You need to know what to do and NOT to do and react quickly to save your device.
Be Prepared. You should have at home an electronics first-aid kit. You can get all the items from Amazon and you’ll be ready. Get a tub of silica gel (DampRid).
You should also have one or two rescue packs (Kensington 39723 EVAP Wet Electronics Rescue Pouch) that you can pack with your other stuff to take with you when you’re out and about. This will work well for a smartphone or an iPod.
There’s a chance (about 70%) that you’ll be able to dry the device completely and put it back to work. In most cases, it won’t be quick, and you’ll have to make a bit of a mess. But you could save yourself a trip to the electronics store for a replacement.
1. Get it out of the water as soon as possible — An unprotected device has less than 30 seconds before water leaks into the hardware.
2. Turn it off completely — If the device is still on when you fish it out of the water, turn it completely off. Even if the device is still functioning, turning it completely off may prevent any circuits from shorting out. This is NOT simply putting the device to sleep or turning off the display. Shut the device completely down.
3. Remove the battery, if possible — As the power source, this is more likely to be damaged by water than the actual device, especially if the item was on when contact was made with the water. If the device is a smartphone, skip this step. Opening the device will void the warranty and you probably don’t have the right tools to open it, anyway.
4. Remove the memory and SIM cards if possible — Because in many cases your data is stored on these instead of the actual computer or phone, you’ll probably want to protect them as much as possible. Fortunately, they’re fairly durable, so you’ll be able to dry them initially with a cloth towel, then let them air dry for a day before reinserting.
5. Remove any cables or peripherals and set them aside to air-dry — This is especially true for smaller devices, as there’s not a lot you can do beyond this. Headphones, in particular, are tiny, but extremely water resistant, even capable of surviving multiple trips through a washing machine and dryer.
6. Remove any covers and external connectors — This will open up as many gaps, slots and crevices as possible for drying, and help ensure that no moisture is trapped inside the device.
7. Get rid of all the water — This is where things get difficult. You may need to wipe it with a cloth or gently shake the water out. The following are other ways to remove water and completely dry your device.
Can of compressed air – You’ll need to be careful here, as compressed air likes to blow VERY cold and can momentarily freeze the surface of items it’s sprayed on. Any way you approach this, the device needs to be as water-free as you can get it before going to the next step.
Hair Dryer – If you don’t have compressed air, a hair dryer can help speed up the drying process, but ONLY with cool air settings. Do not bombard your device with hot air. This can be better than the compressed air, as a constant stream of swift blowing room-temperature air can be directed at your device without the worry of quick-freezing parts of it.
Alcohol – Using a cotton swab, wipe small amounts of alcohol on the affected areas and then blow on them again to evaporate the alcohol. Use this sparingly, but because alcohol evaporates faster than water, mixing the two may help remove water from stubborn places.
Cover the device with a drying agent – Here’s where the silica gel pellets come in handy. Some people use white rice, but that can cause many more problems than it solves. Get an airtight container and completely cover your device in the drying agent. Leave the device in the container for AT LEAST 48 full hours. Your device may require more time in the drying agent, depending on how long and how completely submerged it was. In some cases, the device may need to sit for multiple days or up to a week – WITHOUT trying to see if it will turn on again.
Waterproof Your Technology. There’s a high-tech and a low-tech way to do this.
The high-tech way is to buy a waterproof case or bag designed for your device. Check the submersion factor, a gauge of how many feet underwater the case will stay waterproof for at least 10 minutes.
The low-tech way is to use zippered plastic storage bags. This will work for smaller devices like music players, e-readers, and tablets. If you’re listening to music, keep the device in the plastic bag and use wireless ear buds.
Preparation is the best defense for summer water catastrophes. Set up your first-aid kit, get a couple of rescue pouches and BE CAREFUL when you get close to any water!