Whether you live with a cardiac condition, work in an emergency-care setting or simply have an interest in heart health, it’s worthwhile to learn more about defibrillators. Automated external defibrillators, or AEDs, are becoming more and more commonplace as advanced medical technology continues to infiltrate our lives. However, most people don't know how to use them.

While there's no replacement for taking a training class to learn how to operate these devices, here are some tips to give you a basic knowledge about safely using them.

Notify the appropriate parties

As the American Heart Association points out, it's important that the appropriate parties are notified once an AED has been acquired. In most cases, this will mean contacting the local emergency medical services dispatcher. It's important that EMS are made aware of your AED, particularly if it is at a private residence, as this will influence the way that EMS chooses to dispatch care and professionals in the event of an emergency.

If you have an AED and are trained to use it, the dispatcher may advise you to use it on the victim. Further, EMS having knowledge of your AED will allow them to advise you on when it needs maintenance or replacement.

Never misuse an AED

This one may seem obvious, but it's extremely important that you never misuse an AED. These machines are designed to detect an abnormality in or absence of a heartbeat, which they then correct. Considering the powerful shock that they send through the victim’s body, these machines can be dangerous or even lethal when used improperly.

Never use an AED on someone who doesn't require emergency treatment, and be sure that the device is kept somewhere where children cannot gain access to it easily. Further, ensure that each member of your household or business has some training in how to use the AED. This way, if it ever needs to be used, you're almost guaranteed to be in the presence of someone who knows how to use it.

Consider the impact on others

When a situation calls for the use of an AED, the immediate concern is for the victim. First and foremost, this individual needs to be cared for medically. Still, it's important that the needs of others present are met as well.

As the website St. John's Ambulance says, those who witness the use of an AED and the traumatic situation leading up to it may be in a state of emotional duress following the event. Ensure that everyone is okay and make resources available to help them get past what happened.