Your fingers slip and your phone goes splat! Your smartphone falls into the salty water, or maybe just a few inches. Both scenarios can be disastrous, so here are some things you should do.
The first step is to try to find it
If you are not in an emergency situation, it is best to locate the phone as soon as possible and to get it out of water. You can try these ideas to locate your phone: Feel the phone under water with your feet or use a fishing net to scoop up any sand until it is visible.
You should consider the phone lost if you are unable to locate it. Tell your mobile carrier about the situation and ask them for a new phone number. Remote management tools such as “Find My” within the Apple ecosystem allow you to report your device lost or stolen, remotely deactivate it, and remove it from your account. You can restore data to an older device using local or cloud backups for Android and iPhone.
Turn it off, dry your phone as much as you can
After your phone has been removed from the water, turn it off completely. To dry your phone as much as possible, use a towel. If the SIM card tray and any memory card tray are not included in the phone, take them out. It should be removed from any case that isn’t waterproof.
If your smartphone has a waterproof case (or features water resistance) and was not in the water very long, turn it off. Rinse the phone under fresh water, but not salt water. After drying it with a towel let it dry for several hours before you try to use it again. You should be able to use it again if everything goes well.
You may have heard that rice can dry your phone if it is not water-resistant. Rice won’t do anything, and saltwater will corrode your phone even more if it sits there. You have to take the phone apart and clean it before the corrosion causes permanent damage to the internal circuitry.
Take your phone apart if possible
You should feel competent and capable of disassembling your phone. iFixit offers free guides with detailed instructions on how to disassemble most popular smartphones models.
After the phone has been opened, wash it thoroughly with distilled and then scrub the inside with a soft brush. Next, soak the phone in 90% rubbing alcohol for one hour. Then, gently swirl the phone around to remove any water trapped. Let the parts dry for at most 24 hours. Then, reassemble the parts and check if it works. You’re good to go. In the unlikely event that it fails again due to uncorrected water damage, make sure you have a backup copy of your device.
If you don’t like it, take it to a professional
The steps of disassembly require technical knowledge and the necessary tools and parts to open modern smartphones safely. If you aren’t comfortable taking apart your smartphone, get it to a professional repair shop as soon as possible. You can tell them that your phone was dropped in salt water and they will know the best way to fix it. If you wish to save your phone, it will need to be immediately disassembled and thoroughly cleaned inside and outside.
If they don’t want to fix it immediately and the phone is extremely important, you can take the phone elsewhere. You could make an appointment to see an Apple Store if you own an iPhone.
A penny of prevention
It is believed that Benjamin Franklin once stated, “An ounce prevention is worth a penny cure.” This means that if you take small steps before trouble happens, you can avoid a bigger crisis later.
Your best defense is to leave your smartphone on dry ground when you are near water. You could, however, place your smartphone in a waterproof bag or case before you go to the ocean.