Being stranded during a thunderstorm on the side of the road is a pain for any driver, but add in some bored, crying kids to the mix, and you’ve got a nightmare brewing. Jumping a battery in dry weather is easy enough, provided you have the equipment, but is it safe to jump the battery in the pouring rain? It’s a reasonable question, after all, water and electricity don’t mix well.
In general, you can jump-start a car in the rain. Cars do not have enough voltage to cause deadly electrocution when jumped in a rainstorm. However, anytime you jump a car battery incorrectly, there is a risk for injuries to yourself and damage to the car. More caution must be exercised when starting cars in the rain.
The general rule for safe jump starting in the rain is to dry the battery and jumper cables as much as possible before following the “positive to positive negative to ground” application of the cables. Keep reading to discover helpful tips and more on how to jump a car in the rain safely.
- How to Jump-Start A Car (In The Rain)
- Do Not Leave The Hood Propped
- Dry The Battery And Cable Clamps Before Connecting
- Risks of Jump-Starting A Car
- Car Damage
- What Do You Need To Safely Jump-start A Car?
- Jumper Cables
- Live Vehicle Battery (or Portable Jump Starter)
- Eye Protection
- Hand Protection
- Flash-Light or Hanging Light
- Reflective Triangles
- How To Jump-Start A Car (In General)
- Step 1: Engage Emergency Brake & Take Safety Precautions
- Step 2: Find Help and Another Vehicle
- Step 3: Attach Positive Cables
- Step 4: Attach Negative Side
- Step 5: Let it Charge
- A Reminder About Jump-starting A Car In The Rain
How to Jump-Start A Car (In The Rain)
Jump-starting in the rain follows the same process as jump-starting a car in dry weather, except for two caveats.
Do Not Leave The Hood Propped
Moisture and batteries do not mix. What’s more, allowing rain to invade the car’s engine poses more danger to other parts of the vehicle. Keep the hood closed until you have found another car to help jump the car.
Dry The Battery And Cable Clamps Before Connecting
Before connecting the jumper cables to the batteries of the dead car and the live car, dry the batteries and jumper cable clamps. Wet batteries run the risk of conducting too much electricity, posing a hazard for the vehicle and yourself.
Risks of Jump-Starting A Car
Electrocution seldom occurs from jump-starting a vehicle. Car batteries simply don’t have the power to electrocute a person. Consider the power of a home’s electrical system: a home generally has 110-220 volt alternating current, a level capable of severely injuring a person.
A car’s battery, by comparison, only has 12 volts of direct current power. However, that doesn’t mean jumping a car is risk-free. Jump-starting a vehicle comes with a few risks when done improperly.
Plenty of people shock their fingers by improperly connecting jumper cables to a car. These aren’t severe injuries by any means, but they do hurt. You’re more likely to experience a mild zap from a battery if your hands are wet, so be sure to dry them before trying to jump a car.
According to the Sight and Hearing Association (SHA), nearly 6,000 motorists suffer eye injuries and blindness due to improperly jumping a vehicle’s battery. However, these injuries are not the result of electrocution.
Car batteries contain sulfuric acid, a highly corrosive substance cable of severely burning skin, teeth, and other bodily tissues. Batteries produce hydrogen gas, which can explode if a spark from jumper cables comes into contact with the gas.
A hydrogen gas explosion propels the corrosive sulfuric acid into the air and often into the eyes of the person attempting to jump the battery. The sulfuric acid exposure risks occur most often due to inexperience with jumping a car. If you are unsure of how to get the vehicle jump-started, have a roadside assistance service do it for you.
Improperly jumpstarting a vehicle can damage the car’s electrical components. Suppose a car’s battery receives too much of a charge during a jump, or you improperly connect to the live battery of your helper’s car.
In that case, the resulting current can fry the alternator or other electrical components of the vehicle. Damage to a car’s engine control unit is a costly mistake to repair, so any time you are unsure of how to jump a car, call a professional tow service or roadside assistance to handle it for you.
What Do You Need To Safely Jump-start A Car?
Jump-starting a car has three integral pieces required to jump the vehicle successfully; however, there are additional supplies you should have to ensure a safe and successful jump.
Obviously, without jumper cables, you can’t jump-start a car. Purchase a pair of 10 gauge or larger cables to ensure the longevity of the cables and promote a steady flow of electricity. Also, consider the length and insulation of the jumper cables before purchasing.
Cheaper cables tend to have less efficient insulation, adding more risk to their improper use. Owners of trucks or SUVs should purchase longer cables to make jumping easier.
Live Vehicle Battery (or Portable Jump Starter)
You need a working vehicle battery to jump-start a car. If need be, contact a towing service or roadside assistance to get a vehicle to you. In some cases, roadside service technicians may use a portable jump starter, also known as a battery pack, instead of a live car to jump the dead battery.
A battery pack is essentially a portable 12 v. battery that eliminates the need for an additional vehicle to jump a dead car battery. You can purchase these yourself to keep in the car emergency kit for jump-starting needs.
If you’re jumping the car yourself, wear eye protection. Keep a set of safety glasses in the car to wear whenever you are working near corrosive, explosive, or dangerous materials. A quality set of safety glasses may come with anti-fog coating, anti-scratch features, and other additions. Be sure to purchase safety glasses certified by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).
Any time you are working with a car’s engine, wear a set of mechanic gloves. Engines have all kinds of chemicals used in them, ranging from oil and wiper fluid to the battery’s sulfuric acid.
You’ll want to protect your hands from exposure to these chemicals, as well as the hard and sharp metal surfaces of the car’s engine and frame. Consider purchasing gloves rated for impact resistance that is water-tight, with metal or rubber built-in to reduce the risk of electrical shocks.
Flash-Light or Hanging Light
If you’re jump-starting a battery in a thunderstorm or at night, you may have a hard time seeing. Every car emergency kit should contain a flashlight or under-the-hood light for use in the dark.
Hanging lights are beneficial because they don’t need held or angled for you to get a clear view of your battery, but flashlights are less expensive.
Jump-starting a vehicle puts you at the mercy of other drivers. Turn your hazard lights on to increase your visibility and place some reflective triangles around your car.
The triangles will warn other drivers of your presence on the road and protect you from getting hit by another driver who could not see you.
How To Jump-Start A Car (In General)
Jump-starting a car is a simple enough process for any driver to follow. The general rule for jumper cable application is “positive to positive, negative to ground.” If you can remember that, you can safely jump a car.
Step 1: Engage Emergency Brake & Take Safety Precautions
If a car has died, chances are it was already parked. Turn on the hazard lights to warn other drivers of your presence. Provided your vehicle is in a safe place for a jump start (more on that later), engage the emergency brake and pop the hood of the engine to prepare for jump-starting. In dry weather, it is safe to leave the hood propped open as a call for help.
Step 2: Find Help and Another Vehicle
To jump-start a car, you need access to a working car’s battery. You’ll need to call a tow truck or flag down a passing vehicle for help jumping the battery. Often, having the hazards on will help you wave down help. Have your helper turn their car off until the jumper cables are safely attached.
Step 3: Attach Positive Cables
Before attaching the jumper cables, make sure they are unwound and free of any tangles to provide proper connectivity. Attach the red positive clamp to the positive terminal of the car’s battery. Continue by attaching the red positive clamp to your helper car’s positive terminal of the working battery.
Step 4: Attach Negative Side
Attach the black negative clamp to the negative terminal of the working car battery. Then, attach the other black negative clamp to the dead car’s metal (unpainted) surface. Turn on the helper car to initiate the jump.
Step 5: Let it Charge
Once the dead car has successfully jumped to life, do not turn off the engine. Turning off the engine post-jump runs the risk of killing the battery again. Detach the jumper cables, wave your helper on their way, and drive to the nearest mechanic for a battery inspection.
A Reminder About Jump-starting A Car In The Rain
Jump-starting a car in the rain is manageable and safe, provided you follow the proper steps. Don’t forget the order of operations for jump-starting a car safely: positive to positive, negative to ground.
Additionally, remember always to use safety equipment when jumping a car yourself. Keep in mind that jumping the car comes with risks, and any time you are concerned about the process, a roadside assistance service will happily do the jumping for you.
Disclaimer: The information provided above is for entertainment purposes only and should not be used as professional advice. Use at your own risk. When in doubt seek the help of a professional.