What You Need to Know About Using an AED on Someone in Water

Sudden Cardiac Arrest can occur unexpectedly, even when someone is in water. It is important to be aware that when using an AED on a person that is submerged, it must be done with extra caution. The wet environment can create potential hazards for both the victim and the person providing care, so it is important to follow the instructions in the AED's user manual to ensure safety.

Why Is It Important To Know How To Use An AED On Someone Who Has Been Submerged In Water?

When a person has been submerged in water, and their heart stops beating, it is important to know how to use an AED to restore the heart's normal rhythm. A person who has been submerged in water is at a greater risk for sudden cardiac arrest and death. This is because the cold water can cause their heart rate to suddenly drop, which can lead to cardiac arrest. In order to give the person the best chance of survival, it is essential to be aware of the steps that need to be taken when someone is submerged in water prior to using the AED.

What Steps Should Be Taken Before Using An AED To Treat Someone Who Has Been Submerged In Water?

1. Conduct a Scene Safety Assessment

As soon as the scene of the emergency is safe, it is important to assess the patient. Time is of the essence in an emergency, and it is important to ensure that the patient is not in a situation that could further harm them, such as shallow water, debris, and submerged objects. A nearby rescuer should observe the scene for dangers to both the patient and the rescuers and take any necessary steps to ensure the safety of all involved.

2. Evaluate the Patient’s Airway

Once the scene has been assessed, rescuers should next evaluate the patient’s airway for any blockage that may interfere with their breathing. The patient should be carefully repositioned to ensure that their airway is open and clear. The patient’s airway should be cleared with a finger sweep or a back slap if necessary.

3. Check for Responsiveness and Respiration

The rescuer should check the patient’s responsiveness and respiration by tapping on their shoulder and checking if they are breathing. If the patient is unresponsive and not breathing, then the rescuer should begin CPR.

4. Remove the Person from Water

If someone you think might be in cardiac arrest is in water, the most important thing to do is get them out of the water. Move them to a dry area, then make sure the area around them is also dry and free of any puddles.

5. Remove the Person's Wet Clothes

Before connecting the AED electrode pads to the individual, you need to take the time to remove their wet clothes so that their chest is exposed and ready for the pads.

6. Dry the Victim's Chest

Once the person's shirt is removed, it is important to ensure their chest is completely dry. Any water left on the skin can interfere with the AED, causing the electricity to pass through the skin instead of going into the person's chest to shock their heart. This can be dangerous, so it is essential to dry skin before using the AED.

7. Move Away from the Person Before Your AED Delivers the Electric Shock

After the electrode pads have been placed on the patient's body, the AED will commence its evaluation of the individual's heart rate. If the device determines the person requires an electrical shock, it will build up a charge and supply the necessary treatment.

Be sure to thoroughly review the user guide for your AED and follow the device's instructions exactly. Pay particular attention to not touching the individual being treated when the AED says not to.


Knowing what to do when someone has been submerged in water is essential to providing the best possible chance of survival. Using an AED in an emergency requires knowledge and awareness of the steps that must be taken before use. The steps outlined in this article can help ensure that the patient receives the most effective treatment.

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