Chatham Emergency Services Update
I recently corresponded with a resident whose fire/carbon monoxide alarm had been triggered on multiple occasions while charging his golf cart. Research on his part unearthed an article from Florida discussing the fact that charging golf cart batteries produces a small amount of hydrogen gas, and that this hydrogen gas can trigger carbon monoxide detectors. He then contacted The Landings Association and recommended that information on this subject be provided to Landings residents.
When an article I had written in The Landings Journal in 2019 on this subject was shared with him, the resident remarked that he and members of his golf group had missed this article when it was originally published. He suggested that we republish this information on a periodic basis in case it had been overlooked by other residents. As he suggested, this is a republication of my July 2019 article.
Golf Cart Charging Safety
Golf carts are an integral part of almost every Landings resident’s life. We are lucky enough to live in a community where you can take your golf cart to the grocery store or the drive-through teller at your bank. The downsides of golf cart ownership are some very real dangers connected to the batteries that power electric golf carts -- specifically, the production of explosive hydrogen gas during the charging process.
The operating manuals for most, if not all, electric golf carts warn of the formation of hydrogen gas during normal charging and state that the charging area needs to be ventilated. Old, as well as overcharged batteries, are susceptible to “off-gassing”, or the production of higher levels of hydrogen gas. A hydrogen gas concentration of 4% is explosive and can be ignited by a spark, flames such as pilot lights, or by something as small as static electricity. Turn off the golf cart ignition key before starting the battery charger. Always open a garage door or window while charging your cart, and keep ignition sources such as matches, lighters, and cigarettes away from the charging area. As the charger gets extremely hot during the charging process, keep all combustible material and flammable liquids a safe distance away.
Unplug the charger from the cart and wall after charging is complete. This is probably the most often overlooked step with the greatest potential for disaster. Most golf cart chargers will turn off automatically once the batteries are fully charged, but these systems have been known to fail. Chargers working improperly should be replaced immediately. Never charge a golf cart when you are not home to monitor the charging process.
Have your golf cart batteries regularly maintained by trained and authorized personnel. It is also suggested that you check your batteries monthly for signs of corrosion (greenish crusting on the terminals) or loose fittings. If your cart batteries are liquid filled, you should monitor and maintain the water level according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Many fire departments nationwide have experienced calls in which a carbon monoxide (CO) alarm was set off by a hydrogen gas buildup caused by an old or overcharged cart battery. The CO detector provided a warning of a life-threatening situation – just not the one the label. Even though hydrogen detectors are available, they will not detect carbon monoxide. For the sake of efficiency, it is possible to buy a combination smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector. We also recommend that you have a fire extinguisher mounted in the garage, as well one inside the house. A good location for an interior fire extinguisher is in the laundry room, especially if it is adjacent to the kitchen.
This article was originally published by The Landings Association on their website. Visit landings.org to read the original article. https://landings.org/news/2020/10/28/chatham-emergency-services-update