Home Oxygen Therapy

Disclaimer: This fact sheet is for education purposes only. Please consult with your doctor or other health professional to make sure this information is right for your child.

PDF Versions Available

This fact sheet is available to print in the following languages:

Why does my child need oxygen?

Every time we breathe in, oxygen goes to our lungs where it is carried in the blood to the rest of our body, so we can function properly. Some children may need extra oxygen because they are not able to get enough into their bodies through normal breathing.

Your child’s doctor will arrange some tests and decide how much oxygen they need. They may need oxygen all the time, or only in certain situations. .
Do not stop using or change the flow rate of oxygen, without speaking with your child’s doctor first.

How do you give oxygen?

Depending on your child’s oxygen needs, the staff at the hospital will decide what equipment is needed. If your child is already using CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) or Bi-level (BiPAPat home the oxygen may be given through the tubing of the machine using a separate connection. If not, they may need nasal prongs or a mask that covers their nose and/or mouth. The oxygen will come from a concentrator or cylinder depending on how much is needed.

How long will my child need oxygen for?

Your child will have regular follow-up with their doctor and further tests will be done to see when it may be safe to stop the oxygen. Do not stop the oxygen before discussing it with your child’s doctor.

Safety points

  • DO NOT store equipment in direct heat or sunlight.
  • DO NOT cover equipment.
  • DO NOT allow your child near cooking appliances when using oxygen.
  • DO NOT store the oxygen concentrator close to loose materials like curtains or in a confined space.
  • DO NOT leave oxygen turned on when not in use.
  • DO NOT change the oxygen flow rate, unless directed by your doctor.
  • DO NOT attempt to service or fix the oxygen equipment.
  • DO NOT forget to check that the fire alarm in your home works.

Regular equipment checks

Before you go home, you will be shown how to check your child’s oxygen equipment.

  • Check to see if the cylinder is empty (RED) or full (GREEN), prior to use.
  • If empty or almost empty label the cylinder and store it away from the full ones.
  • Check the flow meter is upright and the centre of the ball is in line with the correct oxygen level.
  • Check the oxygen is flowing through the tubing and that there are no kinks or damage to the tubing.
  • Replace the tubing and nasal prongs if they are stiff, discoloured or blocked with mucous.
  • If you have an oxygen concentrator the air filter at the back of the machine needs regular cleaning – you will be shown how to do this.
  • You will also need back-up cylinders if there is a power failure.

Travelling with oxygen

Oxygen is portable and your child may need to take it with them when they leave the house. The cylinder needs to be securely fitted during transport to ensure it won’t move. This may involve a carry bag, trolley, designated pram space or car attachment. If using oxygen in the car, keep a window slightly open if possible and make sure the flow meter is upright so it can be read correctly. The cylinder will work if lying flat, but remember to secure it properly.

Please refer to the fact sheet, “travelling with respiratory support equipment” for additional information about air travel and using oxygen.

How do you get oxygen equipment and supplies?

When you leave hospital, we will provide you with an initial supply of oxygen cylinders for your home. You may later be eligible for government funding for the ongoing supply. If you are not eligible, you may need to cover the ongoing costs. The hospital staff will help to work out if you are eligible.

You will also be given disposable supplies, such as nasal prongs, tapes and tubing when you go home. Afterwards, you will need to buy these supplies, and we will give you information about where you can buy this from.

Other comments

  • If you are using an oxygen concentrator, the staff will provide you with an Electricity Rebate Form. By submitting this to your electricity company, you will be entitled to a rebate on your bills and automatically be placed on the ‘priority list’ for reconnection in the event of power outages at home.
  • Inform your insurance company in writing that you have medical oxygen in your home, as this may affect your policy.

What if your child becomes unwell at home?

If your child is breathing rapidly, noisily or seems to be having difficulty breathing you should see a doctor urgently.

If the problem is very severe you may see a dusky or blue colour around your child’s lips or you may notice pauses in their breathing. You should call an ambulance (000) if this occurs and inform them that your child is using oxygen.

Contact details

Children’s Hospital at Westmead
If you have a problem with the oxygen supply or to arrange delivery phone CHW Inhalation Therapy on (02) 9845 2831 or via switchboard on (02) 9845 0000 and ask to speak with Inhalation Therapy.

For other general enquiries regarding oxygen phone:

Clinical nurse consultant (02) 9845 2572

Clinical nurse specialist (02) 9845 0230

Registered nurse (02) 9845 0545

Sydney Children’s Hospital Randwick
Oxygen Provider: Devilbiss Healthcare provide 24hr Service: (02) 9899 3144

For general enquires during business hours:
Phone: (02) 9382 1048 (Care Continuum Coordinator).

John Hunter Children’s Hospital
Oxygen Provider: BOC Healthcare
1800 050 999 (option 1) or healthcare@boc.com
Office Hours : 9am – 3pm
For next day delivery, orders are placed prior to midday.


  • Regularly check your child’s oxygen equipment.
  • Follow safety advice when using oxygen at home or when travelling.
  • Do not stop or change the use of oxygen without speaking to your child’s doctor first.

We gratefully acknowledge the use of the images provided by BOC Healthcare.

The Sydney Children's Hospitals Network
Hunter New England Kids Health

For publications recommended by our hospitals' experts, please visit the Kids Health book shop.