9V Battery Precautions


Nine-volt batteries are rectangular in shape, and have a positive and negative terminal at one end, which snap securely into a connector found on any object requiring a 9-volt battery. This commonly includes smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and transistor radios. Nine-volt batteries are also often used as a back-up source of power for alarm clocks in case of electrical power failure.

Short Circuiting

  • Anything that causes a 9-volt battery to short circuit can rapidly drain its power. This includes having a piece of metal, such as a coin, up against both the positive and negative terminal of the battery. A short circuit can also be caused by connecting two 9-volt batteries directly together, which could produce enough heat to start a fire. A steel wool scrubbing pad touching the terminals of a 9-volt battery can easily cause a fire.

    To avoid this hazard, keep your batteries stored safely in one place in your home, and keep them separate from other metal objects. Do not allow the terminal ends of 9-volt batteries to touch the terminal ends of other 9-volt batteries. Do not throw away batteries in your household trash, where they can come into contact with other batteries or stray pieces of metal. Earth911.com can direct you to battery recycling facilities in your area.

Chemical Contents

  • The chemical contents of alkaline batteries generally include zinc, potassium hydroxide, manganese dioxide and graphite. Lithium batteries may contain manganese dioxide, lithium metal, propylene carbonate, dioxolane and lithium hexafluoroarsenate.

    Nine-volt batteries are hermetically-sealed, but if they are burned in a fire, damaged, mixed with another battery type, taken apart, inserted backwards, or if you attempt to recharge a nonrechargeable battery, they can leak or explode and cause chemical burns. If the contents come into contact with skin or eyes, you should flush the area immediately with clean, cool water. If the contents are inhaled and cause respiratory irritation, get outside to breathe fresh air as quickly as possible. If the contents are ingested, seek medical attention immediately — do not attempt to induce vomiting.

Replacing Batteries in Alarms

  • In a smoke or carbon monoxide detector, you should replace the 9-volt batteries at least once per year. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends making battery changing a yearly ritual coinciding with Daylight Savings Time. When you turn your clocks an hour ahead in the spring or an hour back in the fall, this is a good time to replace all the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

    Lithium batteries can last up to 10 years but should be tested regularly. All alarms should be tested on a monthly basis to ensure they are in working order.

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