Three people are suffering from burns after they were smoking while using home oxygen in two separate incidents.
The first incident happened at the Ferndale Farms Community in Ferndale last Friday night. Officials say a 61-year-old man suffered burns to his face after trying to smoke near his home oxygen.
An 18-year-old was also taken to the hospital after he said he had burns and respiratory distress after trying to help the older man. The 61-year-old is in serious condition, but doesn't have life threatening injuries.
The second incident happened on Sunday when a 56-year-old woman tried to light a cigarette while a nasal cannula from a home oxygen system was in place and flowing.
This happened around 9:00 in the morning at the Chesapeake Glen Apartment Complex.
The woman has burns to her face, around her nose, and her mouth. She is in serious condition with possibly life threatening injuries.
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), emergency rooms see an estimated average of 1,190 thermal burns per year caused by fires associated with home medical oxygen. In 73 pecent of those cases, smoking materials were the heat source that started the fire.
The NFPA makes the following safety recommendations for homes where oxygen is in use:
- Never smoke in a home where oxygen is used.
- Post "no smoking" signs in and outside of the home to remind residents and guests not to smoke.
- If oxygen is used in the home, the amount of oxygen in the air, furniture, clothing, hair, and bedding goes up, making it easier for a fire to start and spread. This means that there is a higher risk of both fires and burns.
- Never use an open flame, such as candles, matches, wood stoves, and sparking toys, when oxygen is in use.
- People who may have difficulty escaping a fire should have a phone near their bed or chair.
- Make sure that the home has smoke alarms. Test them at least monthly.
- Have a home fire escape plan with two ways out of every room and an outside meeting place. Practice the plan at least twice a year.