Can an AED be used on a wet surface?

An AED can be used on a wet surface, although it is not ideal. There have been safety concerns regarding potential electrical shock hazards to people operating an AED on a wet surface. It is safe to use the AED if the patient is lying on snow or ice since they are not good conductors of electricity.

When possible, defibrillation should be performed on a dry surface. Bystanders not involved in the rescue should move as far off the wet surface as possible. If the patient cannot be safely and quickly moved to a dry surface, rescuers which must remain on the wet surface should follow safety precautions that make defibrillation with the AED safe. These include avoiding direct contact with the patient, correctly applying the self-adhesive pads, and making sure that the surface of the patient’s chest is dry with no water between the pads.

S. Joanne Dames - MD, MPH

Updated: 10/05/2019

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