Defib…It’s Cold Outside

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Christmas may have passed for another year, but there is one thing that we have been left with – the freezing weather! January can be one of the coldest months of the year, bringing rain, frost and even snow on some occasions.You may not be a fan of this cold weather, and neither is your defibrillator. The low temperatures can present risks for your life-saving device and have a significant impact on its performance.

We share some tips on how you can maintain your defibrillator when the cold weather hits, so that it is always ready to use in a Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) emergency.

Defib… It’s Cold Outside infographic

Icy Electrode Pads

There are certain accessories that your defibrillator requires to function effectively in the event of SCA. Electrode pads are essential when it comes to saving a life, as they analyse the patient’s heart rhythm and then relay the information back to the defibrillator. Without fully-functioning pads, a shock cannot be advised and provided to help restart the heart rhythm.

If electrode pads are exposed to colder temperatures, the gel on pads can freeze, therefore will not be able to stick on the patient’s chest.

Below-Zero Battery

The battery is another important component for your defibrillator, as this enables the device to switch on and deliver a shock if necessary.

Batteries will also help your life-saving device to perform daily/weekly/monthly self-checks, which monitor the subsystems, hardware, software and electrode pads to ensure that they are in full working order.

Lithium batteries have been recorded to lose charge when exposed to cold temperatures, therefore rendering your defibrillator useless. If your battery becomes fully drained, your device will be unable to inform you that anything is wrong via its usual bleeps or flashes, so it is vital to manually check your AED during periods of cold weather.

Sensible Storage Solutions

If you wish to keep your AED outside during the Winter months, you will need to purchase an outdoor heated storage solution. These particular cabinets have a heating feature that will automatically switch on when a lower temperature is detected.

However, you can just as easily move your defibrillator to an indoor location. Storage solutions for an indoor environment include wall brackets and cabinets, improving the accessibility of your device and protecting it from any general wear-and-tear.

Ideal Temperature

Just as you would prefer to be laying on a beach in the Caribbean during Winter, your defibrillator would prefer to be kept somewhere warm. AED manufacturer, Cardiac Science, recommends AED standby and operating temperatures of 0°C to 50°C for optimal performance.

You may notice that your defibrillator’s readiness indicator alerts you if your device becomes too cold, which may be in the form of a light turning from green to red, a tick turning to a cross or an empty battery symbol. In this case, we would recommend bringing your device inside or investing in a heated outdoor cabinet.

Beat the Blues

Around 5,000 people are sadly lost to SCA in Ireland each year and effective CPR and defibrillation is the only definitive method for treating this. Therefore, it is crucial to have an AED that is accessible at all times.

Now that you are aware of how the cold weather affects your AED, you can take action and ensure that it remains in full working order, because defib…it’s cold outside.

Have you protected your life-saving investment? Tell us how you plan to keep your defibrillator warm this Winter by tweeting us @defibshop_ie.

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