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Improper jump-starting can turn battery into bomb

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Many car owners don't know what their car batteries look like, much less how to jump-start one that has failed. But batteries can be dangerous.

All vehicle batteries contain sulfuric acid and produce hydrogen and oxygen gases. Improper jump-starting procedures can turn a battery into a bomb. If the gases are "sparked," the battery can explode, sending fragments and acid flying, according to Colleen Malouf, president and chief executive officer of "Friends for Sight."

Motorists need to take a few minutes to read their car owner's manual and familiarize themselves with the basic mechanics of their vehicles. Jump-starting a car wrong can actually "fry" the car's electrical system, as well as cause injury.

Every motorist should have an emergency jump-start kit that includes splash-proof safety goggles, jumper cables, a flashlight and instructions.

If battery acid splashes into the eye, it should be flushed instantly with the first "drinkable" liquid available: milk, water, juice or a soft drink. Every second counts, Malouf said. The group offers a free fact sheet with information about jump-starting a car. Call 801-524-2020.