So you have done all your research, spoken to boating buddies, read up reviews online, visited several stores in person and finally you have made your choice. Your new marine battery is finally home and you are all set to have her started off. You are looking forward to taking your boat out for happy trips. But wait! You know as well as any boater that one can never be too careful, so you have to do a few things (and not do a few others) to make it safer for your boat, yourself, and your surroundings.
- Electricity is a double edged sword if there was any. It can make so many things so convenient, but if it takes a wrong turn, it can burn away everything. So read up the instructions on your battery’s user manual very carefully and follow them to the T.
- Make sure the new marine battery is placed in a cool and dry place. OF course, when you take your boat out, it might not be possible to protect it completely from the salty air and spray, but the better you can protect your marine battery, the greater would be its longevity.
- Please do not flex your muscles and try to do all the heavy lifting by yourself. It is always recommended that a lifting team (of at least two!) do the shifting and movement of marine batteries, because they can grievous injury otherwise.
- If your marine battery is not the sealed type, then please make adequate arrangements for the gas and fumes to go out into the air instead of being cooped up in a closed space. That can be dangerous and even fatal.
- If you have come into contact with some acid vapors released from your vapor, you might feel giddy and nauseous, and have trouble breathing. Go into an open area which has fresh air, and lie down for some time, and try to take a few deep breaths.
- If you have come into contact with liquid discharges instead, then the skin needs to be immediately washed with a mild soap water solution. Use wash water for several rinses if the liquids come into contact with the eyes. That is why most boats keep a large container of water near the battery area, and you should follow that example as well.
- When the marine battery is not being used, you should keep it disconnected. Otherwise it would self discharge quickly.
- Please keep a close watch on your battery to ensure that it is never discharged more than 80%, and soon as your battery reaches close to (not breaches) that mark, take steps to recharge.
- Do not pinch pennies while purchasing spare charging terminals or wires or any other accessories. Remember your boat is only as safe as the most unsafe accessory in it, even if you have the best in class charging equipment otherwise.
- Cleanliness is paramount for safety when it comes to marine batteries. Be very careful of spillages on your deck which could lead to burns or someone slipping, and for the battery itself, there is a risk of short circuiting. For those who would be handling these batteries, the use of goggles, aprons and rubber gloves is a smart thing to do, because some of the electrolytes in marine batteries can cause severe burns, depending on the type of battery.
- Many batteries are sealed and are therefore designed to prevent spillage. But for such batteries it is a good idea to physically inspect from time to time, to ensure the sealed condition has indeed been maintained. For unsealed batteries, keep a close watch on escaping fumes or spilled liquids.
- Regular servicing of the battery might be a pain for your operations, especially if you are running a busy rig and have to keep her away from the seas for a day to allow the maintenance to happen. But it gives you a chance to get the marine battery back to top shape, and repair/replace any parts that you notice are broken down or worn out.
Always remember that a good marine battery is very necessary for smooth running of your operations, but unless you keep some basic handling and usage safety tips, you might end up with more hassles and expenses. As they say, better safe than sorry.