When a bystander reaches for an automated external defibrillator (AED) during a sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) emergency, it’s vital that the device be ready to deliver a life-saving shock with proper pad placement. AEDs are sophisticated medical devices designed for years of service, but they require regular inspections and periodic, basic care to stay in proper working order. This means consistent visual inspections to verify the AED readiness status indicator, storage in a temperature-controlled area, and regular replacement of consumables such as batteries and electrode pads. These simple steps will extend the life of your AED and ensure it is ready when you need it.
Perform Routine Visual Inspections
It is important—and required in many states — to regularly inspect your AED to ensure it’s in proper working order when needed for a rescue. AEDs are designed to perform rigorous self-tests and indicate the result to signal device readiness. Some beep when a problem arises, and others feature a flashing visual status indicator. Be sure to consult your manufacturer’s instructions on how to inspect your device so that you know it’s in good working order.
It is recommended that you perform regular monthly visual inspections — some states require even more frequent visual inspections — to ensure your AEDs are ready for use when you need them. ZOLL® AEDs perform a series of automatic self-tests that regularly verify that the internal circuitry, battery, and pads are fully functional. In addition, ZOLL AEDs all have a visual status indicator that reflects rescue readiness. It is important to note that some states require regularly documented maintenance and testing to confirm device readiness. You can check state and local guidance here to make sure that your organization is compliant.
Organizations that require multiple AEDs to keep employees and the public safe will ultimately have more information to track — more consumable expiry dates, dates of any CPR/AED trainings that employees may choose to take, and other compliance matters. In those cases, we suggest using AED program management software, such as PlusTrac™. PlusTrac makes it easy to keep your AEDs inspected and in compliance with state and local maintenance requirements, your consumables up to date, volunteer responders trained, and all your AEDs properly managed by sending status updates via email.
Properly Place and Store AEDs
Device longevity is impacted by the environmental conditions an AED is exposed to, making proper storage very important. AEDs come with manufacturer-recommended operating and storage temperature ranges, along with suggested humidity and pressure ranges. Always follow your manufacturer’s guidelines when deciding where to store an AED in order to extend the life of the device. Please also note the recommended storage temperature range for consumables that are integral to the device’s successful use.
AEDs located indoors should be kept in high-visibility locations free of obstructions and approximately four feet off the ground. Recommended locations include common spaces and areas that are quickly accessible, such as main hallways, reception areas, cafeterias, fitness centers, and auditoriums. Some states even offer guidance on language for AED signs and where to locate them in order to alert responders to the location of nearby AEDs.
When it’s necessary to store an AED outside, it’s best to adhere to the manufacturer’s suggested storage temperature range. To accommodate temperature fluctuations, you can purchase an outdoor, temperature-controlled AED cabinet that will keep your device at the temperature recommended by the manufacturer.
When to Clean the Unit
Following use in a rescue, your AED should be inspected as well as cleaned and disinfected. Use a soft, damp cloth and 90% isopropyl alcohol or soap and water to clean the unit and avoid using any abrasive material (e.g., paper towels) on the display or near the ports. Do not immerse any part of the unit in water.
Replace Expired Pads and Batteries
The shelf life of batteries and pads ranges by manufacturer and model. Both can last anywhere from two to five years. Most ZOLL consumables have an industry-leading, five-year life span. Please refer to your device manual for guidance and strictly adhere to any expiration dates on consumables.
Routine Inspection and Maintenance Checklist
Regular inspections and proper care can give you peace of mind that your AED is in optimum working condition. Follow our simple maintenance checklist to ensure that your AED is ready when you need it.
- Knowledge of state laws and requirements.
- The unit is clean, undamaged, and free of excessive wear.
- The green status indicator shows the AED passed its most recent self-test.
- The housing has no cracks or loose parts.
- The electrodes are present, sealed in their package, and within their expiration date.
Note that some models feature connected electrodes, while others do not. Make sure yours are present as your instructions specify.
- All cables are free of cracks, cuts, and exposed or broken wires.
- The battery is within its expiration date.
- Your AED is stored in a safe, visible, easily accessible location at a temperature that falls within the AED manufacturer’s suggested temperature range.
PlusTrac program management can also help larger organizations with multiple AEDs better manage their AED program compliance by tracking routine inspections performed by onsite staff, providing prompt notifications regarding battery or electrode expiration dates, and although unlikely, immediately notifying customers of any device notices or recalls.