What to do when your cellphone gets wet
There's nothing like a cool dip in the swimming pool on a hot summer day -- until you realize you have your phone with you.
This post comes from Brandon Ballenger at partner site Money Talks News.
Cellphones and water don't mix. People know this, yet the tragedy plays out regularly in a variety of scenarios. It could be a slip into the toilet, a tumble in the washing machine, a beer-based lack of judgment, or a thorough drenching in a hurricane.
It's sometimes possible to save your electronic lifeline, but Step One is avoiding panic, because there are several "fixes" that might seem to make sense, but could do more harm than good.
In the video below, Stacy Johnson -- who admits to dunking his own iPhone -- talks about what you can try to restore your soaked electronics. Check it out, then read on for more tips.
As Stacy suggested, buying a cheap backup phone that's compatible with your SIM card -- the chip that holds your phone's personal information -- is cheap insurance, and something to consider if your cellphone is your only link to the world.
In fact, it's cheaper and more reliable than actual cellphone insurance, which may leave you without a phone for days. (By the way, water damage is almost never covered under a standard warranty, and many phones have internal moisture sensors that will tell the truth even if you don't.) Cheap phones can cost under $50, and taking the backup with you on water-related outings instead of your regular phone can prevent a lot of stress.
If your phone does get wet, hopefully it's fresh water rather than salt. Reviving a dunked phone is already an iffy proposition; a full recovery from the corrosive effects of salt water is nothing short of miraculous.
But whatever the watery encounter, here are the steps to take, starting with what not to do:
- Don't turn it on. You'll be tempted to see if the phone still works. Resist. Leave it off, or you may cause a short circuit. Do that and it's game over.
- No hair dryers. Blowing heat sounds smart, but there are two problems. First, the blown air may actually push droplets deeper inside the phone. Second, even on a low setting, a blow-dry may be too much heat for your phone to handle.
- No sun. People have dried their laundry this way for centuries, but it's not the way to dry a phone. Don't leave it sitting in direct sunlight. It could bake.
- No oven. This may sound crazy, but in researching this story we found people who actually tried it. Some even claim it worked, but we really don't recommend it. Especially if the battery is carelessly left in, it could explode. Same deal with microwaves, which you should keep metal out of anyway.
The smart approach to saving your phone is admittedly a little weird. It's the one Stacy described in the video, and involves rice. Rice is a natural desiccant, or water absorber (like those little "do not eat" packets filled with silica gel beads). Here's how the dry-out process works:
- Turn the phone off. If possible, immediately power down the device. Water-damaged phones can act a little weird and may freeze up or keep cycling on and off. You want it to stay off, with no electrical activity, to protect the circuitry. If you have access to the battery, carefully remove it along with your SIM card. (You may be able to save your contacts and data even if the phone is dead.)
- Grab a towel. With a paper towel or whatever you have handy, do your best to wipe off visible moisture on both phone and battery.
- Find some rice. You need uncooked rice and a sealed container. A large Ziploc bag will work, but a Tupperware container is best. Fill it up with rice, bury your phone, and then close it up. You'll want to leave it alone at least overnight, although some repair sites recommend leaving it for a day or more.
- Get a replacement while you wait. If a phone is vital and you don't already have a backup, head to the store with your SIM card and see if you can get a cheap one to keep communications up and running, and to help you avoid the temptation of trying your phone before it's fully dry.
- Check and recharge. Once the waiting period is up, retrieve your device, and after making sure there's no rice stuck inside, plug it in to charge and see what happens. Good luck.
Another idea to protect your phone is a waterproof case, which you can get for less than $20. They can be bulky, though, so a cheap backup phone may be a better solution.
More on Money Talks News and MSN Money:
I fell in lake with cell phone in my pocket my solution was i opened the back wiped it down and set it over my cable box not directly on the box but raise up so warm air could circulate after a day or more of this phone was working again and in few days the moisture spot the the screen dried out an phone has worked fine since this incident. I was lucky i guess!!!
Better solution: Purchase a water proof cell phone like the verizon/Casio GZone Boulder. Water proof down to 3 meters (that is 9.84 feet) if you are going to be around water very much. This phone is also shock and dust resistant. I have had mine for 2 years now. I have dropped it in the creek when I prospect for gold & fish (more than once), ran over it twice with my Dodge Ram 2500 4X4 and take it with me when I ride my ATV. Knock on wood; No problems at all. It is an ugly phone and doesn't do all the things a so called smart phone can do but it has a push to talk feature, a camera, and I can surf the web with it in addition to using it as a cell phone.
Of course the best bet is to simply not let your cell get wet beyond a little rain!
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