Storing & Transporting Oxygen

There are no set federal or provincial regulations for the storage or transportation of the small tanks (sizes B, C, or D) of compressed oxygen or medical oxygen that midwives carry and there are no signs that need to be displayed on the vehicle carrying the tanks. However, there are best practice recommendations for the safe transport and storage of oxygen tanks to maximize the useful life of equipment and its safe use. These also apply to the transport of small nitrous oxide tanks according to their respective material safety data sheets (MSDS). Consider the following:

  • As oxygen is an oxidizing agent, it vigorously accelerates combustion so tanks should be kept away from open flames or sparks.
  • Tanks should be stored and transported with the regulators unattached to ensure that there is no risk of something hitting the regulator and accidentally allowing the gas to leak out or of something damaging the regulator.
  • Do not use a tank or regulator that appears damaged. Return it to the supplier for inspection, repair or replacement.
  • Arrange the storage area so that full and empty tanks are not mixed-up and a midwife does not inadvertently take an empty tank that they believed was full. If the tanks come with Full/In use/Empty tear off tags, these can be used to keep track.
  • To prevent the damage of tanks, take steps to prevent tanks from rolling around, being dragged or falling over.
  • Store tanks in the upright or standing position when in the clinic or wherever tanks are stored. When transporting tanks in the car, secure them in the trunk of a car and/or in a bag that stops them from rolling around and protects them while “lying down” in the trunk.
  • Tanks should not be stored in a car if the car has the potential of reaching greater than 52°C. The pressure increases inside the tank as the temperature rises, which can cause the safety valve to pop and the gas to be released. While this prevents the tank from exploding due to high pressure, it results in the tank being emptied. This can get tricky in the summer months. One supplier recommends that the tanks come inside on particularly hot days and are not left in a car.
  • The car insurance company should be aware that medical-grade oxygen and/or nitrous is being transported in the insured vehicle.
  • Check the material safety data sheets (MSDS) for further information. These can be obtained from the supplier on the internet.