In Case Of (Electronic) Emergency

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what do I do if I spill water on my laptopBy: Heather Neal :
Recently, Heather experienced electronic calamity. Here is her story.

About a month ago, I was sitting in front of my laptop, eating my breakfast and drinking my morning coffee. I reached forward to type a witty response to my friend’s Facebook post, when disaster struck. I caught the edge of my cup just right with my hand and (in slow motion) my coffee spilled on my laptop. In a panic, I hit the power button and immediately flipped my laptop upside down. I watched in horror as coffee and cream seeped out of the keys. Oh no! Was my laptop doomed? I had no idea what to do next. As it turns out, I made a few mistakes that day and I ended up having to replace the motherboard, keyboard and touchpad (which was still less expensive than buying a new laptop). In an effort to help you gain from my loss, here’s what I should have done, and what might help save your gadgets from some common mishaps.

What to do when you spill on your laptop: Since I’ve used myself as an example, let’s start with saving a laptop from liquid death. First of all, I had the right instincts. Power it off immediately. It’s okay to hold down the power button for a hard shut-down in this case. Then turn it over, keyboard side down, so it looks like an upside-down “V”, unplug your power cord and remove the battery. Laptops usually have an internal liquid barrier that should minimize the damage to the components of your computer. The big mistake I made and a very important no-no: DO NOT power your machine back on. When you spill water or other liquids on your laptop, it can take the moisture a long time to dry. Liquid and electricity do not mix and this is what fried my motherboard. In case you consider it, never use a hairdryer or a microwave to attempt to dry it out. Transport your laptop as soon as possible, keyboard side down, to your local computer repair company. Hopefully, you’ll can save yourself the cost of the motherboard replacement and only have to replace the keyboard.

What to do when you spill on your cellphone: As my son wanders the house with my iPhone, I have mini-nightmares about it getting dropped in the toilet or the contents of his sippy cup getting spilled upon it. What do you do if your cell phone or iPod takes a bath? First, as with your computer, power it down and do not turn it back on. Most phones and MP3 players allow you to remove the battery, SIM card and (if you have one) the SD card. Unfortunately, iPhones and iPods do not allow you to easily access the internal components, so take it to a service provider after powering it off. Drain as much liquid as possible from the phone. As with your laptop, don’t use any external heat source like a microwave or hair dryer to dry it out. Place the device in a ziplock baggie full of uncooked rice for at least 48 hours. The rice will wick away the moisture and (hopefully) dry it out enough so you can power it on safely. You can then reinstall the battery and cards and attempt to power on your phone. If it still won’t power on, you’ll need to contact your mobile service provider or a local repair shop to see if it can be repaired.

What to do when your cellphone overheats: Finally, did you know that you should never leave your cell phone in a hot car? I recently discovered this and though I’ve (thankfully) never done it, summer heat and two kids under four make it a virtual inevitability in my future. If you come back to your car to find that your cell phone has overheated, don’t panic. Remove it from the heat immediately and move it to a cool place. Don’t put it in the refrigerator or freezer – the moisture can be worse than the heat. Try placing it in front of your air conditioner vent on high. Once you feel you’ve given it enough time, and the device is cool or cold to the touch, it should resume function.

Are you facing an electronics emergency? Drop us a note on Facebook or email me, [email protected] for more tips and tricks to save your computer, personal electronics, or gadgets from calamity.