Check Your Batteries

Preparation is an ongoing process, and it's not a one-and-done task. It's more like taking care of your car, where you need to regularly check and make adjustments to ensure everything is in good working order.

Let's talk about batteries. Over time, batteries can lose their charge even if the devices they're in are not being used. The rate of energy loss depends on factors like the device type, temperature, and battery quality. In some cases, batteries can even start to break down and leak, causing a mess and potentially damaging your equipment. To avoid this, it's important to take preventive measures.

I've learned this the hard way with my battery-powered flashlights. I managed to save one of my collapsible Coleman LED lamps, but unfortunately, I lost both a single-cell AAA Maglite and a double-cell AA Maglite because the batteries had swollen so much that I couldn't even remove them. It was quite a disappointment! Now, I've made it a habit to check all my battery-powered devices at least twice a year (or even better, quarterly) to make sure the batteries are in good condition.

Regularly inspecting and maintaining your battery-powered devices is indeed a good practice. Here are some additional tips to ensure your batteries remain in good shape:

  • Store Them Properly - Keep batteries in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight and extreme temperatures. High temperatures can accelerate battery discharge and reduce their overall lifespan. Also, heat can cause lower-quality cells to leak...which brings us to the next tip.
  • Use Quality Cells - Opt for reputable brands and quality batteries that are less likely to leak or deteriorate quickly. Cheaper or generic batteries may not provide the same level of performance and durability. You don't want to find out our batteries won't work during the middle of an emergency after all.
  • Replace Expired Ones - Check the expiration date on the battery packaging and avoid using batteries past their expiration date. Expired batteries may have reduced capacity and could be more prone to leakage.
  • Remove Them From Devices During Long Periods of Inactivity - If you know you won't be using a device for an extended period, consider removing the batteries. This can help prevent potential leakage and extend the overall lifespan of the cells.
  • Clean the Contacts - Over time, dirt and residue can accumulate on the contacts in both the device and the batteries themselves. Use a clean cloth or cotton swab dipped in vinegar or lemon juice to gently clean the contacts and ensure good electrical connections.
  • Use Rechargeables When Possible - Rechargeable batteries can be a cost-effective and environmentally friendly option. However, they also require proper maintenance, such as regular charging and occasional deep discharge cycles, to keep them in optimal condition. Check your devices first though because not all of them can use rechargeable batteries.

By incorporating these practices into your routine, you can help prolong the life of your batteries and reduce the risk of issues like leakage. Remember to dispose of used batteries responsibly, following local regulations and recycling programs.