At some point, most everyone who drives a car experiences a dead battery and needs to jump-start the battery. While this is a simple activity, it can be dangerous if certain precautions are not observed. Car batteries are lead-acid batteries that contain hydrogen-oxygen gases that can be explosive. These batteries also contain sulfuric acid that can cause severe burns. The good news is that you can prepare yourself to deal with car batteries with a few simple precautions that make a big difference. Stafford County Fire and Rescue has provided the tips below for staying safe when dealing with a car battery.
“On occasion, we see injuries from accidents involving car batteries. With a little preparation and knowledge, this can be a safe endeavor for everyone,” said Stafford County Fire and Rescue Chief Joseph Cardello.
First of all, consult your vehicle and battery owner’s manuals for instructions and safety precautions. Some cars have batteries in inaccessible places, like the fender panel or trunk, and may have special jumper connections in the engine compartment for jump-starting the vehicle. Make sure you know where your connections are located and make sure you understand the instructions for your jumper cables.
Next, wear some safety goggles or a face shield with proper clothing to protect your body. If, for any reason, you have contact with battery fluids, flush the area with water and call a physician immediately. Keep cigarettes, flames, sparks and other ignition sources away from the battery as they could cause an explosion.
Step-by-Step Jumper Cable Instructions
- Connect one end of the red jumper cable to the positive (+) post on the dead battery. Notice that the positive battery post will be slightly larger than the negative post.
- Connect the other end of the red jumper cable to the positive post on the good battery.
- Connect one end of the black jumper cable to the negative (-) post on the good battery.
- IMPORTANT – Do not make the final jumper connection to the negative post on the dead battery – it could cause sparks and explosions. Ground the remaining black jumper cable to a heavy metal part on the engine or a metal part of the frame.
- Start the vehicle with the good battery and run the engine at a fast idle for a couple of minutes.
- Start the vehicle with the dead battery. It should start unless there are other problems, like a bad starter or ignition issue.
- As soon as the engine starts, disconnect both jumper cables. IMPORTANT – Do not allow the metal ends of the jumper cables to touch each other or the red cables to unique anything metal.
- Keep the engine running for 20 to 30 minutes or drive the car around the charge the battery. Turn any lights, heater, air conditioning or electrical accessories off so all of the charging system’s output can go into the battery.