AED Safety & Maintenance

AED Safety and Maintenance

AEDs are designed so that anyone can use them; the unit has a speaker function which tells you how to operate it, so you do not need any previous training.
AEDs are very safe to use, they will not allow a shock to be given unless the collapsed person needs one. AEDs can be stored for long periods without use and need very little maintenance.

It is helpful to store an accessory kit with the AED. These kits will typically include:
Spare AED pads, resuscitation face shield, a razor for shaving chest hair, scissors and gloves.

It is important that everyone knows where the AED is located. The sign below is recommended by the Resuscitation Council (UK) so that everyone uses a standard sign.


When using an AED there are a few safety measures to take into consideration, however do not delay defibrillation even if the person is on a metal surface or a wet surface as the risk of electric shock is very low.

Hazards to consider:

  1. Water – If a person is under water, they need to be removed from the water. The person does not need to be completely dry, however the chest area needs to be dry to ensure the pads will stick to the chest.
  2. Pacemakers and Implanted Defibrillators – Someone with an internal device can still be shocked with an AED. In fact, if their internal device does not save them immediately, it is crucial an AED is used as quickly as possible. If you do suspect an implanted device (visible scar or small bump in the chest) it is important not to place the pads directly over it. Put the pad below it or to the side.
  3. Flammable atmosphere – The AED may create a spark when in use so be aware if medical oxygen is being administered or chemical or petrol fumes are present.
  4. Medication Patch – examples of these are GTN patches for heart problems or Nicotine patches. If possible, remove any visible ones as a precaution.
  5. Jewellery – You do not need to remove jewellery, just avoid placing the pads over it.
  6. Tattoos – Tattoos do not interfere with the AED.


AEDs are easy to maintain. Many models will emit a warning beep if any maintenance is required.

AED battery life is usually between 2 to 5 years. Read the manufacturer’s instructions to check the lifespan of the batteries. Batteries will still need to be replaced even if the defibrillator has never been used.
AED pads also carry an expiry date so will need replacing even if they have never been used. Make a note of the expiry dates to allow time for re-order.
If an AED has been used the battery and pads will need changing immediately.

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