Commissioner Causey warns against smoking near oxygen tanks


NC Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCT) – North Carolina Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey urges residents to always be careful when around oxygen tanks and to never smoke when they’re nearby.

“Tragedy recently struck a Nash County family when a woman died while smoking a cigarette while using her oxygen tank,” said Commissioner Causey, who is also the State Fire Marshal. “Portable oxygen tanks have enhanced the quality of life for many with various medical conditions. But having oxygen in your home means you need to put extra safety rules into practice.”

So far, 107 people have died in North Carolina fires this year. In 2018, 135 people died in fires.

Commissioner Causey and the National Fire Protection Association recommend the following safety tips when oxygen tanks are nearby:

  • Never smoke when using an oxygen tank. There is no safe way to smoke in the home when oxygen is in use.
  • Don’t burn candles, matches or wood stoves if oxygen tanks are in use in the home. Even sparking toys can ignite an oxygen source.
  • Keep oxygen cylinders at least five feet from a heat source, open flames or electrical devices.
  • Keep body oil, hand lotion, and items containing oil and grease away from a place where oxygen tanks are in use.
  • Never use aerosol sprays containing combustible materials near oxygen sources.

People using oxygen tanks may consider posting “No Smoking” or “No Open Flames” signs in and outside their homes to remind guests not to smoke. Oxygen saturates fabric-covered furniture, clothing, hair, and bedding, making it easier for a fire to start and spread.

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