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Could your Chamber Exhaust Termination Points be blocked?

April, May and June are the peak months for tornadoes in the United States. We have heard from colleagues about severe storms hitting their facilities. In tornadoes and other harsh weather conditions, the chamber exhaust termination point can become buried in snowdrifts or draped with material resulting from heavy winds. 

To illustrate this point, a center in the heart of tornado alley narrowly escaped a touchdown that may have caused considerable and noticeable damage to the building. The mindful hyperbaric technician thought to inspect the roof after the winds, despite the fact that the roof had been inspected weeks before.

Below is a picture of plastic sheeting that blew onto their roof and completely covered all three termination points of the chamber exhaust. Should this debris have completely occluded their lines, the ability for the chamber to exhaust oxygen would have malfunctioned. 



Routine chamber inspections are very important but thinking outside the box when scenarios like inclement weather is absolutely necessary to maintain a safe chamber operation for you and your patient. 

As part of routine chamber inspections, it’s important to consider all aspects that impact chamber operation, from the bulk liquid oxygen site located outside the building and plumbed all the way to the chamber suite, to the chamber exhaust line that exits the suite via the headwall and runs to either the building rooftop or exterior side wall. Ensuring the chamber lines that are coming and going remain free of occlusions is imperative.

 The termination point of the chamber exhaust line

can easily be overlooked

Perhaps because of the location or challenges with obtaining access to visualize, we know there can be problems with the termination point of the chamber exhaust. We recommend inspection by someone with knowledge of safe chamber operation on a monthly basis and after any significant weather event such as high winds, heavy rain, or ice and snow.

The NFPA 99 chapter 14 (2012 edition) offers several standards that aid us in awareness and maintenance of safety. We've highlighted the most important for you: 

  • 14.2.9.2 - Exhaust from all classes of chambers shall be piped outside of the building. (Each chamber shall have its own exhaust line)
  • 14.2.9.2.1 - Each Class B chamber shall have an independent exhaust line.
  • 14.2.9.2.2 - The point of exhaust shall not create a hazard.
  • 14.2.9.2.3 - The point of exhaust shall not allow reentry of gases into the building.
  • 14.2.9.2.4 - The point of exhaust shall be protected by the provision of a minimum of 0.3 cm mesh screen and situated to prevent intrusion of rain, snow or airborne debris.
  • 14.2.9.2.5 - The point of exhaust shall be identified as an oxygen exhaust by a sign prohibiting smoking or open flame. With a roof top exhaust at least 18 inches tall terminating with an elbow turn facing downward to prevent rain entry and one that has a screen cover to prevent debris entry and signage to warn others.

Resources

The WoundReference Hyberbaric Oxygen Therapy Knowledge Base features guidelines to promote high standards of patient care and operational safety within the hyperbaric program and other important tools.

For customized safety programs and other wound care and hyperbaric medicine consultation services, visit MidWest Hyperbaric

Acknowledgement

We thank Julie Rhee ScM, for style editing




About the Authors

Jeff Mize, RRT, CHT, UHMSADS
Jeff is a Principal Partner with Midwest Hyperbaric LLC and is the Co-founder and Chief Clinical Officer for Wound Reference. Jeff is a Registered Respiratory Therapist, a Certified Hyperbaric Technologist (CHT) by the National Board of Diving and Hyperbaric Medical Technology, a Certified Wound Care Associate (CWCA) by the American Academy of Wound Management. After receiving primary hyperbaric training from National Baromedical Services he trained as a UHMS Safety Director and is a UHMS Facility Accreditation Surveyor. He is the 2010 recipient of the Gurnee Award and the 2013 recipient of the Paul C. Baker Award for Hyperbaric Oxygen Safety Excellence. He has also served on the UHMS Board of Directors (2010-2015) In 2020, Jeff received "The Associates Distinguished Service award (UHMSADS). "This award is presented to individual Associate member of the Society whose professional activities and standing are deemed to be exceptional and deserving of the highest recognition we can bestow upon them . . . who have demonstrated devotion and significant time and effort to the administrative, clinical, mechanical, physiological, safety, technical practice, and/or advancement of the hyperbaric community while achieving the highest level of expertise in their respective field. . . demonstrating the professionalism and ethical standards embodied in this recognition and in the UHMS mission.”
Tiffany Hamm, BSN, RN, CWS, ACHRN, UHMSADS
An Advanced Certified Hyperbaric Registered Nurse and Certified Wound Specialist with expertise in billing, coding and reimbursement specific to hyperbaric medicine and wound care services. UHMS Accreditation Surveyor and Safety Director. Principal partner of Midwest Hyperbaric LLC, a hyperbaric and wound consultative service. Tiffany received her primary and advanced hyperbaric training through National Baromedical Services in Columbia South Carolina. In 2021, Tiffany received the UHMS Associate Distinguished Service Award
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