The Importance of AEDs

First, it’s worth emphasizing the importance of AEDs. Sudden cardiac arrest is a leading cause of death worldwide. A victim’s chances of survival diminish by 7-10% for every minute that passes without defibrillation.

This urgency underscores the importance of having AEDs available and knowing how to use them correctly.

How Will You Use the AED if the Victim Has a Hairy Chest?

When confronted with a victim who has a hairy chest, the adhesive pads might not stick well due to the hair, which could result in ineffective shock delivery. Let’s break down the steps to ensure optimal pad contact:

  1. Inspect the Chest: Before applying the AED pads, inspect the chest. If it’s lightly hairy, you might be able to proceed without any additional steps.
  2. Shaving the Chest: If the chest hair is thick and you suspect it might hinder pad adherence, it’s recommended to shave the area where the pads will be placed. Some AED kits come with a razor for this very purpose. If you don’t have a razor on hand, press the pads down firmly – sometimes the adhesive is strong enough to compress the hair and make good contact. But remember, a direct skin contact is always best.
  3. Applying the Pads: Once the area is prepared, apply the pads as instructed by the AED. Ensure that the pads have complete contact with the skin, without any air bubbles.

Other special circumstances of using AED other than hairy chests.

1.Use on Wet or Metallic Surfaces

Using an AED when the victim is on a wet or metallic surface poses unique challenges. There’s a misconception that water and electricity don’t mix, and while there’s truth to that, it doesn’t mean you can’t use an AED in such conditions. If a person has experienced cardiac arrest while in water (like a pool), it’s essential first to move them to a dry location if possible. This is not just for the safety of the victim but also for the rescuer.

Image alt text: how to use an AED on a victim with hairy chest.

Author credit: By Chest_waxing.jpg: vanzderivative work: Beao – Chest_waxing.jpg, CC BY-SA 2.0,

Once moved, before applying the AED pads, ensure the chest is dried off properly. This reduces the risk of the electric current traveling across the wet skin, which could result in an ineffective shock. As for metallic surfaces, there’s a potential risk of electrical conduction, though it’s minimal. Still, if possible, move the victim to a non-conductive surface before using the AED.

2.Use on Pregnant Women

Cardiac emergencies in pregnant women are rare but pose a challenging scenario when considering AED use. The primary concern is not just for the mother, but also for the unborn child. However, it’s crucial to remember that if a pregnant woman is in cardiac arrest, using an AED is necessary for both the mother and baby’s best chances of survival.

The procedure for using an AED and CPR on a pregnant woman is similar to that for any other person. Ensure proper pad placement (avoiding the fetus) and administer the shock as advised by the AED. Once the immediate cardiac emergency has been dealt with, the woman should be placed on her left side to improve blood flow to the fetus and receive immediate advanced medical care.

3.Use on Children and Infants

The possibility of using an AED on children or infants is a scenario no one wishes to face, but it’s essential to be prepared. Most public access AEDs are equipped for adult use. However, many come with pediatric pads and settings because children (especially those under 8 years or weighing less than 55 pounds) require a lower energy level for defibrillation.

If you encounter a situation where a child needsCPR and defibrillation and you only have adult AED pads, it’s generally recommended to use them rather than not using the AED at all. Place one pad on the child’s chest and the other on their back to ensure effective delivery of the shock. For infants, the pads should also be placed in a front-to-back manner. Following the use of an AED on children or infants, it’s critical to ensure they receive immediate professional medical care.

Common Questions About AED Use on a Hairy Chest

  1. What if I don’t have a razor?
    If you don’t have a razor on hand, press the pads down firmly. The adhesive might be strong enough to compress the hair. But, as stated, direct skin contact is the best.
  2. Are there risks if I use the AED on a very hairy chest?
    There’s a risk of reduced shock efficiency, and sometimes, the hair can get singed, which might create a small burn. But it’s better than not attempting a life-saving defibrillation.
  3. What if the victim has a pacemaker?
    If the victim has a pacemaker or implanted defibrillator, avoid placing the AED pads directly over the device. The electrical shock can damage it.
  4. How will I know where to place the pads?
    The AED will have diagrams showing proper pad placement. Generally, one pad is placed to the right of the chest, above the nipple, and the other is placed to the left of the chest, below the armpit. But always follow the provided diagrams.
  5. What if the victim is wet?
    Dry the chest before applying the pads. Water can interfere with the shock’s delivery.


Understanding how will you use the AED if the victim has a hairy chest is crucial to ensuring the efficacy of the life-saving shock provided by the AED. While some scenarios, like a hairy chest, can complicate the process, being aware of these nuances and preparing accordingly can make all the difference.

Always remember, in emergencies, it’s vital to act quickly, remain as calm as possible, and use the tools and knowledge available to you to save a life.