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Preparing for the Worst: Should You Have an Oxygen Setup at Home?

Preparing for the Worst: Should You Have an Oxygen Setup at Home?

If there’s one COVID-19 symptom most people are worried about, it’s difficulty of breathing. Labored breathing, which may result in low blood oxygen levels (less than 95 SPO2) necessitates a trip to the emergency room and might even lead to intensive care unit confinement and ventilator use. Out of fear, many people want to have an oxygen setup at home. But is it a wise decision? Find out here.

An Oxygen Setup at Home Is Possible, But Complicated

Many patients who need support in breathing and maintaining their blood oxygen levels receive oxygen therapy at home. So, if you’re wondering if having an oxygen tank at home is possible, then yes, it is.

However, please remember that these patients are often guided by their physicians. They most likely received professional assistance in the setup of the tank and all its accessories. Moreover, the patients themselves, or their caregivers, received the necessary training for oxygen therapy.

In other words, having an oxygen setup at home is a complex process.

If you want to “stock up” on oxygen tanks because you want to be ready in case COVID-19 hits you or your loved ones, keep in mind that you don’t as yet have the professional assistance or the necessary training for it.

An Oxygen Setup at Home Has Risks

If you’re still determined to buy a tank or two, you need to know the risks involved.

Oxygen makes things burn faster in the same way that air makes fire bigger. To promote safety at home, you must:

  • Properly secure the tank. If the tank falls down and sustains damage, leaks may occur. Reports say a rupture can turn a tank into a “high-speed missile.”
  • Never store the tank in a place where there is insufficient ventilation (such as a closet).
  • Enforce a “No Smoking” rule in the room where the tank is stored.
  • Make sure that the tank is at least 2 meters away from stoves, candles, plugged appliances, or any toys or device with electric motors.
  • Be careful while cooking. Splattering grease may catch fire.
  • Keep oxygen tanks away from aerosol sprays or liquids that can start a fire, such as oil and alcohol.
  • Remember that ordinary topical products such as vapor rubs and petroleum jelly may react violently to oxygen and cause burns.
  • Have a fire extinguisher at home.
  • Consider having a smoke detector.

IMPORTANT: Never Use Oxygen Without a Doctor’s Prescription

You may have a tank at home, but you must NEVER administer oxygen without a doctor’s prescription.

Like medicine, oxygen comes with doses, too: At the very least, you must know how many liters per minute are needed. Depending on the patient’s condition, that could be anywhere from 2 to 40 L/min.

If you receive too little oxygen, then you’re essentially wasting resources because your condition won’t improve. Similarly, receiving too much oxygen could lead to toxicity.

Having an oxygen setup at home might also give you a false sense of security. You might think that everything’s okay, but in truth, you or your loved ones may already need care that only properly-equipped hospitals and professionals can provide.

What About Oxygen Concentrators?

These days, more people are also looking into oxygen concentrators, a device that removes nitrogen from the air we breathe in, providing higher amounts of oxygen necessary for oxygen therapy.

Like oxygen cylinders, you shouldn’t use these devices without a doctor’s guidance either.

Key Takeaways

At first glance, having an oxygen setup at home seems like a smart thing to do. However, doing so comes with risks. Before buying an oxygen tanks, there are many things you need to consider.

You must never administer oxygen unless you have a doctor’s prescription. And since you wouldn’t know the dosage until a physician gives it to you, you wouldn’t know if you’re “stocking up” on an adequate supply.

At the end of the day, the best way to protect yourself and your family is to follow health protocols and get vaccinated.

Learn more about Respiratory Health here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

Oxygen safety, https://medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000049.htm, Accessed September 30. 2021

Can you spot the home oxygen safety hazards?, https://www.osfhealthcare.org/blog/can-you-spot-the-home-oxygen-safety-hazards/, Accessed September 30. 2021

Pulse Oximeters and Oxygen Concentrators: What to Know About At-Home Oxygen Therapy, https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/pulse-oximeters-and-oxygen-concentrators-what-know-about-home-oxygen-therapy, Accessed September 30. 2021

Provision of oxygen at home, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1113986/, Accessed September 30. 2021

Oxygen Levels, Pulse Oximeters, and COVID-19, https://www.health.state.mn.us/diseases/coronavirus/pulseoximeter.html, Accessed September 30. 2021

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Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. Updated 3 weeks ago
Fact Checked by Cesar Beltran