Safety and Hygiene When Using Asthma Spacers

Spacers are a common first aid tool.  They help a first aider administer an Asthma inhaler to a child suffering an attack.  Many parents even provide their child’s school or childcare centre with a spacer as well as an inhaler.  However this isn’t always the case.

To ensure proper administration of the medication, some first aid kits include a spacer ready, just in case.  This is common practice in many areas where children are at risk of an asthma attack.  It has also been common practice in to clean these spacers after use and return them to the first aid kit for use by another child.

While this practice is common, it is not always advisable as the spacer can become a means of transmitting infection if it is not cleaned properly.  As a reflection of this some states are implementing new requirements for communal spacers.

In Queensland and NSW, spacers should be treated as single-person use only. This means that once a spacer has been used, it should be given to the person who used it, or thrown away. They can no longer be cleaned and re-used by another person.

This means that organizations that keep spacers in their first aid kit should always have additional devices available to replace those that have been used.
In other states, first aid kit spacers may still be cleaned after use and  returned to the kit.  To clean the spacer properly you must:

  1. Take the spacer apart and wash with detergent
  2. Allow the spacer parts to air dry
  3. Clean the mouth piece with an alcohol wipe
  4. Reassemble and replace in the first aid kit.

If there is an emergency and the spacer needs to be used again before there is a chance to wash it, the mouthpiece must at least be wiped with an alcohol wipe. To minimise the risk of cross infection, you may decide to keep multiple spacers in the kit to allow for proper cleaning after use.

If you’re not sure, contact your local Asthma Foundation on 1800 645 130.

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