Woman burned after oxygen line ignites
December 22, 2004
A 77-year-old Gardnerville woman received severe burns to her face after her oxygen mask was ignited by a lit cigarette.
The woman was found after firefighters responded to a home on Kyndal Court at about 9 p.m.
According to fire investigator Terry Taylor, the woman’s face was blackened with the skin burned.
The woman had been on oxygen for a recent bout with pneumonia. She was helicoptered to Washoe Medical Center before she was taken to the University of California, Davis, Regional Burn Center. She is listed in serious, but stable condition.
Taylor said there have been at least three oxygen-related fatalities in recent years.
He said the danger is that people on oxygen will try to smoke a cigarette and set their oxygen tube on fire.
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“Any time you bring a heat source to it like a match or cigarette, the cannula will catch on fire and oxygen accelerates the fire,” he said.
Barton Hospital and the Tahoe-Douglas Bomb Squad replicated the effects for the oncology program to show people what can happen if they smoke while on oxygen.
“You see it on the screen,” he said. “Here’s a cigarette and pow.”
Oxygen-reliant smokers pose a danger not only to themselves, but to others as well, Taylor said.
“This is dangerous to you and anybody around you,” he said of smoking with oxygen.