A few years ago while en route with a friend to a conference, we stopped to use the airport restroom. I heard a plop followed by an expletive. It’s not what you think. This isn’t a potty-mouth story. Nor is it a story about bathroom usage and bodily fluids.
She had an accident all right, but this wasn’t your typical restroom break. She had been carrying her cell phone in her back pocket and it dropped into the toilet. About a week ago, a PR rep I work with said his phone went for a short swim in the ocean.
We set rules for our kids, but let’s admit it. No matter how careful you are, sometimes accidents happen. Sometimes our phones inadvertently get wet.
Don’t panic. Don’t assume all is lost. Here are some tips for what to do when your phone gets wet.
Get It Out of the Water
This sounds kind of obvious but I cannot tell you how many people just panic and don’t immediately try to recover it. Maybe they’re in shock, but the sooner you get the phone out of the water, the better. The longer it remains submerged, the more likely there will be permanent damage. According to a recent US Cellular survey, 65% of people would rather live without a television than their smart phone. With so many amazing apps, the ability to stream TV and movies from your phone, and the intense functionality of our devices for taking photos, storing contacts, organizing our schedules and more, it only makes sense that people put such importance on their phone.
Don’t Push Buttons!
I know your first inclination is to see if it is still working and you start hitting buttons to activate it or reset it or whatever. Don’t. Whether it’s the on/off, the volume or whatever, by pressing those you’re allowing water to leach into places it wasn’t already.
Remove the Battery
If your device has a removable battery, open the phone and take it out. I know I said not to push the buttons, but since iPhone batteries cannot be removed, dry carefully then go ahead and power it down.
Remove your headphones and take off the case. Get your phone as naked as you can so you can dry it off. As helpful as a cell phone holder is for protecting the phone, it also can seal in some of the water causing more damage. Most important, remove the SIM card and dry it off. Even if the circuitry of your phone is ruined, sometimes the SIM card survives the swim and can retain important data.
Dry Your Phone
Be quick but don’t be careless. Take time to carefully wipe down your phone with a clean, soft cloth. Be cautious not to push any water into the cracks, ports or indentations of the phone. Compressed air is a great option for quickly blowing air out of crevices, but be careful not to push the water further in.
A few hours of a fan blowing air across the phones openings can help dry it out. Be sure to remove other excess water before doing this or you may end up blowing water into the phone.
Consult Your Wireless Carrier
You aren’t the first person to drop your phone in water and you won’t be the last. Chances are, every technician at the wireless carrier has some experience with a customer in your shoes. The customer service at U.S. Cellular has always been fantastic when we had questions or concerns so don’t be afraid to ask them for advice.
What not to do when your phone gets wet!
Heat is not your friend! I know I said to use a fan but that doesn’t mean use a hair dryer. For that matter, don’t use a microwave or oven to dry it off either. The heat can melt the delicate internal components of your phone.
What else can you do?
Utilize specialty products: Solutions like the Bheestie Bag or Dry-All are specifically designed to dry out wet mobile devices. I’ve known people to leave their phones in rice to absorb the moisture but these products are made for the same purpose.
Use Silica Gel packets. You know, the kind you find in your boxes of shoes and electronics. Manufacturers add those to the packaging to help absorb moisture. Put your device in an airtight container with those packets and let them do what they do best.
What to do BEFORE your phone gets wet:
Save your data. Whether you backup to the cloud, utilize a personal cloud device or a backup service, make sure your most important data is backed up somewhere. The most important step people can take, even before the phone gets wet, is to make sure important data, photos and contacts are backed up. If the phone is not recoverable, at least your important information and memories are saved.
And if you’re prone to accidents, consider insuring your device. U.S. Cellular offers Device Protection+, which not only replaces a water-damaged phone, but also comes with tools to back up your data and protect against malware.
We’ve come to rely on our phones for everything from communications, grocery lists and camera functions to exercise and activities like Pokemon Go. If something happens to your phone and it gets wet, don’t panic. Just work through it to mitigate damages as much as possible.
What would you miss most if you damaged your phone?