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How to Turn on an Oxygen Cylinder

By Linda Donahue ; Updated July 27, 2017

For many older citizens and for people with certain lung conditions, the use of an oxygen tank can become a necessity of living. For these people, or for those people tending to them, learning to operate the tank is a must. Fortunately, turning on an oxygen tank is a simple matter. Always follow your doctor's or caregiver's instructions regarding the flow setting for the tank. You do not want to receive either too much or too little oxygen.

Fill the humidifier with fresh, distilled water to the fill line. If there is any old water, throw it out.

Hook up one end of the oxygen tube with the humidifier and the other end with the nasal cannula or mask.

Turn on the tank by turning the valve at the top counterclockwise. (Use the right-hand rule: Curl your right hand around the valve with your thumb pointing up because you want the air to come out. The curl of your fingers shows the correct direction to turn the valve. To turn off the valve, turn your hand upside down, so the thumb points into the tank and again turn the valve the direction your fingers are curling.)

Set the flow meter to the setting prescribed by your doctor or caregiver. As you turn the dial, a metal ball will rise to the correct level on the scale.

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