Oxygen cylinders: functions, types, selection criteria

The importance of oxygen cylinders in patient management: what to do if a person is unable to independently load clean air from the environment into the lungs?

In this case, outside help will be needed, and such effective help will be provided by oxygen cylinders, which have already saved a huge number of lives.

But it should come very quickly, because in just 4,5 minutes tissue hypoxia occurs, the human brain irreversibly changes and stops working.

Therefore, oxygen cylinders are the most important category of medical equipment

In many diseases, as well as during some medical procedures and therapies, it is necessary to provide the patient with a source of oxygen that ensures its constant flow.

This is the main equipment of every ambulance, hospital and medical institutions.

However, such cylinders are used not only in medicine, they are also an important equipment for climbers and divers who would not be able to engage in their passionate sports without additional oxygen.

Types of oxygen cylinders

Oxygen cylinders are made of durable and practical materials well suited for this particular application.

In addition, manufacturers make sure that the devices are easy to use, and their operation is not a problem.

There are two main types of oxygen cylinders on the market

The first one is made of aluminum, the second one is made of steel.

Oxygen cylinders also come in different sizes – from one liter to several tens of liters.

Before buying, you should take a closer look at their parameters and think about which equipment is best suited to you in this or that case.

  • Aluminum cylinders

It can be used not only for rescue purposes.

They can be very useful for athletes engaged in professional sports, for example, diving.

The aluminum cylinder is also ideal for climbing expeditions, because it is very easy to use even under adverse conditions high in the mountains.

  • Steel cylinders

This is an indispensable equipment for hospitals and ambulances.

When helping a patient in a medical facility or with difficulty breathing at the scene of an accident, oxygen should be quickly supplied.

A durable, well-constructed and easy-to-use steel oxygen tank becomes the first aid in such a situation.

Oxygen must be injected in the right amount, which is possible thanks to a special reducer that is attached to the equipment.

How does an oxygen tank work?

The design of the gas cylinder allows the gas to be deposited in it in a liquefied (at a pressure of 150, 200 or 300 bar) and volatile, but highly concentrated form.

Medical oxygen is contained in the so-called first group of gas cylinders.

This means that it remains in a gaseous state, but is compressed because the pressure inside the cylinder is much higher than atmospheric.

As a rule, cylinders containing various gases have a given color – in the case of medical oxygen, the cylinder is completely white or blue (unlike technical oxygen, which is contained in a blue cylinder with a white bowl).

Cylinders can be filled many times, but it is worth paying special attention to the fact that only medical oxygen should be used for breathing.

It is absolutely impossible to fill them with technical oxygen (non-medical gases can be contaminated and represent a source of infection)!

Such equipment should be kept away from fire, batteries and heating devices.

From the moment the cylinder is filled, oxygen is suitable for use for one year, then it must be released, and the container is filled again.

Accessories for oxygen cylinders

To supply oxygen to the patient’s respiratory tract, a regulator is required – a special pressure reducer that provides a controlled safe expansion of the gas and regulates its dose.

The humidifier for the oxygen cylinder avoids the discomfort associated with the dryness of the nasal mucosa.

If oxygen therapy continues after the hospital and at home, for a longer period, it is also worth having a bag or trolley for convenient transportation of the balloon.

You can also purchase a special case that will protect it from damage.

In the case of mass medical events, when several people were injured, the ideal solution is an oxygen distributor.

This device makes it possible to supply oxygen to 4 people at the same time, which allows you to provide immediate assistance and increase the effectiveness of the actions taken.

Which oxygen tank should I choose?

Steel cylinders are usually smaller and lighter, so they are often used, for example, in emergency vehicles, where speed and efficiency are most important.

Aluminum is a little heavier, larger and more massive, so they are used mainly in stationary conditions, hospitals and doctors’ offices.

Oxygen cylinders are also available in various capacities.

Depending on your needs, you can choose a small portable cylinder with a capacity of 1 liter or 2 liters.

Medium and large stationary units – for 5 liters and 10 liters – are ideal for those places where they do not need to be moved (for example, in a hospital).

Usually a 10-liter cylinder filled at a pressure of  200 bar gives 2000 liters of medical oxygen and it lasts for 130 minutes of use at an average flow rate of 15 liters/ min.

Each oxygen cylinder must have special tolerances and certificates confirming its quality and safety of use.

That is why it is worth buying such equipment only in trusted stores.

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