AED Signage Requirements and State AED Laws
When a cardiac emergency happens, bystanders need to take immediate action by calling 911, initiating CPR, and locating the nearest Automated External Defibrillator (AED). Having signage posted and visible to help community responders find AEDs when they need them is just as important as having signage in place to direct people to fire exits. An AED is only effective if responders can get to it!
AED Sign Placement – General Requirements
Signs need to be placed where they can be easily seen and read. Each floor of a multi-story building should be equipped with at least one AED. However, in reality, many buildings only have one or two AEDs available for the entire building.
AED signage needs to be located where anyone would be able to find the defibrillator. Ideally, AED signage should appear near the elevators, as that is a high-traffic area on every floor of a multi-story building. If a building has locations that are more likely to need an AED, like a gym for example, it should be placed there, and the signage around the building should direct rescuers to it. For instance, if an office building has a fitness center, at least one of the building’s AEDs should be located in that area as Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) can happen to anyone, especially during exercise.
Wherever the AEDs end up, adequate AED sign placement is critical so that any rescuer can find it quickly and easily.
State Laws for AED Signage Requirements
All 50 states have had laws and regulations in place related to AEDs since 2010. There are Good Samaritan laws enacted in each state (there is also a federal law known as the Cardiac Arrest Survival Act- CASA). Although Good Samaritan laws vary from state to state, by protecting bystanders from liability, the laws generally encourage bystanders and the lay public to perform CPR and to use an AED.
Some states mandate where to place AEDs, as well as specific AED signage requirements. According to the CDC, Louisiana requires higher education athletic departments to place an AED on the premises of the athletic department in an open-view, easy-to-access location that is within two feet of a telephone to call 911. Not all states currently have specific signage requirements.
Ideally, facility managers will ensure that AED units are clearly marked and easy to access. Posters or other literature with instructions for how to operate the AED should also be located near the device.
Here is a sampling of state laws pertaining to AEDs and signage:
In 2007 Maine’s legislature began to require AEDs in schools and at school-sponsored athletic events. Since 2016, AEDs have been required in health clubs. All Maine K-12 schools must also offer students CPR/AED training.
While Maine does not have specific laws regarding AED signage, students with knowledge of how to use an AED are going to need to be able to find one when they need it– signs are critical.
New Jersey legislature acted early (in 1999) to protect individuals who used AEDs from civil liability. The state went on to pass several laws and regulations, including the need for signs that identify the AED’s location in all schools.
New Jersey public and non-public schools are required to be equipped with an AED to save lives. Since 2014, New Jersey law also requires that all high school students receive CPR and AED training before they graduate.
California requires that AED signage be visible with clear instructions as to the location of all AEDs in the building. The state has also specified that instructions for using the AED must be posted next to the device, with font no smaller than 14 points.
Minnesota has enacted AED-related laws since 1998 but the state does not have AED signage requirements. Minnesota statute 403.51 states that anyone installing a public-use AED “encouraged but not required” to provide any signage as to the AED’s location.
With a slew of regulations and laws, Maryland requires AEDs at public swimming pools, in schools, and in certain law enforcement officer’s vehicles. It also provides Good Samaritan laws protecting AED users from civil liability and mandates the instruction in CPR and AED use for its students, but there are no specific laws regarding signage.
AEDs are required in schools and dental offices. School coaches must be trained in the use of them, as well as in CPR. Most recently, the state legislature “encourage[d] any person that owns, operates, or manages a public place to place functional automated external defibrillators (AEDs) in sufficient quantities.” The law intends for an AED to be readily available to anyone involved in a cardiac emergency in a public space. Although not explicitly stated, this does imply that signage would need to be present.
Lifesaving equipment must appear in schools, health clubs, pools, and similar spaces. The statute employs words like “conspicuous” when outlining where to place AEDs. In order to be conspicuous, signage would need to be posted, but this is not explicitly stated in the statute.
New York states that signs must appear at the main entrance of public buildings that contain AEDs. New York does not require other signs, such as signage near the AED to draw attention to its location. However, since schools must provide enough AEDs “to ensure ready and appropriate access,” the need for signage is implied within that mandate.
The universal AED sign shows a red heart with a white lightning bolt running through it. Some have arrows on them to direct rescuers to the location, and many buildings also post a 3-D sign above the AED unit.
Remember, an AED can only be effective if a responder can get to it! Do not place AED signs in hard-to-spot locations such as in recesses, behind furniture, or plants. Searching for an AED should take as little time as possible– every precious second counts during a cardiac emergency.