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Cell Phone Survives a Plunge in the Catawba River

Updated on January 29, 2014

Can Cell Phones and Water Mix?

Spider Lilies
Spider Lilies
Motorola V176
Motorola V176
Cell Phone Battery
Cell Phone Battery
Cell Phone SIM Card
Cell Phone SIM Card

Recently Carla and I were taking pictures of Spider Lilies in the Catawba River in the Landsford Canal State Park near Chester, South Carolina.

About This Park - Landsford Canal State Park - South Carolina State Parks

Since they only grow in the water, I went through a lot of trouble getting out to where I could get a better picture. On the way back, I jumped from a rock and grabbed an over-having limb on the bank in order to maintain my balance. I sensed, more than felt, that my phone -- leather case with belt clip and all -- had fallen into the river. I reached down to my belt where it should be; and, just as I suspected, it was gone.

I backtracked a few feet and saw it sitting in a small pool just a short distance away. The rocks that created the pool had kept it from floating downstream. I picked it out of the water as quickly as I could. My guess is that it had been in there for about a minute. I had never had anything like that happen before. I remembered that a friend of mine said his phone still worked after he dried it out when it had fallen into a bucket of water.

There Can be Life After Dunking

Drawing faith from his experience, I removed the back from the phone and took out the SIM card and the battery. I shook out all of the water I could, and put each item in a separate pocket, thinking that some of the moisture might be absorbed by my clothing. I carried the cell phone itself open in my hand, hoping that the air and sun would help to dry it out.

Since we were deep in the woods, I was in a hurry to get back to my car where I could put everything in the back window where it could get more direct sun and less humidity.

Needless to say, the outing was shortened. All I could think about was if I had completely ruined the phone. It is a Motorola V176 that I bought through my cell phone carrier NET10 Wireless - Pay As You Go Made Simple

It has a good reputation for reliability, but I wasn't sure about its ability to withstand the dunking. Since a pharmacist is also a chemist, I took some solace in the fact that the Catawba River was running cold and clear where this had all happened, so there shouldn't be a lot of minerals or dissolved contaminants to worry about.

When we got home, I put all the pieces on a chair in the patio room where they could get direct sun for most of the day. I got on the Internet and found out that there had been varying experiences as to recovery possibilities under these circumstances. I also found out that there is a little dot that turns red and invalidates any warranty when it has been submersed. Yep, it was red.

After about twelve hours -- I couldn't stand it anymore -- I put the battery and SIM card back in to see if it would work. The phone software loaded up, but it didn't show any reception. I was afraid that I might have ruined the antenna somehow. Indicating more faith than I really had, I removed the battery and put it all back out in the sun again, hoping that I had not screwed up any chance of it recuperating on its own by doing what I had just done.

With a sense of apprehension, I put the battery and SIM card back in about a day later. Everything seemed to work fine. All the functions seemed to be normal.

I was still worried about plugging it into the charger. It might be that the current produced by the charger could ruin something that the low voltage from the battery hadn't. I let it sit there for about another day. I plugged in the charger, the light came on and nothing sizzled.

That was about two weeks ago. I am certainly happy that everything seems to be as it should.

This turned out to be an inexpensive lesson. It could have been a lot worse.

The take home here is that I need to secure the phone on a lanyard or in a deep pocket before I head back to the river. If I plan to be in the river I will have to put it in a watertight container of some sort.


Bob Diamond R.Ph

Charlotte Christian Patriot

PS. It has been two months since the phone got dunked. It is still going strong!

How to Dry Out a Wet Cell Phone Video


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