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Go Ask Mom

Amanda Lamb: Waterlogged

Posted April 22, 2012

"Mom, you're not going to believe what happened," my older daughter said breathlessly to me on her friend's cell phone.

"What," I replied nervously, thinking there was some kind of emergency. I was out of town visiting my mother in Pennsylvania at the time.

"I dropped my phone in the pool," she said with tears in her voice. "I've already taken it apart and put it in a bag of rice. Do you think it will be OK?"

No, Virginia. There is no such thing as a cell phone that works after being dropped in water. It's a myth ... an urban legend. I wanted to say to her. But I resisted. At least she was attempting the rice trick -- an idea she learned from my many mishaps between cell phones and water, three to be exact.

"Sweetie, probably not, but try it. It is worth a try," I said trying to quell the mounting panic in her voice.

"OK, well when can we get a new one. I need my phone," she said, sounding on the verge of tears again.

No, you don't need your cell phone. I need your cell phone to reach you about carpool arrangements, activities and babysitting arrangements for your sister. Waterlogged cell phone

"We will go to the store this week and see what our plan allows for us. I am not exactly sure what the insurance covers. But if there is a cost, I will split it with you," I said, championing myself for coming up with a fair solution to this new modern problem that I am sure many parents have faced before me.

Stunned silence.

"You mean, we can't go today," she said quietly.

There were several more calls from her that day as she logged onto the wireless company's website and started negotiating with me to upgrade her phone to a smart phone instead of one, that God forbid, just makes silly old phone calls and texts. Again, I told her we would discuss it the following week when I returned from my trip north. She wasn't happy with my answer, but she reluctantly accepted it.

Of course, our parents never had to deal with lost phones, but they did have to deal with moments like this when we lost or broke something by accident. There is a fine line between blaming them for something that was a mistake, but also teaching them to take responsibility for their things, especially things that cost a great deal of money to replace.

I am still not sure I made the right decision. Maybe I should have accepted it as a mistake and paid for the entire thing? Maybe I should have taught her a greater lesson about taking responsibility for her things and made her pay for the entire thing? But as parents, we learn as we go, and have to make decisions in the moment that we feel are right.

Like I said, I have lost my fair share of phones to water accidents over the years -- a lake, a boiling pot of water, and a puddle were the culprits in my case. It can happen to anyone. But these days, I am more careful than ever to keep my phone away from water and to always have rice on hand so I can for a brief moment think that waterlogged cell phones can come back to life if only you believe...

Amanda is the mom of two, a reporter for WRAL-TV and the author of several books including three on motherhood. Find her here on Mondays.


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  • busyb97 Apr 24, 2012

    Sounds like you did the right thing to me! She needs to learn some responsibility with her stuff. Yes, it may have been an accident, but if you drop YOUR phone in the pool, you have no one to split the bill with you! :)

    And no, my kids don't NEED the fancy stuff. NONE of us probably do. We just want it. Big difference.

    By the way- I had dropped a "dumb-phone" in a bathtub once. I pulled it out right away though, but it continued to work for years! You never know. She may have saved it and done the right thing with the rice-trick.

    Good luck.

  • Willie_11 Apr 24, 2012

    Look up Liquipel online and read about that. It makes your devices waterproof and it won an Edison award. If you must play Angry Birds in the shower, this is probably for you.

  • cwood3 Apr 23, 2012

    The challenges of raising daughters. Guys run them over or drop them in the livewell. Oh well, life's lessons are just getting more expensive.

    No smart phone till late HS-she pays-service too. Lessons learned.

    Good series Amanda. Thank you.

  • albegadeep Apr 23, 2012

    If an electronic device (phone, laptop, whatever) gets soaked, here's some basic advice to try to get it working:
    1. Unplug it and remove batteries. As fast as possible.
    2. If soaked with something other than water (i.e. coffee), take the device apart (if feasible) and thoroughly rinse the device with distilled or bottled water. Again, as fast as possible. This will help remove any residual liquid that would otherwise dry to a nasty residue.
    3. Let the device dry very thoroughly. (Still disassembled, if you could.)
    4. After it's COMPLETELY dry (couple of days), put the battery back in, charge it up, and try it out.

    Good luck. The quicker you are at removing the battery, the better your odds are.

  • snowl Apr 23, 2012

    Hey, I've got an old cell phone from 2002 that still works great. I have only replaced the battery a few times. Now I'm just embarrassed to go into Verizon and purchase a modern one! (and it probably won't last as long either!)

  • caniacman Apr 23, 2012

    I think the 50-50 is fair, it does both, you dont fully punish for it being an accident yet you do show her she is of an age where she has some responsibility as well.

  • jimcool59 Apr 23, 2012

    Maybe a little offbeat here. I,ve never lost a phone to water but have gotten into the shower with my hearing aid in and ruined it. Remember the tornados I was real close to being hit and quickly dropped my phones into a ziplock and front pants pocket then put on my motercycle helment and sat with no power but had radio for over an hour.

  • anggiet Apr 23, 2012

    My hubby lost his phone down a sewage pipe (he works for the water dept). IF he could have gotten it back, he wouldn't want it! He told me to send him smoke signals if I needed him. Luckily, we had an old phone at home that we transferred his service to.

  • grannybam07 Apr 23, 2012

    My husband has dropped plenty of phone into liquid of some kind on a construction site. He takes the battery out and lays the phone on the air ducts then turns the defrost of high. Worked like a charm when I dropped my first one into the pedicure tub right before Christmas. The week before I'd made the mistake of saying 'in almost 14 years of having a cell phone I've never dropped on in water.' - famous last words!

  • lwt Apr 23, 2012

    I have washed two different phones of my husbands. The first one were did not dry out well enough and had to replace it. The sales guy at the wireless store told me if it happens again, take the battery out, stuff it into a sock or two and throw it into the dryer with a few dry towels and let it run on a cooler temp (but not cold).

    When I washed his current phone, two different times, I did just that and it still works like a charm and it is close to 5 years old!