It’s the Christmas/Holiday season… things with batteries abound. Whether you’re buying something that came with pre-installed batteries, or breaking out last year’s battery powered holiday decorations, there are some things you should look out for.
If your item arrived with batteries, replace them ASAP. They’re cheap, and not as strong as “real” batteries. (Plus, if the item has a “try me” button, they’ve already been put through their paces.) If you don’t want to replace them (or it’s Christmas Eve and you TOTALLY forgot to buy some), at least take them out and inspect them for signs of leakage and/or corrosion.
Leakage/corrosion (usually with, but not limited to, older batteries) will appears as a clear liquid or a caked on crystalline looking powder*.
If they’ve leaked inside the item, use vinegar and q-tips to clean up the affected areas. When it makes contact, expect it to foam. Keep working the affected area until the “fizzing” stops.
If it looks like the metal areas that touch the battery have corroded or rusted, use something to scrub them down to restore a shiny metal surface. Try an Emery board, steel wool, pencil eraser… or a Dremel grinder if you’re *REALLY* motivated. (True story)
If you’re unable to fix the item, the larger battery manufactures offer warranties to replace or repair anything damaged by a defect in their batteries. (See below for a couple links)
Remember: this is bad stuff you’re dealing with. Flush immediately if it comes in contact with your skin… and don’t accidentally get it on your finger and rub your eye afterward… I have it on really good authority that it might hurt… a LOT.
Play safe out there, kids!
http://www.duracell.com/en-US/battery-care-disposal.jspx (DURACELL BATTERY GUARANTEE – Bottom of the page)
* White on the negative side is zinc hydroxide
Pink on the positive side is manganese III oxide
Green is likely copper oxide, and white stuff elsewhere may be oxides of other metals used.