Battery safety

Taking safety precautions when handling batteries and battery acid is of utmost importance. See the below recommendations, and for more information, visit Battery Council International's consumer website.

 

  1. Danger of exploding batteries
  2. Safe charging
  3. Safe handling of battery acid
  4. Safe booster cable operation

SLI (Starting, Lighting, Ignition) batteries contain sulfuric acid and produce explosive mixtures of hydrogen and oxygen. Because self-discharge action generates hydrogen gas even when the battery is not in operation, make sure batteries are stored and worked on in a well ventilated area. ALWAYS wear ANSI Z87.1 (U.S. standard) approved safety glasses and face shield or splash proof goggles when working on or near batteries:

• Always wear proper eye, face and hand protection.

• Keep all sparks, flames and cigarettes away from the battery.

• Never try to open a battery with non-removable vents.

• Keep removable vents tight and level except when servicing electrolyte.

• Make sure work area is well ventilated.

• Never lean over battery while boosting, testing or charging.

• Exercise caution when working with metallic tools or conductors to prevent short circuits and sparks.

• Always read and follow all precautionary labels on the product.

Never attempt to charge a battery without first reviewing the instructions for the charger being used. In addition to the charger manufacturer’s instructions, these general precautions should be followed:

• Always wear proper eye, face and hand protection.

• Always charge batteries in a well-ventilated area.

• Keep vents tight and level.

• Turn the charger and timer “OFF” before connecting the leads to the battery to avoid dangerous sparks.

• Never try to charge a visibly damaged or frozen battery.

Connect the charger leads to the battery; red positive (+) lead to the positive (+) terminal and black negative (-) lead to the negative (-) terminal. If the battery is still in the vehicle, connect the negative lead to the engine block to serve as a ground. Be sure the ignition and all electrical accessories are turned off. (If the vehicle has a positive ground, connect the positive lead to the engine block.)

• Make sure that the charger leads to the battery are not broken, frayed or loose.

• Set the timer, turn the charger on and slowly increase the charging rate until the desired ampere value is reached.

• If the battery becomes hot, or if violent gassing or spewing of electrolyte occurs, reduce the charging rate or turn off the charger temporarily.

• Always turn the charger “OFF” before removing charger leads from the battery to avoid dangerous sparks.

• Always read and follow all precautionary labels on the product.

Battery acid, or electrolyte, is a solution of sulfuric acid and water that can destroy clothing and burn the skin. Use extreme caution when handling electrolyte and keep an acid neutralizing solution - such as baking soda or household ammonia mixed with water - readily available. When handling batteries:

• Always wear proper eye, face and hand protection.

• If the electrolyte is splashed into an eye, immediately force the eye open and flood it with clean, cool water for at least 15 minutes. Get prompt medical attention.

• If electrolyte is taken internally, drink large quantities of water or milk. DO NOT induce vomiting. Get prompt medical attention.

• Neutralize with baking soda any electrolyte that spills on a vehicle or in the work area. After neutralizing, rinse contaminated area clean with water.

To prepare electrolyte of a specific gravity, always pour the concentrated acid slowly into the water; DO NOT pour water into the acid. Always stir the water while adding small amounts of acid. If noticeable heat develops, allow the solution to cool before continuing to add acid.

Battery acid, or electrolyte, is a solution of sulfuric acid and water that can destroy clothing and burn the skin. Use extreme caution when handling electrolyte and keep an acid neutralizing solution—such as baking soda or household ammonia mixed with water—readily available. When handling battery acid:

Always wear proper eye, face and hand protection. If the electrolyte is splashed into an eye, immediately force the eye open and flood it with clean, cool water for at least 15 minutes. Get prompt medical attention. If electrolyte is taken internally, drink large quantities of water or milk. DO NOT induce vomiting. Call a physician immediately. Neutralize with baking soda any electrolyte that spills on a vehicle or in the work area. After neutralizing, rinse contaminated area clean with water.

To prepare electrolyte of a desired specific gravity, always pour the concentrated acid slowly into the water; DO NOT pour water into the acid. Always stir the water while adding small amounts of acid. If noticeable heat develops, allow the solution to cool before continuing to add acid.

If the battery won't start your car, you usually refer to it as "dead," even though that's not technically correct. A battery that's merely discharged — from leaving your headlights on or from a damaged alternator — can be recharged to its full capacity. But a battery that's at the end of its service life can't be recharged enough to restore it to a useful power level. Then it truly is dead, and must be replaced.

If the battery is discharged, not dead, you can jump-start it from another fully charged battery. About 30 minutes of driving should allow the alternator to charge your battery until you take it to a service station for a full charge. But if the alternator or another part of the electrical system in your car is damaged, they won't be able to recharge your battery. So if your battery keeps discharging, before you replace it, have your electrical system checked. What looks like a bad battery could be an electrical system problem. If you have a bad component in the electrical system, it will keep draining a new battery, and you'll be stranded again and again.

The following are tips for safe booster cable operation:

  • When jump-starting a vehicle, always wear proper eye protection and never lean over the battery.
  • Inspect both batteries before connecting booster cables. Do not jump-start a damaged battery.
  • Be sure vent caps are tight and level.
  • Make certain that the vehicles are not touching and both ignitiion switches are turned to the OFF position.
  • Refer to the vehicle owners' manual for other specific information.

To jump-start the battery:

1. Connect positive (+) booster cable to positive (+) terminal of discharged battery.
2. Connect other end of positive (+) cable to positive (+) terminal of assisting battery.
3. Connect negative (-) cable to negative (-) terminal of assisting battery.
4. MAKE FINAL CONNECTION OF NEGATIVE (-) CABLE TO ENGINE BLOCK OF STALLED VEHICLE, AWAY FROM BATTERY.
5. Start vehicle and remove cables in REVERSE order of connections.

Jump-start your car

Watch this video to learn how to safely jump start your car, and click on the "Safe booster cable operation" tab to your left for step-by-step instructions.