Consumer Electronics & Appliance News, Reviews & Information.

Jun 12

Phones and water don’t mix

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When I go trout fishing, and trust me, there are a lot of options for trout in the rivers of Missoula, you really learn things on the water. During summer, one of the the things I quickly learned is that wearing waders, which are essentially waterproof pants, is a very hot thing to do. And I’m not the only one. There are companies who build sandals for river wading, with felt soles for grip and a sturdy upper for support. So from mid June through the end of September, I don’t wear waders, just a pair of shorts and wading sandals.

This is the life. Picture used with permission from Blackfoot River Outfitters

I can’t think of a more comfortable way to fly fish. Easy walking, easy to get into (the description of a man struggling into waders is “like putting a hippo into a pair of stretch jeans”), and then you’re comfortable in the heat, which is great. And, unlike waders, your shorts have pockets, so you can store things for quick access, like fly floatant and spools of monofilament. Another advantage to this system? When (not if, but when) you fall in the river, your waders don’t fill with water, because you’re not wearing any! It’s just like swimming. And there is no way to wade in over your waders — again, because you’re not wearing them. Pockets, easy on, no leaks and maximum comfort. Where’s the problem?

Not if, but when. Image by Bugeaters, used under Creative Commons.

For me, the problem is the pockets. The nondescript phone in the photo that leads off this blog has been dunked three times (And remember, this phone is only 2 years old. There have been other phones), and fallen off the roof of a car once. OK, I got lucky with the car/roof thing. But when I have my phone with me as I go fishing, I’ve been known to stick it in my pocket, and next thing, I’m waist deep in the river. Whoops. That is the classic dunking, when you simply forget the phone is in your pocket. There is, however, ¬†another way I personally know how to dunk a phone. This is when you remember you have the phone, take precautions, and still manage to dunk it (The phrase, not if, but when, is appropriate here). Let’s deal with the second situation first.

Here is the on/off switch. Familiarize yourself this with this concept.

If you know the phone is going to the water, for photos, or simply to stay in touch, the first move is to turn it off, and only turn it on when you’re using it. This is especially true with Camcorders, because as a fisherman I’ve learned that if a camcorder hits the water and is turned on, nothing will save it. So turn ‘em off when you’re not using them. If the device is turned off, it has a much better rate of survival.

If, in the classic scenario, your phone takes a surprise dunking, the first thing to do is take the battery out. With the battery out, there is much less chance of short circuiting, etc through your phone. So separate the battery from the phone. And now the procedure is the same for phone rescue in both scenarios.

Take your pick, as long as it's uncooked. Image by Laraloola, used under Creative Commons

Take the phone and the battery home, fill an airtight container with uncooked rice (white or brown, your choice), place the phone inside (the battery is fine, it’s a sealed component, and doesn’t need to be more than towel dried) and let your phone sit in the rice for about a day. Out west, where there is little humidity, that usually does the trick. High humidity electronics dunkers may need to change the rice out once, or even twice, to make sure the moisture is really out of the phone. I’ve dunked a phone in Pennsylvania, and that is a one rice change climate. I have a feeling that Florida and Louisiana are in two rice change territory. Make sure your phone is completely dry, and put it back together. Say a few words to whatever deity, god, goddess or omnipotent power you feel strongly about, and turn on your phone. Best case scenario, on goes the phone. Worst case scenario, enforced upgrade. But you will have done everything you can do to resurrect the phone.

Water always finds a way in or out. Image by JustTooLazy, used under Creative Commons

Now a couple of words on prevention. Water is one of the most insidious materials on this earth. It gets every where, seeping, leaking, dribbling and finding every crack, crevice and seam that you have. I know a lot of people who take to the water with their camera in a Zip-loc bag, and place their trust in that. If you do, make sure you change out bags regularly every 2 trips. A folded Zip-loc tends to develop holes, and water will surely find a way in there. And then stay there. There is nothing worse than assuming a container is water-proof, and then finding out it’s not. Because a previously waterproof bag will let water in, and not really let it out. So you leave your phone or camcorder on while it’s in the bag, because you think it’s safe, water gets in, and ZZZZPPHHTT, fried. So if you are using a dry bag, make sure it’s a dry, dry bag.

As a fisherman, I have small tolerance for phones on the water. You’re supposed to be out there to get away from things, not bring them with you. But I do need a camera to take pictures of the multiple, huge fish I am always catching (Yes, I know, it’s a burden), so I often have my phone with me. Oh, and maybe so I can call home and say I’ll be late for dinner. Hence the three dunkings. But these phone resurrection methods have worked for me, and while I hope you never have to use them, it’s nice to know that the game isn’t over if your phone goes sub-surface.

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