Oxygen Uses, Risks, and Precautionary Measures
Oxygen is considered as a safe gas vital for survival of human beings. However, it is also a risk as it can be dangerous. The amount of oxygen contained in the air amount to at least twenty one percent. The total amount is utilized for breathing, welding, food preservation, in chemical plants, and as a medical treatment across hyperbaric chambers among other uses. The risks posed based on these uses are mainly aligned towards fire and explosions. Oxygen is a very reactive gas that can be stored in high pressure. However, it can react violently with grease and oil, causing fire instantaneously. Materials likely to catch fire include rubber, textiles, and metals when exposed to vigorous burning using highly compressed oxygen. Due to these risks, people are advised to take precautions aimed at ensuring they are safe at home and work places. Oxygen utilized to help people with breathing difficulties should therefore be regulated to avoid burning the patients, healthcare institutions, and visitors within the buildings (HSE, 2008).
The following oxygen safety measures can be applied by residents to minimize the risks. Residents should neither pressurize nor purge systems using oxygen to avoid explosions. Consequently, they should never use oxygen to replace either air or inert gases. Oxygen cylinders should be handled carefully, such as chaining or clamping them before using a purpose built trolley to transport them. More importantly, they should be stored in properly ventilated areas. Oxygen equipments should also be cleaned thoroughly to avoid sand, oil, grease, dust, and other fire hazards from attributing to the risks. People handling oxygen ought to clean their hands and wear gloves before regulating, attaching, or making connections to acquire the gas. Lastly, residents should ensure ventilation is sufficiently plenty (HSE, 2008).
Consequently, they ought to ensure fire extinguishers are in good working conditions. However, checking escape routes to ensure they are accessible and reliable can also minimize the risks. These safety measures address resident’s rights to live in safe, clean, and healthy environments. They should neither feel threatened nor at risk of burning, collapsing, or dying due to the massive risks posed by oxygen. Consequently, they can learn to exercise their freedom to move, associate, and relate with other residents without increasing oxygen risks. This is because they are well informed on the safety measures to adopt (HSE, 2008).
The Federal Regulation at 42 CFR 483.25 (h) (2) (Tag F324) asserts that residents ought to receive sufficient assistance and supervision in preventing accidents. Consequently, State Licensure Rules at 10A NCAC 13D 2208 (e) (2) assert that residential facilities ought to ensure every patient receives adequate supervision and help in preventing accidents. The Fire Prevention Code Sections 310.1 to 310.8 provides specific standards and requirements with regards to smoking and prevention from fire hazards. For example, smoking by patients should be prohibited unless they are under direct supervision. Ash trays should be provided across areas patients are allowed to smoke. More importantly, metal vases with self-closing cover devices should be utilized in emptying ash trays. These measures are also aligned towards State Sanitation Rules at 15A NCAC 18A 1311 across nursing hospitals, homes, and adult care centers. They prevent cigarette, pipe, cigar, tobacco, and other combustible products from being smoked indoors and restricted areas (Jeff, 2007).
Primary oxygen delivery systems are several. The oxygen cylinder system uses different size and pressure capacities. The safety precaution asserts that they should be labeled as U.S.P (United States Pharmacopeia) coupled with a yellow diamond confirming the cylinder contains oxygen. This affirms oxygen is a medical grade gas under high pressure. Thus, it should not be mishandled to prevent serious injuries, deaths, and damages. The delivery device is also an emergency oxygen delivery system. It allows patients to breathe through the equipment as it contains tubes supplying oxygen from the regulator to the delivery device. The most common delivery devices utilized include resuscitation masks, nasal cannulas, and non-rebreather masks as well as Bag Valve Mask (BVMs) resuscitators (ANRC, 2011).
The pressure regulator with flow meter is also an emergency oxygen delivery system. It contains a pressure regulator control from the cylinder. The gauge indicates the pounds per square inch (PSI) in order to regulate the pressure in releasing oxygen. Thus, the flow meter controls the rapid speed of oxygen flowing from the gas cylinder to the patient. The main precautionary measure involves setting flow rate from 1 to 25 Liters Per Minute (LPM) (ANRC, 2011).
Other precautionary measures include checking for cylinder leaks, defective and inoperative valves as well as abnormal bulging. Physical presence of rust, dust, corrosion, and sand on the cylinder or neck should also be undertaken. This is because foreign substances can hamper delivery of oxygen coupled with high potentials of causing fires and explosions. Residents should also avoid standing on oxygen cylinders. If a cylinder falls, the valves and regulators are likely to be damaged. More so, they can cause injuries due to the intense pressure in the tank. Thus, the oxygen cylinders should neither be rolled nor dragged. More so, they should be not be carried by the regulator or valve. Lastly, use of pulse oximetry is crucial to check for oxygen saturation in the blood to achieve patient care (ANRC, 2011).
American National Red Cross (ANRC). (2011). Administering Emergency Oxygen, The American National Red Cross Report.
Health and Safety Executive (HSE). (2008). Take Care with Oxygen Fire and Explosion Hazards in the Use of Oxygen, Health and Safety Executive Report.
Jeff, H. (2007). Resident Safety Regarding Smoking: Nursing Home and Adult Care Home Providers, Department of Health and Human Services.