Safety Tip

If a fire should start in an oxygen-enriched area, the matieral burning will burn more quickly.
Download our free medical oxygen safety tip sheet.

Heat source in 2003-2006 medical oxygen -related burns seen at hospital emergency rooms

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The air is normally 21% oxygen. Oxygen is not flammable, but fire needs it to burn. When more oxygen is present, any fire that starts will burn hotter and faster than usual. More oxygen in the air means that things such as hair, plastic, skin oils, clothing, and furniture can catch fire at lower temperatures.

Facts and figures
uring the four-year period of 2003-2006:

  • Hospital emergency rooms saw an estimated average of 1,190 thermal burns per year caused by ignitions associated with home medical oxygen.
  • Eighty-nine percent of the victims suffered facial burns.
  • In most cases, the fire department was not involved.

Source: NFPA's "Fires and Burns Involving Home Medical Oxygen" report by Marty Ahrens, August 2008.

Also see: Fact sheet on fires and burns involving home medical oxygen. (PDF, 44 KB)


Video: NFPA's Lisa Braxton talks about how the use of portable medical oxygen in the home has grown during the past decade. Oxygen saturates fabric covered furniture, clothing, hair, and bedding, making it easier for a fire to start and spread. Here are some tips for the safe use of medical oxygen.

NFPA does not test, label or approve any products.
Updated: 7/13