to use the machine from time to time. To prolong the lifespan of your POC, we recommend running the concentrator for at least 4 hours each month.  

4. Keep yourself hydrated 

Everyone’s doctor tells them they should drink water, but proper hydration is especially important for those with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). When you have COPD, mucus gathers in your lungs making it difficult to breathe. Staying hydrated thins out the mucus allowing you to breathe more easily.  

Drinking lots of water also helps you avoid a dry mouth and nose when using portable oxygen. When you first start using a POC or if you have a high oxygen flow rate, the constant flow of air can dry out your nasal passages and cause nose bleeds. Keeping yourself hydrated helps counteract the dryness in your nose and throat.  

1. Don’t let your POC overheat or leave it in a small space. 

Your POC contains small batteries and delicate electronic equipment. To avoid damaging your concentrator, always use and store it in areas with mild temperatures. Avoid letting it get too cold, and always prevent it from getting too hot.  

Just like a television or a computer gets warm when it’s on, your POC generates heat when it’s in use. To keep your POC from overheating, use it in a well-ventilated area, and never store it in a small space.  

If you spend time outdoors, keep the POC out of direct sunlight to prevent the temperature of the machine from rising. Finally, never leave your POC in a hot car! The excess heat can damage the internal machinery.

2. Don’t let your POC get wet. 

It may seem obvious, but machines like your POC don’t mix well with water. Keep the machinery and electronics safe by keeping your POC away from water sources. If you need to use oxygen while bathing, invest in a long cannula so you can keep the POC away from the tub or shower.  

Be sure to turn on the bathroom fan to suck moisture and steam out of the room as you bathe. If the air is too humid it can damage your concentrator.

3. Never smoke near your POC. 

When first using a POC, men and women often worry about whether the unit is flammable or dangerous. Oxygen is a non-flammable gas, making it safe for us to breathe. However, an abundance of oxygen makes it easy for flammable items to burn quickly. 

Therefore, the number one rule for oxygen safety is to never smoke around your POC!  

Oxygen is an oxidizer, meaning it feeds the fire. Open flames, heat sources and even cigarettes are extremely dangerous when using a POC. Your POC feeds pure oxygen through your cannula to your lungs and the air around you. If a single spark meets a fuel source like carpet, hair or clothing, the excess oxygen increases the likelihood that it could burn and cause a fire.  

The best way to keep yourself safe is to quit smoking completely. However, many POC owners find quitting difficult or they live with someone who smokes. In that case, limit all smoking to outdoors only.

We're invested in your oxygen safety

Our team is invested in keeping your oxygen safety while using your POC. These simple Dos and Don’ts will help you live easily with portable oxygen.  

Most importantly, don’t hesitate to reach out to us with any questions! Let our respiratory specialists help you get back to living the life you deserve.