Carson, CA – October 15, 2013 – Download PDF Version According to Prevent Blindness America1, each year auto batteries cause roughly 6,000 eye injuries, including cuts to the eye from flying battery fragments. There’s also the risk of skin burns, hand injuries, and other related injuries from improper use of car batteries and jump starting. And, according to The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration2, the types of risks and injuries related to batteries include explosions, chemical burns and/or contamination resulting from contact with battery acid, and muscle strains and/or crush type injuries with lifting or dropping the battery; and electric shock from contacting battery and/or posts.
Jumpstarting a vehicle and replacing a battery are among the easier DIY jobs and many car owners do these jobs themselves, but they can also be one of the most risky so understanding safety precautions is critical for those who plan to DIY any battery job.
The experts at AutoMD.com have created this Auto Battery Tips and Resource Guide to provide easy-to-follow, all-in-one place safety tips for jump-starting and replacing an auto battery, as well as for the disposal and recycling of auto batteries.
As with all repairs, be sure to consult your vehicle owner’s manual before doing any DIY work on your vehicle.
Safety Tips When Jump Starting a Battery
Only Attempt It If You Know What You Are Doing--This is a relatively easy job for those who know how to do it, but if you have never done it before or are unsure how to do it, leave it to the experts and call roadside towing.
Check Your Vehicle Owner’s Manual--Most vehicle owner’s manuals have step by step instructions to jump start your vehicle and to help you locate your battery.
Keep all Sparks and Open Flames (Smoking) Away from the Battery--All vehicle batteries contain sulfuric acid and produce hydrogen and oxygen gases. If the hydrogen gas comes into contact with a spark, the battery can explode, sending pieces of the battery and acid flying. Pieces of the battery can cut into the eye, while the sulfuric acid can severely burn the delicate eye tissue.
Always Wear Eye Protection--Wearing protective glasses/goggles is a good rule of thumb when doing any auto repair job, but especially for battery replacement and even for jumping, for the reasons stated above.
Make Sure Your Jumper Cables are in Good Condition--Motorists should own a pair of jumper cables tested and approved by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE). Jumper cables that are not in good condition can actually be dangerous to the person jump-starting the car. Damaged cables may produce sparks, which can lead to battery explosion. Purchase cables that are at least 12-feet long and color coded.
Do Not Jump Start a Frozen Battery (i.e., when the weather is extremely cold)--If you believe the battery is frozen, warm it up before charging. A fully discharged battery will freeze quickly when the temperature falls below freezing because a discharged battery turns acid into water. In this case, remove the battery from the car and take it inside for a couple of hours before starting to charge it. It is unlikely that the battery is frozen solid, so in an hour or so, it should be ready for a slow charge. By warming it gently first, you avoid the risk of cracking the battery.
Turn the Ignition Key and All Electrical Accessories Off for BOTH Vehicles--Before you connect the jumper cables to both vehicles, make sure everything is turned off and both vehicles are in park. Be sure to unplug anything charging in the cigarette lighter. Accessories plugged into the lighter could be draining your power and could be damaged by power surges when you jump the vehicle.
Make Sure the Red and Black Cables Do Not Touch When Connecting Them to the Batteries--Never touch the red and black cables to each other as they could spark and cause injuries. Always connect red to the positive battery terminal and black to the negative battery terminal and engine block. If connected improperly, a short circuit will occur and damage to electrical components may happen.
How to Jump Start Your Battery
Always consult your vehicle owner’s manual for specific instructions before you attempt to jump start your battery. Eye protection must be worn.
Safety Tips When Replacing a Battery
How to Replace a Battery
Installing a battery is not a difficult DIY job and can save a trip to the dealership or the repair shop, which also could mean saving significant dollars.
Other Battery Installation Tips
Battery Disposal Safety Tips
Protection - Wear leather or protective disposable gloves and safety glasses when handling batteries.
Transport upright - For those transporting old batteries for recycling, keep batteries upright and place them in a sturdy box or plastic container. Plastic containers for car batteries can be purchased at local home repair and auto parts centers.
Beware of leaks - If the battery case is cracked or leaking, be especially careful to choose a leak-proof container.
No smoking - Do not smoke near a battery and do not expose the battery to an open flame (such as using a match or lighter).
Keep it stable - Make certain the battery will not shift or tip over while your vehicle is in motion.
Wash hands after disposal - Wash your hands thoroughly with warm water and soap afterwards, (and even if you wear gloves as an extra precaution).
A battery's toxic lead and acid can easily be recycled, and most retailers will dispose of the old one for you. When buying a new battery, you might pay a charge that's refunded if you bring in the old battery after installing the new one.