There will most likely come a time when you are required to handle a car battery in one way or another. When you do, if you aren’t careful, injuries -some more serious than others- may occur.
Prevent Blindness America states that every year there are around 6,000 eye injuries, including blindness, that are caused from auto batteries. This injury count is for the eyes alone, it does not include the numerous skin burns, hand injuries, and other possible injuries from the improper handling of car batteries. To bring awareness to the potential dangers of car batteries, October has been designated as Auto Battery Safety Month.
Proper knowledge of car batteries and battery safety is important because they contain sulfuric acid and produce hydrogen and oxygen gases that could cause the battery to explode if they come into contact with a spark. To remain safe when coming into contact with your car battery, please read on for our car battery facts and safety tips.
Tips for Maintaining the Battery
- Check your battery for cracks, corrosion, and loose wires every time you change your oil.
- Park in a garage. Both extremely hot and frigidly cold temperatures do a number on a car battery. Parking in a well-insulated garage helps limit the effects of the weather on the battery.
- Drive your vehicle regularly. Leaving a car stationary for an extended amount of time affects your batteries charge.
- Avoid frequent, short drives. Starting the car continuously can be taxing on the battery. Group several short errands into one longer car trip to avoid this.
- Turn off/unplug accessories. As an example, if you leave a cell phone charger plugged in the battery will recharge continuously, which shortens its life.
- Perform regular auto maintenance. Engines that are in poor condition can overload the battery.
Is the Battery Dying?
Most auto batteries will last two to three years. There won’t always be signs that the battery is dying, but sometimes the following will occur:
- When you turn the key, the engine cranks but does not start.
- Your lights aren’t working and the engine won’t start.
- One day the engine starts and the next it doesn’t.
- You have to jump-start it often.
How to Jump-Start Safely
Learn to safely jump-start a car battery with these tips from the Sight & Hearing Association and Prevent Blindness America:
- Practice preventative maintenance by regularly checking your car’s battery for wear and damage, especially before winter and summer. Battery connections should be clean, tight and corrosion free.
- Purchase a pair of jumper cables that are at least 12 feet long, color coded, and tested and approved by the Society of Automotive Engineers. Always make sure they are in good condition before using. Make sure they are rust and corrosion free before using them. Check that there are no exposed wires on your cables, and never use electrical tape to cover exposed wires.
- Equip your vehicle with proper safety goggles (always wear a pair of splash-proof polycarbonate goggles when jump-starting your battery. Your goggles should have a Z-87 label on the frame. This means your goggles are certified use during auto repairs), a flashlight, and a step-by-step guide for jump-starting a car battery. Prevent Blindness America offers a free battery jump start sticker in both English and Spanish on their website. The sticker can be placed under the engine hood or garage for future reference.
- Never smoke or use anything that may spark when working on your battery. Car batteries contain hydrogen and oxygen, two gasses that could ignite and explode.
- Don’t jump-start a frozen battery, allow the two vehicles or jumper cables to touch each other, or lean over the battery when making connections.
- Turn off lights, heater, and all other electronic loads before jump-starting. You should also set the brakes in park, make sure both cars’ batteries are the same voltage, and cover the vent caps of both batteries with a damp cloth.
- Connect one red (+) clamp to the positive (+) labeled post on the dead battery. Make sure there is a strong and secure connection to the post of the dead battery.
- Connect the other red (+) clamp to the positive (+) post on the good battery, again making sure the connection is secure.
- Connect the black (-) clamp to the negative (-) labeled post on the good battery.
- Connect the last black negative (-) clamp to a clean, solid, and unpainted metal surface in the engine of the dead car to ground the circuit. Do not connect the black (-) cable to the dead battery itself, but as far away from the dead battery as possible. Connecting the clamp onto the battery can cause an explosion.
- Start the car with the good engine and wait 2 to 3 minutes, then start the dead car.
- Once the dead car is started, you can remove the jumper cables while the cars are running making sure to not let the clamps touch each other or fall down into the engine. Remove the cables in reverse order: Black dead car, black working car, red working car, and finally red dead car.
- The car that had a dead battery should continue running for at least 30 minutes to let the battery recharge properly.
In the Event of a Battery Related Injury:
Stop what you are doing and seek medical attention right away. For detailed information on how to treat an eye injury before heading into the doctor or emergency room for medical attention, click here.
If you have experienced any of the dying battery signs listed above, it may be time to schedule an appointment at Virginia Auto Service located on 7th St. between McDowell & Thomas. We can inspect your vehicle’s battery, and let you know what the issue is. Plus, we are trained in the proper handling of car batteries and proper battery disposal. Give us a call, (602) 266-0200, or schedule an appointment online.