Do you have an AED stored outside in a cabinet or in the trunk of your car in the summer heat?
Much like concerns for below freezing temperatures affecting the performance of an Automated External Defibrillator, extremely high temperatures can also be detrimental. For a medical device relied upon to restart the heart of a person in sudden cardiac arrest, being ready to perform in an emergency is crucial.
Each AED manufacturer lists an operating temperature range and standby temperature range on the AEDs technical data sheet or operator’s manual. Operating temperature refers to the range in which the AED will perform in a rescue situation and is normally listed at 32° to 122°F (0° to 50°C) for most units. In order to maximize the life of your AED pads and batteries, the AED unit should not be stored in temperatures that exceed the specified standby temperatures, which can vary by manufacturer. (Please refer to your specific AEDs guidelines here).
Defibrillator pads (electrodes), are placed on the patient’s chest to deliver a necessary shock from the AED to restart a heart experiencing ventricular fibrillation (a dangerous arrhythmia causing the heart to quiver chaotically). If your AED is exposed to extreme high temperatures, overtime the water-based gel on the pads may not perform fully due to excessive evaporation, causing pads to be unable to stick to a patient’s chest accurately to conduct the full electrical shock to the heart. Storing the pads at temperatures exceeding manufacturers’ specifications will cause them to expire prematurely.
Similarly, AED batteries can be affected by the heat. Over time, all batteries naturally self-discharge, which under normal environment conditions, lasts the full period of time specified by the AED manufacturer. Exposed to high temperatures in standby however, causes the battery to discharge prematurely by increasing the rate of discharge, therefore shortening the life of your battery.
If your AED must be stored outside in an area known for extreme high temperatures, make sure to place the AED in an area that will maximize shaded, cooler temperatures. When possible, store the AED indoors if temperatures are exceeding the standby temperature range specified for your unit.
For AEDs stored in vehicles, make sure to routinely check the unit for readiness. If the AED is chirping or displaying a service needed status indicator, take the unit indoors. Try removing the battery and reinstalling to see if the fail status clears. If the AED is still chirping or needs servicing, please call our 2nd Life biomedical technicians at 855-426-3543 for a free service estimate.