The Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District released a public service announcement with data suggesting that 75 percent of people admit to having used their phones in the bathroom. What's worse, 19 percent of those surveyed admitted they've dropped their phones in the toilet. I'm not sure why the sewer agency was curious about this matter, but the facts did come to my mind when this letter washed up on my desk:
DEAR MARY: A week ago, I dropped my smartphone in the toilet. I tried to rescue it, but I had to get a new phone. The salesman said that someone comes to the store every day with the same problem. Now I'm wondering if there is some kind of waterproof case I can get to protect my phone in case this happens again. Also, how do you fix a wet phone? My method (I immediately wiped it off, took it apart and stuck it in a bag of rice) didn't work. — Bev
DEAR BEV: There are steps you can take to try to rescue a waterlogged mobile phone, but there are no guarantees.
Generally, you should get the phone out of the water and turn it off immediately. Lay it on a soft cloth or paper towels. Unless it's an iPhone, quickly remove the battery cover and battery. Next, remove the SIM card (if your phone has one). Do not take the phone apart beyond that. Instead, carefully dry it off with that soft cloth, removing as much water as possible from every little port and opening. For non-iPhones, cleaning the inside with rubbing alcohol will displace the water, which could remedy the problem.
Do not use a hair dryer to try to dry the phone. That will only drive moisture inside the crevices and intricate parts of the phone. Put the phone into a substance that has the ability to draw out moisture, like desiccant. Or if you have a packet of silica gel, put the phone and that packet into a zip-type bag and close it. If you don't have either of these materials, submerge the soggy phone in a bag of uncooked rice and leave it overnight. Or lay the phone on an absorbent towel and set it in a sunny place to dry out completely. Test it after 24 hours, or when the phone appears to be completely dry. Good luck!
LifeProof makes a waterproof case for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus (for around $40 on Amazon). The case has gotten hundreds of positive reviews. LifeProof also makes cases for other iPhone makes and models, as well as Samsung, LG and Motorola phones.
For a specific water activity, like a boating or fishing outing, a JOTO Universal Waterproof Dry Bag (about $8) will keep your phone completely dry, even if submerged for an extended period of time.
Now, all that being said, to make sure this doesn't happen again at home, I suggest installing some kind of handy shelf or designating a specific place in the bathroom to act as a clear reminder to Place Phone Here. Make sure you put your phone there every time — the first thing you do before anything else. Force yourself to do this, and in just a short amount of time, it will become a habit.
As for when you're at work or out and about, create another habit: Put your phone away before you go into a restroom. Give it a rest during your bathroom break.
Mary invites questions, comments and tips at [email protected], or c/o Everyday Cheapskate, 12340 Seal Beach Blvd., Suite B-416, Seal Beach, CA 90740. This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of www.DebtProofLiving.com, a personal finance member website and the author of "Debt-Proof Living," released in 2014. To find out more about Mary and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
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