Discharge Instructions: Using Oxygen at Home


Discharge Instructions: Using Oxygen at Home

Your doctor has prescribed oxygen to help make breathing easier for you. You were shown in the hospital how to use your oxygen unit. Here are some guidelines on safely using oxygen at home. Do all steps each time you use your oxygen unit.

Woman wearing a nasal cannula.

Oxygen tank, gauge, humidifier bottle and cannula tubing.


General tips

  • Don’t smoke or let others around you smoke.

  • Wash your hands before and after using your oxygen.

  • Do not use oxygen around an open flame.

Step 1: Check your supply

  • Pressurize your oxygen tank.

  • Check the oxygen gauge on the tank to be sure you have enough. When the gauge reads one-third (1/3) full, call to order more oxygen.

  • If you have a humidifier bottle, check the water level. When the level is at or below one-half (1/2) full, refill it with sterile or distilled water.

Step 2: Attach the tubing

  • Attach the cannula tubing to your oxygen source as you have been shown.

  • Be sure the tubing is not bent or blocked.

Step 3: Set your prescribed flow rate

  • Set the oxygen to flow at the rate your doctor has prescribed.

  • Never change this rate unless your doctor tells you to.

Step 4: Insert the cannula

  • Insert the nasal cannula (nose tube) into your nose and breathe through your nose normally.

  • If you are not sure whether the oxygen is flowing, place the cannula in a glass of water. If the water bubbles, the oxygen is flowing.

  • Keep oxygen tanks at least 5 feet from gas stoves, candles, or any heat source.

  • Keep the door to the room open so that air circulates and it is not stuffy.

  • Protect your oxygen tank from being knocked over.

  • Turn off  a tank right away if it is knocked over and makes a hissing noise. If the regulator breaks or you cannot safely turn the tank off, remove the tubing and leave the room. Then call the supply company or the fire department for help right away.

  • Don’t smoke or be around anyone else that smokes.

  • Be careful not to trip over the tubing of your oxygen tank.


When to Call Your Doctor

Call your doctor right away if you have any of the following:

  • Pale skin or a blue tint to your lips or fingernails

  • Increased shortness of breath, wheezing, or other changes from your usual breathing, even with oxygen in place

  • Confusion, restlessness or more anxiety than usual

  • Chest pain