Having an automated external defibrillator in the home or office can be a necessity for many Americans. Previously, AEDs were only available to buy with a prescription in cases where someone in the home may be at high risk for cardiac arrest. However, those rules have since changed, allowing anyone to purchase a personal AED device.
Given that most of the cardiac arrests in the US happen outside of the hospital, having an AED on hand can be lifesaving. Studies show that using an AED while waiting for paramedics to arrive can significantly increase a person’s survival likelihood.
Although it’s required to have AED devices, they don’t get used often. However, that doesn’t mean they don’t need regular maintenance. In fact, AED maintenance is just as important as knowing how to use the device.
This article presents the specifics of buying and maintaining AEDs and how to make sure your device is operational.
Buying an AED: Know Your AED Devices
If you’re interested in buying an AED for the home, there are some essential things you need to take into consideration.
There are many sources, especially online, that sell AEDs; however, not all of them are trustworthy or approved. Furthermore, there are various types of AEDs and some of them are not suitable for home use.
The following are three very important factors to consider when buying an AED device.
Generally, there are three types of AEDs: manual, semi-automatic, and automatic. A device that’s designed for home use will always be either semi-automatic or fully automatic.
The semi-automatic devices feature a button that needs to be pressed for the AED to deliver a shock to the heart. Although the computer in these AEDs analyzes on its own, user input is still required for it to act.
Fully automatic AEDs don’t require this type of user input and act autonomously. As a lay rescuer, cardiac arrest episodes are high-stress situations, so a fully automated device may be the best choice.
The FDA has a list of approved AED manufacturers whose devices have been tested and confirmed. When buying, you should always choose one of them.
Even though you may run into cheaper options, having a device that has been approved will offer both peace of mind and the right results when needed.
Furthermore, these FDA approved manufacturers will continually update you on your device and offer crucial information on how your AED works and how you should take care of it.
Prices for AEDs may range from $900 to $2500. The price depends on the brand, type of the device, its size, its features, and more.
When buying an AED, remember that you don’t need a device with many features. Instead, stick with a small, effective AED that’s easy to use, store, and transport.
AED Maintenance: Everything You Need to Know
Regular AED inspection is a necessary part of owning an AED. Even though the device itself doesn’t have an expiration date, many of its components do, so you’ll always need to make sure everything is up-to-date.
Just like any battery, AED batteries also have a use-by date. You can check your AED batteries expiration date on the back of the battery itself.
Most of the time, your AED battery will have three dates on the back. These dates represent the manufacture date, the install-by date, and the best-by date. Even if you’ve never used your AED, you’ll always need to change the battery with a new one.
Most AED batteries will expire within 5 to 7 years of their manufacture date.
If your AED doesn’t have a rechargeable battery, you’ll need to stay vigilant and replace the batteries regularly.
The AED pads also come with a best-before date. AED pads expiration date is indicated on the packaging but not on the pads themselves. Because of this, it’s always smart to either keep the packaging or make a note of the date and keep it with the AED.
AED pads are made of plastic and metal, which don’t expire. However, it’s the conductive adhesive gel on them that does. This gel helps stick the pads onto a person’s chest and aids in electric shock delivery; both fundamental functions.
The gel usually has a shelf life of around 2 to 4 years, which means that pads should be replaced within this interval.
The AED cleaning procedure will heavily depend on the manufacturer of your AED and their recommendations. However, one universal fact that’s true for all AEDs is that they need to be cleaned and disinfected regularly.
If you’re unsure when and how you need to clean your AED, we recommend visiting your manufacturer’s website. However, if you have used the AED, you must clean it before returning it in its storage.
To clean your AED, you’ll need a pair of gloves and an approved cleaning solution. Before cleaning, put the gloves on and inspect the device. Check for any physical damage or bodily fluids.
After that, you can apply your cleaner and leave it on the surface for the designated period of time. You must make certain that no liquid gets into any crevices, especially in the battery area. If your AED is in a case, remove it.
Once disinfected, you’ll have to replace all disposable items and store the device.
You should always have spare AED pads and batteries stored alongside your device. However, it’s important to not buy these items in bulk. Instead, refresh your supply before replacing the disposable items, as you’ll get a use-by date that’s further away.
For batteries, the use-by date is around 7 years, and for pads, the use-by date is 18 to 30 months. If you have unused items that haven’t been placed on an AED, dispose of them regardless.
We’d also like to recommend against purchasing your own adhesive conductive gel and trying to update old AED pads with it.
AED Storage: The Best Places to Keep Your AED
Once you buy your AED, the responsibility of keeping it safe falls on you. Due to the nature of the device, it needs to be inaccessible to children yet still able to be taken out in the case of an emergency.
The rule of thumb for AEDs is that the device should be able to be taken out and deliver a shock within 3 minutes of a cardiac arrest episode. Because of this, keeping it locked away may not be the best option.
Instead, opt for a space that’s high up and away from children’s reach, like a cabinet that can be easily opened by an adult. When choosing the location, make certain the space is dry, cold, and has no direct sunlight.
Furthermore, the AED should always be stored within its original case, except when in use.
If you have a portable AED and want to keep it in your car, follow the same guidelines. The trunk or a locked glove compartment is the best option, with the key for the compartment attached to your car keys.
Steps to Take After Buying an AED
Immediately after buying an AED, there are a few steps you’ll need to take to make sure you are familiar with all the relevant information and up-to-date with your AED maintenance procedures.
You can register your AED with its manufacturer by visiting their website. There, you’ll be able to find all the necessary information about using, storing, and cleaning your device.
After buying, consider taking a training class to learn how to use your AED properly. It is also recommended to do a test run so you can better understand how the device works.
To stay informed, you can either sign up for alerts from your manufacturer or check their website regularly for any updates or recalls. Many manufacturers also update on any possible changes in the proper use of AEDs which you should always be aware of.
Home AED Maintenance: Conclusion
We hope you found our article on maintaining AEDs helpful and informative and now feel more confident about how to take care of your AED device. Always remember that, even if not used, an AED has to be maintained in order to stay ready if you ever need it.
When buying AED batteries, ensure they are by a manufacturer-approved supplier, as not all batteries can deliver the necessary power for the life-saving shock. This same rule applies to AED pads, as well.