Can You Transport Oxygen Cylinders Lying Down: Everything You Need To Know

Oxygen is vital to all life on earth, but only humans can supplement ours. If you need to transport oxygen cylinders, can you do so with the tanks lying down? You may not have enough vertical space or may want to fit tanks in more securely. Either way, the type of cylinder matters. A large, liquid oxygen tank is more dangerous to transport than smaller personal, portable tanks. Interestingly, the longer the tank, the less likely you can lay it down to transport. This is not about size so much as contents. However, larger tanks are more likely to have liquid oxygen inside. Moreover, it’s important to avoid storing or transporting oxygen tanks in small, enclosed spaces. Car trunks, for example, heat up very quickly. I will walk you through the safety and regulations for transporting oxygen, so you don’t need to worry about damage. Not only can improperly transported oxygen cylinders break, but they can also cause a lot of damage in the process because of the pressurized gas inside.

Can you transport oxygen cylinders lying down? Portable oxygen cylinders can be transported lying down. However, you should never move the larger liquid oxygen tanks in this manner. Always make sure to protect the valves of your portable oxygen tanks during transit. Accidental collision and rolling around can cause dangerous leaks and damage if you are not careful. 

Can Oxygen Tanks Be Stored Lying Down

Storing oxygen tanks safely can be similar to transporting them. For example, you can store and transport small oxygen cylinders lying down. Although this isn’t the ideal choice, it is better than allowing them to free-stand or lean over.

It is dangerous to lean an oxygen tank against the wall. If you must have unsecured oxygen tanks, lay them down and set them against a wall, so they don’t roll around. Keeping them out of the way will also help cut down on potential dangers.

Damaged oxygen cylinders can depressurize rapidly. Not only is shrapnel a risk, but the tank can also shoot across a room, through a thin wall or window, and do serious harm. While tanks do not explode in the sense of creating fire, they will feed even the smallest sparks or fire off like a rocket.

Never store oxygen in an enclosed space like a closet or box. It is equally important to avoid confined yet open areas such as under a bed. Ideally, it would be best if you stored oxygen cylinders upright in a secured rack designed for the size of oxygen tank you use.

I recommend storing your oxygen cylinders in a Drive Medical Deluxe Six Oxygen Cylinder Rack from Amazon. Made from sturdy alloy carbon steel, this carrier is chrome plated for a nice finish. You’ll appreciate the brackets for in-truck installation. Have a Drive Medical Oxygen Rack shipped to your door quickly by clicking here. 

Can Oxygen Tanks Be Used Horizontally

Do not use an oxygen tank horizontally. Although you can transport small oxygen cylinders on their sides or carry them sideways relatively safely, you should never operate them in this position. These tanks are engineered to function properly when upright.

It may seem like an oxygen tank is a simple container with air inside. That is an extreme oversimplification—compressed gasses, including but not limited to oxygen vent from the top. A side position could affect the proper release of gas, leading to waste or damage.

That said, an oxygen tank can function on its side. Unlike other compressed gasses, such as acetylene, vented oxygen is safe so long as it’s not near a source of sparks or fire. Still, it’s best to follow any instructions given by your healthcare provider.

Notably, most of the available information on sideways oxygen canisters relates either to liquid oxygen or workplaces. Using oxygen at home is different than when you use it in a place of employment. There do not appear to be any universal requirements for small tank orientation when you use the oxygen for breathing at home.

OSHA standards require the upright operation of oxygen tanks. If you use oxygen for a home business and have employees, this may apply to your situation.

Responsive Respiratory’s Metal Rack for Six Oxygen Cylinders is very well made. Fully welded, this all-steel rack makes it easy to access, store or move your home oxygen. Plus, you don’t need to assemble any parts. The unique silver powder coat paint finish isn’t just for looks. It resists chips and scratches for easier transportation. To learn more about this Oxygen Cylinder Rack on Amazon, click here.

How Do You Transport Oxygen Cylinders Safely?

People transport oxygen cylinders both lying down and upright for numerous reasons. Some people use tanks only within the home and move them from one room to the next. For others, a wheeled cart brings life-saving oxygen with them while moving around.

Climbers and athletes may also have reason to carry small oxygen cylinders to supplement and aid recovery. I’ll cover vehicular transportation standards in a moment. Racks are the best for transporting multiple cylinders. Additionally, you can get backpacks, bags, and wheeled carts for portable oxygen tanks, and all these options are considered safe for daily use.

If you are carrying tanks in your arms, it’s time to get a better system. Meanwhile, it is crucial to avoid jostling and banging tanks together. Carry them one at a time and watch your step. Switch to an assistive container like a rack as soon as possible to avoid dangerously damaged tanks.

For a lightweight, minimalist carrier, grab this WT Farley Inc Six Oxygen Tank Cylinder Rack. Designed with home healthcare in mind, this portable rack will also work well for storage. Not only does this cylinder rack have durable construction, but it also takes up very little space. Plus, at four and a quarter-inch diameter rings, it can hold E, D, C, or M9 size cylinders. To read the excellent Amazon reviews, click here. 

Transporting Oxygen Cylinders in Vehicles

Transporting oxygen cylinders in vehicles may seem simple, but too many people assume you can put them in the trunk and go. You should never transport an oxygen cylinder lying down in an enclosed space like your trunk. Especially when the tank is unsecured, there is a danger of serious damage to the tank and your car.

Never assume that you can do something again just because you got lucky in the past. It is vital to transport your oxygen cylinders secured in the backseat of a car or other vehicle. When possible, leave them upright on the floor and secure them with a rope or bungee cord.

Letting a cylinder of oxygen roll around could result in the valve banging into something inside your car. A damaged valve may leak, or the whole tank could decompress rapidly. Use a rack whenever possible to hold your oxygen safely.

Additionally, you should always make sure the car is well ventilated. Leave a window open at least two or three inches. Please do not merely run the air conditioner or heater instead, as this is not the same as having proper ventilation.

What Are The DOT Regulations For Transporting Oxygen Cylinders

Oxygen USP, aka medical oxygen, is both a prescription substance and a hazardous substance. DOT regulation comes from a federal law known as Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations, specifically sections 40, 382, 383, 387, 390-397, and 399. These regulations typically apply to professionals rather than private citizens.

To transport oxygen in a vehicle, you must adhere to the following standards:

  1. Carry an Oxygen Manifest, which declares what is being transported. This paperwork must be within reach of the driver. It may also be known as a hazard manifests, pick-ticket, shipping paper, oxygen manifest, waybill, or daily trip sheet, among other names. You must have this regardless of the number of tanks. Even one is enough to require the right papers.
  2. There is an exception to this paperwork law. Professionals who use oxygen for their job, such as welders, can carry oxygen tanks in their work vehicles. This is known as a “material of trade.”
  3. The driver must be wearing a seatbelt.
  4. Though this may not apply to small loads of oxygen cylinders, drivers of vehicles transporting 1,001 pounds or more of hazardous materials must have hazmat training.
  5. Drivers who fill tanks from a liquid dewar mounted in the truck or from a trans fill system must have additional training. This training is on FDA compliance with the manufacturing of drug products.

Hazmat handlers must have their training within ninety days of beginning work. Additionally, they must renew the training every three years. Drivers carrying over 1001 lbs. of oxygen will have additional requirements. Most importantly, you must have a CDL.

Final Thoughts

Oxygen is part of the air we breathe every day, so it doesn’t seem like something that could be dangerous. Sadly, you can only transport some oxygen cylinders lying down because it’s not safe in the concentrated form. Although we can breathe it safely, oxygen will feed the smallest spark creating flames.

Not only does pure oxygen help fires burn, but it also makes them burn faster. A fire near an oxygen tank can result in explosive problems. Yet oxygen itself is not flammable. You need a spark, such as a metal tank scraping against a surface and sparking.

Always practice proper safety when moving oxygen cylinders. The only thing worse than being out of oxygen when you need it is having no oxygen because it fed a fire nearby.

Aron Blake

I am the lead copywriter on Homezesty and the Webmaster. I have a lot of experience in home renovations and the creation of style. I enjoy writing and sharing my tips on how to create the best living environment. My Linkedin Profile, My Twitter Account

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