Jump-Starting Your Car Battery In A Hurry May Lead To Injury

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Winter may lead to car battery trouble for some, as cold weather greatly reduces the operating efficiency of batteries.

A motor vehicle's battery activates the starter and ignition system so the engine will turn over. They provide extra power when the alternator is not capable of meeting the needs of the vehicle and controls voltage bursts when the air conditioner or radio are turned on.

Battery failure rarely happens at a convenient time and jump-starting a battery in a rush can lead to injury.

To prevent an accident that could cause serious eye injuries, Prevent Blindness America recommends the following safety precautions when jump-starting, inspecting or testing the battery:

  • Protect your eyes with 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. Batteries contain hydrogen and oxygen: A spark could ignite them, causing the battery to explode.
  • Check the battery for damage, cracks, corrosive materials and loose wires, once a month.
  • Make sure your jumper cables are rust and corrosion-free with 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 produced by the battery.
  • When jump-starting, inspecting or testing your battery, never lean over the battery, even if you are wearing safety goggles. The battery could explode and damage your face and body.
  • Squeezing the battery casing may cause the sulfuric acid stored inside to spill through the vents. Use a battery carrier when available and always handle with extreme care.
  • Dispose of auto batteries properly. Some service stations and stores where batteries are sold will dispose of the old batteries for free or for a nominal charge.
  • Call a professional if you are uncertain or if you cannot remember how to jump-start your car correctly.

If an accident occurs and materials from the battery enter the eye, Prevent Blindness America recommends the following:

Chemical Burns

  • Flush the eye for at least 15 minutes. The affected eye should be held open and flushed with the first available drinkable liquid: Water, milk, juice or a soft drink.
  • After flushing the eye, seek immediate medical attention.

Do not cover or bandage the eye. The emergency room doctor will have to waste valuable time removing bandages.

  • Contact lens wearers should not attempt to remove their lens. Begin flushing the injured eye, allowing the liquid to dislodge the lens gently.

Cuts and Punctures to the Eye or Eyelid

  • Cover the eye lightly to protect it from dirt particles and see a doctor right away.
  • Do not flush the eye with any liquid.
  • Flushing may remove fluids that maintain the eye's structure and function.
  • Do not try to remove an object stuck in the eye. You could cause even worse damage to the eye.

Specks in the Eye

  • Lift the upper eyelid outward and down over the eyelid.
  • Let your tears wash out the speck or particle. If the speck does not wash out, keep the eye closed, bandage lightly and see a doctor as soon as possible.

To request a free How to Jump Start Your Battery sticker, call (800) 331-2020 or visit www.preventblindness.org.

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