Appendix 2 Storage of medical oxygen cylinders
Medical oxygen is a non-flammable gas but is a very strong oxidant. It may react violently with combustible materials and can cause certain substances to burn vigorously, including some materials that would not normally burn in air. Oxygen is highly dangerous in the presence of oils, greases, tarry substances and many plastics due to the risk of spontaneous combustion in the presence of oxygen when in relatively high concentrations. Compressed medical oxygen cylinders, therefore, should be stored carefully and:
- stored under cover, preferably inside, kept dry and clean, and not subjected to extremes of heat or cold;
- stored away from stocks of combustible material;
- stored separately from industrial and other non-medical cylinders;
- stored to maintain separation between full and empty cylinders;
- used in strict rotation so that cylinders with the earliest filling date are used first;
- stored separately from other medical cylinders within the store;
- stored according to manufacturers’ instructions (e.g. F size cylinders and larger stored vertically, E size cylinders and smaller stored horizontally).
Warning notices prohibiting smoking and naked lights should be posted clearly in the cylinder storage area. Emergency Services should be advised of the location of the cylinder store, as cylinders may explode if subjected to extremely high temperatures (e.g. if involved in a fire).
Medical oxygen should never be stored in a vehicle.
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