WARNING – A car battery can be very dangerous if handled improperly.
If you have ever tried to jump start a car, or had any type of metal touch your car battery posts, you know that it can be pretty scary. You will see sparks, and that can lead to something very dangerous. I decided to write a post on this subject because one of my buddies was sitting on top of a car battery a few days ago. I immediately told him to get off, and he looked at me like “Whats the big deal?”
My buddy Ezzy proceeded to tell me that a car battery cannot harm you. As someone who has seen unprotected batteries catch on fire in peoples pockets when together with coins (This was pretty common when Vaping first started becoming a trend), I couldnt believe what Ezzy was saying to me. Then he goes to the warehouse, grabs a brand new fully charged battery, and grabs the positive and negative posts!
I was just about ready to jump kick him off of the battery posts, and call an ambulance……but to my surprise nothing happened. I froze for a few seconds, and then proceeded to start searching on Google. Google confirmed the fact that you actually can touch the posts on a car battery and you won’t get shocked! All the old spy movies where they used this as a method of torture were wrong!
When 12 Volt Electrical Systems Actually Can Shock You
Although you can’t be electrocuted by simply touching the terminals of a regular car battery, due to the low voltage, you can receive a nasty shock from other components of a traditional automotive electrical system.
For instance, in ignition systems that use a cap and rotor, an ignition coil is used to provide the tremendous amount of voltage that’s required to push a spark across the air gap of a spark plug. If you run afoul of that voltage, typically by touching a spark plug wire or coil wire with frayed insulation, while also touching ground, you will definitely feel a bite.
The reason that you can be shocked by touching a worn spark plug wire, while touching the battery terminals won’t do anything, is that the voltage pumped out by the ignition coil is high enough to push through the contact resistance of your skin.
Getting zapped like this probably still won’t kill you, but it’s still a good idea to steer clear anyway, especially if you’re dealing with the higher voltage of a distributorless ignition system.
I also found this from the Denver Post
Dear Tom and Ray: I am a junior in high school. In my physics class, the teacher claimed you could be electrocuted by touching a car’s battery terminals. I laughed and said I know from experience there is no way you could die from a car battery. She said I must have been lucky. It makes me mad, because everyone believes her because she’s the teacher. I asked my dad, and he said maybe it would make your heart flutter if you touched both terminals to your chest while pouring water over yourself. Who’s right?
Tom: You and your dad are right. While a car battery has enough amperage (electrical power) to kill you, it doesn’t have enough voltage (electrical force – to push the electrons through your body). Your body is just not conductive enough to be fried by 12 volts.
Ray: If you were made of metal, 12 volts would crisp your circuits.
Tom: The danger from car batteries is not so much electrocution as it is explosion. If you touch both terminals with a metal wrench, for instance, you can create a spark that can ignite hydrogen gas in the battery. That can send pieces of battery and acid flying.
So to conclude my findings on this issue……YES you can touch the posts of a battery without getting shocked, however you MUST be cautious whenever you are handling Car or any type of batteries. D.I =)