It’s time for a battery check before winter comes

A battery check, you say? What fresh hell is this? Don’t we have enough to do in our busy lives?

Yes, a battery check.

A battery check is when you look at all the remotes, all the stuff that has batteries, and check to see if the batteries need replacing. Look at the device and see if it works, and then pop open the battery hatch and take a good look at the batteries. Do you see any swelling? Is there any white or slightly greenish powder at the edges?

Then, be prepared to replace batteries wherever you need to. This is no fun of course, but then again it’s no fun when you’re in the middle of an emergency and you pick up a dead flashlight.

Some things to look for

Many batteries today have dates on them. It’s an advertising campaign to say that they’ll be good in storage until at least that date. Take a look, and if this is a device you really might need in an emergency, replace the batteries if that date’s past. This is a good idea even if the batteries seem fine. They may be able to work for a short while but they could fail fast.

I’ve mentioned it before but if you see the slightest sign of swelling or white/greenish powder that battery has to come out. Wear latex gloves if you have them and wash your hands thoroughly. This stuff is really bad for you and it can burn you.

Don’t forget your emergency kit

If you’re lucky, you haven’t had to touch your emergency kit since you put it together a few years ago. Chances are the batteries in your emergency flashlight and radio aren’t as good as you thought. If you bought one of those pre-packaged kits it probably didn’t come with top-notch batteries anyway.

Oh, and smoke detectors

Here’s something that no one actually does: test their smoke detectors. You’re supposed to do it like once a week. I sincerely doubt there is a person on the planet who does this. But once a year, you could probably push the button just to test, right?

A lot of smoke detectors made in the last decade have sealed batteries that never need changing. I know I put one in in 2008, and just recently found that it had stopped working. What do you know, they were right about that whole 10 year thing. Good thing I didn’t really need the thing. And what’s funny is, they say those sealed smoke detectors are supposed to beep when they are at the end of life. I guess this one didn’t.

One last nag: don’t toss the old batteries

I’ve said this before on this blog: batteries are really, really bad for the environment. There are all sorts of metals that can pollute the earth and kill both plants and animals. Keep old batteries in a container until you have a chance to take them to be recycled. A lot of stores will accept them and depending where you live, some cities or states actually require you to recycle your batteries. Even if it’s not the law, it’s still an incredibly good idea.

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 6,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.