What to do When Your Smartphone Falls into the Water

 October 11, 2017

Kerplunk! That may be the most dreaded sound a smartphone user can ever hear. If your phone has ever dropped in water, you know exactly what I mean. Here are a few survival tips to use when your smartphone decides to unexpectedly take a bath.

Step 1: Get it out of the water ‚ÄĒ and fast: The faster you remove your smartphone from the water, the better. The longer it‚Äôs in contact with water, the more likely it is to never recover. Be sure to stay safe while you do it ‚ÄĒ be mindful of whether the water is connected to any electric power supply.¬†

Step 2: Turn it off: Power down your smartphone completely as quickly as you can. If you have an iPhone, hold down both the lock and home buttons for five seconds to create a ‚Äúhard shut down.‚ÄĚ The fastest solution for Android phone users is to simply remove the battery as quickly as possible. Keep it powered off and do not turn it back on.

Step 3: Pat it dry: To prevent further corrosion, a short circuit or additional damage, take off any phone case, remove any headphones, remove the SIM card if one is installed, and for Android phones, remove the back and battery. Gently pat dry the components with an absorbent cloth and tap the phone gently against your hand with the lightning connector facing down to drain the fluid. Don’t blow on the phone as this pushes water further inside, and don’t insert anything into the openings. Clean off all water outside and gently drain any excess water inside your phone through any openings. 

Step 4 (optional): Did it fall in dirty water or salt water? Rinse it out: If salt or dirty water are involved, you need to rinse out the phone to remove chemicals and impurities. Rinsing with high-concentration isopropyl alcohol will remove the impurities while helping to dry it out. You can also try distilled water to clean out possible contaminants. Don’t use tap water as it has minerals that can cause further damage. If you must rinse, remember to keep the battery, SIM card and any other removable parts off. 

Step 5: Dry it out and wait: If you have an iPhone, opening it up and putting it back together is well beyond the skill level of most folks. Patience is a key factor in drying out your phone. Expert testing says that open air-drying your smartphone is the safest method. Leaving your phone in open air where there is an open space with good circulation such as a countertop, will dry your phone out faster. Adding a small fan could help accelerate things, and some folks have found success leaving the phone on an air conditioner vent; do not leave the phone on a heater vent, though, as too much heat could cause damage.

Step 6: Fully charge it and then power it on: After you let your phone dry out for 48 hours, it’s time to fully charge your phone and then try to power it on. If it works, congratulations, but keep an eye on it as you may find that it may not perform 100 percent like it used to.
Unfortunately, your battery may be destroyed. If your phone does not work after you dry it out for two days, you can take a gamble after and try to replace the battery ‚ÄĒ which is easier to do with Android phones ‚ÄĒ and see if that fixes the problem.¬†

More pieces of advice: When your phone falls in water, keep in mind this list of ‚Äúdon‚Äôts‚ÄĚ:¬†

  • Don‚Äôt try to turn it on right away.
  • Don‚Äôt try pressing buttons or keys unless you are trying to power it off.
  • Don‚Äôt try to blow dry it and never put it in a microwave or oven.
  • Don‚Äôt shake, tap or bang your phone.

Instead, the key is to react fast and get it out of the water, wipe it off gently to get the water out and have patience to let it dry fully. Contact your cell carrier quickly to have your calls forwarded so you won’t miss a beat!

This contributing article is from the Tech Helpline, a service of the WRA, and is authored by Kevin Hawkins, an award-winning freelance writer on real estate and technology topics.

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