Choosing a suitable outdoor AED cabinets
There are many automated external defibrillator (AED) and AED cabinets to choose from. This blog has been produced to highlight the requirements for purchasing and installing an outdoor AED cabinet. Fortunately, there is a growing demand for these cabinets and as a result there is continuous product development by manufacturers.
If you are placing an AED outside, then it is vital to choose a suitable cabinet. This ensures that your expensive AED is protected from the elements, as well as the prevention of tampering and theft.
When choosing an outdoor AED cabinet you should check that the cabinet is temperature controlled. AEDs have recommended operating temperatures, which are specified by the manufacturer. The operating temperature stated allows the preservation of battery life and prevents the water-based electrode pads from freezing in cold conditions. Many outdoor cabinets now have internal thermostats, which allows the internal temperature to be controlled and maintained by a heater when it’s too cold and in some cases a cooling fan when it’s too hot.
Some manufacturers have alarm systems that can be installed in AED cabinets. These tend to have several positive points. The alarm can deter tampering and theft and alerts others that an emergency is taking place.
Most outdoor AED cabinets are supplied complete with lighting. This allows the cabinet to be illuminated at night, making them easy to find and when trying to access the cabinet in dark conditions you can see what you are doing. Some AED cabinets only have internal lighting, which is visible once access has been obtained. With this type of cabinet it is important to ensure that external lighting is available in the location that the cabinet is placed in.
Locks for your cabinet
Ideally all AED cabinets should be unlocked allowing access with no barriers to the AED. This prevents the help provider being delayed in a stressful situation.
Open access defibrillator cabinets are recommended by the UK Resuscitation Council. However, in areas where security is a concern a lockable cabinet is an option providing that your local ambulance service will support this. If a decision is made to use a lockable cabinet, we recommend that a keypad based lock is placed on your cabinet that can be accessed by inputting a combination code manually. This allows easy access by anyone over a phone, whereas a key locked cabinet cannot; delaying access to the AED. Remember that every minute your casualty has to wait for defibrillation, their chance of survival declines by approximately 10% per minute without the correct intervention.
Indoor cabinets should NEVER be used outdoors as they are not suitable and you may invalidate the warranty of your AED!
Cabinets electrical systems that can be plugged into a wall always have a risk that somebody may unintentionally turn the cabinet off! This option often is slightly cheaper as a qualified electrician will not be required to fit the device. We recommend that cabinets that are installed outside are done so by qualified personnel. Plugged cabinets will have a transformer system, which reduces the electrical output supplied to the cabinet making it much safer for users.
Hardwired cabinet ensure that the cabinet is not switched off. This type of cabinet will require an electrician to complete the installation which will increase the overall cost.
The IP rating highlights the ingress protection rating of the cabinet and shows how dust and waterproof the cabinet is. The higher the IP rating the more weatherproof the cabinet is. Bear in mind that any modifications you make to the cabinet, such as drilled holes to mount the cabinet to a wall or to install the electrical supply will adjust this rating. Make sure you check with the manufacturer if the cabinet is pre-drilled or not.
Colour of cabinet
Typically AED cabinets are a florescent colour such as yellow or green. However, most manufacturers will design the front of the cabinet to your specifications. The most important thing to remember is that the cabinet is easily visible in an emergency.
Construction and materials used
- Stainless steelis often one of the most expensive materials a cabinet can be made from, however it is strong and durable. This material is ideally suited for cabinets that will be placed in areas where salt water exposure is likely.
- Mild steel cabinets are generally cheaper and weigh a lot more. These cabinets tend not to last as long as stainless steel or aluminium cabinets. They are strong & durable; providing a thick gauge steel is used. Mild steel will eventually rust. Often faster if the paint or powder coating is damaged.
- Aluminium is typically lighter than stainless steel and mild steel and is strong and durable providing it is a thick gauge. Aluminium can also corrode especially if paint or powder coatings are damaged.
- Plastic cabinets are becoming very popular. They are generally much lighter than metal and providing they are made of durable plastics such as polycarbonate and ABS they will be strong, durable and won’t suffer from corrosion like some metal cabinets can. However, they are not fire proof and tend to be weaker than any of the materials above.
Checks and serviceability
Your AED cabinet will require maintenance. Normally this is very simple such as regularly checking and oiling moving parts such as hinges and locks. The supplier should be able to give advice on maintenance and provide spare parts if required in the event of a failure of a component.
Status indicator visible
Many cabinets tend to allow users to view the AED status symbol through a Perspex window at the front of the cabinet. This can be useful when quickly checking the AED. This does make the cabinet weak and may tempt thieves to steel these devices. Other cabinets on the market will use a traffic light system. Green for an AED in the cabinet or red for not in the cabinet. This type of cabinet tends to have a solid metal door with no viewing window. These cabinets will tend to be more secure and require the door to be opened to inspect that the AED is present and in working order.
Make sure the defibrillator you purchase fits in your cabinet with the additional items and carry cases. There are some AEDs on the market that are larger and may not fit correctly in some AED cabinets, so check before you buy.
Informing the ambulance service
It is essential that your local ambulance service are given full details of the location of your defibrillator, cabinet details and code or access details as well as the type of defibrillator in the cabinet. All local ambulance service trusts have a registration process and will usually send you a form with the details they require so they can add this to their CAD system. When they receive a 999 call they then have the defibrillator details on their system should they need to direct somebody to it in an emergency. Normally a responsible person takes responsibility for these devices. The ambulance service often contact this person when the device is used.
So in summary when choosing your AED cabinet?
- Will it protect your AED from adverse weather conditions such as rain and snow?
- Will it keep your AED warm when it is freezing cold outside?
- Will it keep your AED cool when the weather is hot?
- Will it provide ventilation for your AED, so that condensation build up is prevented?
- Will it be easily accessible when needed? Be clearly labelled and easy to see?
- Will it be economical to run?
- Will it last as long as the AED or outlast it?
If you need help or guidance in choosing a defibrillator and or cabinet, then we will be happy to assist to make the process easy. Our advice is honest, impartial and we only recommend brands that are of good quality.