I-Team: Dangers of smoking on home oxygen

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AGAWAM, Mass. (WWLP) – The Massachusetts Department of Fire Services has tracked home oxygen fires since 1997. In that time, there were 41 deaths and 102 injuries.

Six people in western Massachusetts were injured while using home oxygen since November 2018, according to Jennifer Mieth of the Dept. of Fire Services.

A trailer home in Agawam caught fire on January 18, killing one person inside who was using oxygen and smoking. Fires Services says these two things should never be combined.

When more oxygen is in the air, fires burn hotter and faster. In the Department’s 2018 Annual Report, it states “Most materials will ignite at considerably lower temperatures in oxygen-enriched environments than in air, and once ignited, combustion rates are greater in oxygen-enriched environments.”

Oxygen can also saturate clothing, rugs, upholstery, and facial hair, making it easier for a fire to start and spread, even if the system is turned off.

If you or a loved one uses oxygen, make sure there are working smoke alarms throughout the home. They should be tested monthly. Also, keep oxygen and tubing 10 feet away from heat sources such as candles, matches, lighters, heaters, wood stoves, electric razors, hair dryers, cooking stoves, and smoking materials. Do not use petroleum-based products such as oil-based lip balms or lotions. They catch fire easily.

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