Smartphone in the Pool? Here’s What to Do


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If you accidentally drop your phone in water, take these steps. But if you're particularly accident-prone, you might want to buy a new waterproof phone.

Last summer friends of mine bought a new house – with a pool. Since those are surprisingly uncommon where I live in Louisiana, we were always in the backyard that summer.

Then one day, disaster struck. The owner didn’t know the golden rule: “Never toss a fully clothed person in the pool.” I went in, clothes and all, with my Android in my pocket.

I panicked. One friend shouted, “Turn it on to see if it still works!” but another friend chimed in, “No, wait! Let’s look up what we should do.” I went with Plan B and saved my phone.

Money Talks News founder Stacy Johnson did a video two years ago explaining the steps. Check it out, then read on for more details and for information about waterproof phones.

What to do

  1. Turn your phone off. Power the device down (if it’s still on) and leave it that way.
  2. Remove the battery. Carefully pop off the cover and take the battery out.
  3. Remove the cards. Remove the SIM card and the microSD card. These are usually located behind the battery or in a separate slot on the side of the phone. If you have a CDMA device or a basic handset, you might not have either card installed and can skip this step.
  4. Grab a towel. Acting quickly, blot dry your phone with a towel (paper towels or whatever you can find will work too). Use an up and down blotting motion rather than wiping the device off. Wiping or tugging can cause damage. Next, wipe down the battery, SIM card and microSD card.
  5. Break out the rice and Tupperware. It sounds strange, but dry rice will absorb any remaining moisture on your phone. Fill a Tupperware or other resealable plastic dish with rice, submerge your phone and battery, and seal the lid. Leave your phone inside overnight or up to 24 hours.
  6. Get a replacement. If you can’t wait a day to use your cellphone, head to your provider’s retail store and ask for a temporary replacement. Many providers carry cheap replacement devices for customers. For example, T-Mobile loaned me a basic candy bar phone for 24 hours free of charge.
  7. Test your device. When the time’s up, take out your phone, shake off any excess rice, install the battery, SIM card and microSD card, and try to power the device back up. Good luck!

What not to do

Be careful not to do anything listed below. You could ruin your phone or injure yourself.

  • Don’t power on. It’s tempting to turn your phone on or try to use it to see if it will still work, but powering the device up wet could cause it to short out and you’ll lose your phone forever
  • Don’t use a hair dryer. It sounds crazy now, but in my desperation this seemed like a good idea at first. Cellphones can’t handle high heat, so resist the temptation to “power dry” with a blow dryer.
  • Don’t use the microwave. Speaking of crazy, don’t put your cellphone in the microwave. In fact, don’t put anything but food and microwave-safe dishes in the microwave.
  • Avoid the sun. Also avoid the temptation to leave the rice and cellphone mixture outside, thinking it will dry out faster. You might find your phone melted into the rice.

Making your phone waterproof

If you spend a lot of time on the water, or at least near it, you might consider a waterproof cellphone. Yes, a waterproof one. Sony recently released the Xperia. In addition to having all kinds of cool features like a 720 HD display and a 13 megapixel camera, you can also submerge the smartphone in water for up to 30 minutes.

If you’re not in the market for a new phone, you can buy a waterproof case for your existing one. Mashable has a list of 10 worth considering.

Water and your insurance

Finally, keep in mind that if your phone ends up in the toilet bowl or the lake, you won’t be able to order a replacement through your insurance. Wireless insurance companies won’t cover water damage, and they’ll be able to tell. Your phone has a small white sticker beneath the battery. When water hits the sticker, it turns red, a dead giveaway.

Stacy Johnson

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