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Automotive Emergencies: Part 1

    We all know how important it is to have a basic knowledge of first aid in an emergency, but how many of you know first aid for an automotive emergency?
» Part 1: Automotive First Aid
» Part 2: Safety Rules
» Part 3: More Safety Rules
» Part 4: More Safety Rules

Safety Rules for Automobile Self-help

Okay, it's a given that when you work on your vehicle you are going to get grease on your hands and most likely break a fingernail. Along with this there is the risk involved with working on a car.

Common sense is the greatest tool in making an inspection and performing repairs. You need to know how to fix something before you try to fix something. Would you want your doctor to perform a heart bypass on you if he doesn't know how to do it?

Here are some common sense guidelines you should follow when you work on your vehicle. 

  1. Explosions and fires. Batteries emit hydrogen gas and gasoline fumes are extremely flammable. So don't smoke while working on the vehicle or even just opening the hood. Can you imagine what would happen if a high-pressure fuel leak hits you in the face while a cigarette is hanging from your lower lip? I'll wager it will ruin your whole day.


    Keep a small fire extinguisher rated for the combustable materials you'll be working with, handy when you're working on your vehicle, especially if you are working on the engine. 

  2. Poison gas. When I took NBC (Nuclear, Biological, Chemical) warfare training, the instructor gave us some sage words of advice. "When you see the gas cloud coming towards you, stop breathing and don your protective mask." The exhaust from your vehicle contains a high amount of carbon monoxide. This is an invisible, insidious gas that kills slowly.


    When you breathe it in, your red blood cells think it's oxygen and absorb it, effectively asphyxiating you. So if you are working on your car, do not run the engine in an enclosed space. If you start to feel tired or sleepy, get into the fresh air immediately. And if you are driving down the road and smell exhaust gas, open all the windows immediately. 

  3. Batteries contain sulfuric acid as well as emitting hydrogen gas. Both can cause a battery to explode if an ignition source is close by. Wear protective gloves, I use latex examination gloves, when you work on the battery and keep cigarettes and other sources of ignition well away.  


  4. Batteries have a lot of amps in them. They can give you shocks and cause a fire. If you are doing any work on the fuel system or fuel lines, disconnect the negative battery cable. The negative cable can be identified by the black color and large minus (-) on the battery case next to or near the negative terminal. Always disconnect the negative cable first.


    A technician I once worked with was taking off a positive cable when the wrench slipped and touched the negative terminal. Every single amp that battery had was trying to cross that wrench and actually welded his wedding ring to his finger. The doctors couldn't save either the wedding ring or his finger. 

  5. Jump-starting a vehicle can cause a voltage spike or spark creating a fire hazard. You need to connect the cables in the proper order. Connect the positive (+) terminal of the donor vehicle to the positive (+) terminal of the recipient vehicle. Then connect the negative (-) terminals to the frame or engine block before starting either vehicle.


    Make sure the keys are not in the ignitions of either vehicle since a voltage spike could severely damage electronic control units.

» Part 1       » Part 2       » Part 3       » Part 4
Additional Information provided courtesy of and Warranty Direct
© 2000-2007 Vincent T. Ciulla

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