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.
Each AED manufacturer lists an operating temperature range and standby temperature range on the AED’s 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 usually listed at 32° to 122°F (0° to 50°C) for most units.
In order to maximize the life of your AED’s pads and batteries, the AED shouldn’t be stored in temperatures that exceed the specified standby temperatures, which can vary by manufacturer. Refer to your AED’s technical data sheet or operator’s manual to determine the specified standby temperature range.
Defibrillator pads (also referred to as electrodes), are placed on the victim’s chest to deliver an AED shock 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, over time the water-based gel on the pads can evaporate, causing the pads to be unable to stick to a victim’s chest well enough 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 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, a service call will be necessary.
Cold temperatures can also affect your AED. See our news article “Your AED Accessories are Freezing Too!” for more info.
For an AED to restart the heart of a person in sudden cardiac arrest, being ready to perform in an emergency is crucial. So if it’s hot out, check your AED today!