Explosive hydrogen….Acidic liquids and vapors….Electrical burns….Strains, sprains, hernias and compressed discs. All of these hazards arise when servicing, charging, or jumping the common lead-acid battery found in cars and trucks. Following a few common sense safety rules can minimize the hazards.
Eye Protection: First, always wear safety goggles and a face shield when working around a battery. Batteries contain corrosive acids that are capable of eating away metals. It takes just one droplet to cause serious eye damage. Just popping open the vent cap may throw out a droplet. A short or faulty regulator can cause the electrolyte to boil, releasing acid vapors. A fault within the battery could cause it to explode, throwing fragments of the case and acid.
Fire Protection: Lead-acid batteries produce flammable hydrogen gas while being charged. This highly explosive gas, generated within the cells, will expand and seep out of the vent caps. A cigarette or spark from any source could ignite the gas, causing the battery to explode. Always charge in a well-ventilated area. Remember too that the battery is receiving a charge and releasing hydrogen when the car is running, not just when hooked up to a battery charger.
Jump Starting: Dead batteries in cars and trucks are not uncommon, particularly in winter. The first thought is to get a jump-start. When jumping a battery, remember the following safeguards:
Protect Your Back: Batteries are heavy. If you must move one, use a battery strap as a handle, keep your back straight—don’t bend at the waist—and tighten your stomach muscles as you lift. Don’t twist your spine as you lift or move the battery.
Remember that these rules apply both on and off the job. The batteries in your own vehicle or on your boat are just as potentially dangerous. Respect the hazards and take no chances or short cuts!