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Safety Tips | Electrical safety

Battery basics

February 1, 2010

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Jump-starting, testing or inspecting a vehicle battery without taking proper safety precautions could lead to a serious eye injury, warns Chicago-based Prevent Blindness America. To prevent such an accident, the organization recommends:

  • Protect your eyes by using ANSI Z-87.1 splash-proof safety goggles when working on or near a battery.
  • Never work on a battery near an open flame, such as a match, lighter or cigarette. Because batteries contain hydrogen and oxygen, a spark could ignite them, causing an explosion.
  • Check the battery for damage, including cracks, corrosive materials and loose wires, at least once a month.
  • Make sure your jumper cables are free from rust and corrosion, and have no exposed wires. Cables repaired with electrical tape are unsafe.
  • Do not drop metallic objects on a battery, as a spark can ignite the gases.
  • Never lean over the battery when jump-starting, testing or inspecting, even if you are wearing safety goggles.
  • Squeezing the battery may cause the sulfuric acid stored inside the battery to spill through the vents. Always handle a battery with care, using a battery carrier when available.
  • Dispose of auto batteries properly. Some service stations will dispose of old batteries for a nominal fee.

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