Children & Adolescents Clinic

 Home Parent's Guide

Clinical Reference Systems: Pediatric Advisor 10.0

Oxygen Therapy: Safety Precautions

Oxygen is a medication ordered for your child by your doctor. The liter flow (amount) of oxygen that your child needs is determined by studies done at the hospital or your doctor's office. Do not take your child off oxygen unless your doctor tells you to.

Oxygen itself is nonflammable but will increase the rate a material burns. For example, a spark that lands on clothing will normally only smolder and cause a small burn hole, but with oxygen in use the clothing will ignite.

Special Precautions

  1. Toys

    Do not let your child play with toys that have friction motors or emit sparks.

  2. Heat sources

    If you have a wood stove or fireplace in your home, be sure the fire box is enclosed or a spark screen is in use. The oxygen source and your child should be kept 4 to 6 feet away from any heat source.

  3. Smoking

    Do not smoke in the house and absolutely do not smoke in the car when your child is present. Sparks from cigarettes are impossible to control and could easily start a fire. In addition, your child should never be exposed to secondhand smoke.

  4. Oils, grease, and petroleum-based products

    Do not use any oil, grease, or petroleum-based products on any of your oxygen equipment or near the child. These materials are highly flammable. With supplemental oxygen present, they will burn readily.

    Do not put any petroleum-based lotions or creams (like Vaseline) on your child's face or upper chest. Check the listing of contents of such products before purchase. If your child's skin needs to be moisturized, use cocoa butter or aloe vera products.

  5. Cooking

    It is best if your child is not in the kitchen when you are frying any foods. The combination of oxygen, heat, and splattering of oil or grease can be a fire hazard. If the child's presence is unavoidable, keep the child at least 4 to 6 feet from the stove.

Written by the Asthma Task Force at The Children's Hospital, Denver.
Copyright 1999 Clinical Reference Systems