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Guidelines for the Storage of Medical Gas 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, require careful storage to ensure safety.

Ensure that compressed medical oxygen cylinders are:

  • stored under cover, preferably inside, kept dry and clean, and not subjected to extremes of heat or cold and 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.

N.B. Size F cylinders and larger should be stored vertically. Size E cylinders and smaller should be stored horizontally.

Post clear warning notices prohibiting smoking and naked flames in the cylinder storage area.

Notify the Emergency Services of the location of the cylinder store, as cylinders may explode if subjected to extremely high temperatures (e.g. if involved in a fire).

Never store medical oxygen in a vehicle.