Fire department warns of dangers of smoking while on home oxygen therapy

BRATTLEBORO — On Dec. 3, the Brattleboro Fire Department and Rescue Inc. responded to a West Brattleboro address for a subject that was burned. Upon arrival, it was learned that the 55-year-old patient was burned while vaping while he was on home oxygen.

According to a Fire Department news release, a flash fire occurred around the face of the subject and he received burns to his mouth and nose. He was transported to Brattleboro Memorial Hospital by Rescue Inc. for further evaluation and treatment.

This was the second such incident in as many months. On Oct. 25, a subject received moderate burns to his face when he lit a cigarette while on home oxygen.

Brattleboro Fire Chief Michael Bucossi said he wants to stress that any type of smoking or vaping while on home oxygen therapy is a very unsafe practice.

“While normally a nonflammable gas, the enrichment of normal room air with oxygen increases the energy, heat release, and severity of any fire,” Bucossi said. “What can generally be a fairly nonflammable substance can, in the presence of a high oxygen atmosphere, burn intensely.”

Bucossi said oxygen can build up, not only in the home, but on the hair, clothes, and body of a patient on home oxygen therapy. That built-up gas can ignite when a heat source, like a cigarette, comes close to the face, causing severe burns.

Residents with questions about this or any other safety issues are encouraged to call the Brattleboro Fire Department at 802-254-4831.

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