Housekeeping for Your Home Oxygen

Vol. 16 •Issue 9 • Page 34
Patient Primer

Housekeeping for Your Home Oxygen

PDF Format

You tackled that mountain of dishes and the last load of wash — finally you’ve finished the housekeeping, but are you keeping up with your home oxygen system?

Whether you’re using liquid oxygen, compressed oxygen, or an oxygen concentrator, you need to maintain your equipment and accessories regularly to avoid contamination and ensure optimal health benefits. This guide includes tips to keep your system sparkling and sanitary.

No matter which system you’re using, it’s important to wash and disinfect your oxygen equipment in a clean environment. Avoid cleaning your system and accessories under an open window, in dusty, dirty, or smoking areas, or after vacuuming.

Keeping up with your concentrator

If you’re using a humidifier bottle, empty and refill it with fresh water at least once a day. Wash it with soap and warm water, rinse, and refill with sterile or distilled water to the fill line. Don’t use tap water because it can damage your equipment. Screw the humidifier bottle back onto the lid tightly to prevent leaks.

Once a week, remove your concentrator’s filter and wash it in warm water and non-lotion detergent. Rinse well, gently squeeze water out, pat dry with a clean towel, and reattach.

Check your concentrator’s alert buzzer weekly. Turn off the unit, unplug it, and push the power switch to “on.” If the alarm buzzer doesn’t sound to tell you there’s no power supply, use a different oxygen source and call the oxygen company. Never use an extension cord or an outlet controlled by a switch with your concentrator.

Refilling your liquid oxygen

Because liquid oxygen evaporates within 24 hours, if you’re not using your portable unit, it’s best to fill it just before use to avoid waste. When you’re ready to refill your portable liquid oxygen unit from the stationary reservoir, wipe the filling connectors on each device with a clean, lint-free cloth.

Turn off the portable unit’s flow control knob, and attach the unit to the reservoir’s filling connectors. Once you open the fill valve, you will hear a hissing noise while the unit is filling. Always stay with the unit while filling it, which should take about two minutes.

When the unit’s full, slowly close the fill valve, and remove the unit from the reservoir. If the liquid oxygen continues to flow out of the stationary unit, don’t attempt to reconnect the portable unit. Back away from the unit, and call your oxygen supply company.

Caring for your compressed oxygen cylinders

Always store cylinders in a well-ventilated space, and secure them in an upright position in a base or cart. Open and close the cylinder valve slowly, and aim it away from you and other people. Turn the supply valve off when you’re not using the tank.

The oxygen is stored under extreme pressure, and if damaged, the cylinder can act like a missile and shoot off at a high rate of speed that could cause serious injury.

Call your oxygen supply company if you drop or damage your oxygen container — don’t use it. If you hear a loud hissing noise, get away from the cylinder immediately.

Stay prepared

Check your system’s contents indicator or pressure gauge often to make sure you have enough oxygen. Order a new supply of oxygen two to three days before you need it.

If there’s a holiday or bad weather coming up, order extra in advance, and always keep a backup supply in case of an emergency.

Adapted from the American Lung Association, HealthTouch® Online, and Apria Healthcare.

Colleen Mullarkey is assistant editor of ADVANCE. She can be reached at [email protected].