Keep Your Tech Safe When Winter Weather Hits

Icy arctic air is spreading through the United States this week and, while you’re busy bundling up, don’t forget to protect your tech devices from the cold weather, too.

Frigid temps can sap battery life and crack screens. Snow and slush — any moisture, really — can wreak havoc on batteries, circuits and speakers. And wild temperature swings from moving between indoor heat and outdoor cold can damage screens.

Here’s some advice for protecting your smartphone and other mobile devices when cold and wet weather hits, as well as a tip for trying to save a wet gadget.

Prevention

The best way to ensure your device leads a long and productive life is to take the necessary precautions. Here are a few ways to take prevention to the next level beyond keeping your tech in a pocket or purse.

  • Plan ahead: Don’t leave your device in your cold vehicle.
  • Protect: Sturdy, waterproof cases are great for protecting phones, cameras, laptops and tablets from moisture, as well as from impact after an accidental slip on an icy sidewalk.
  • Accessorize: Consider a smartwatch, Bluetooth headset or wired earbuds to see alerts and use voice control (Siri, Google Now, Cortana) to operate your phone without having to remove it from your warm pockets.
  • Power properly: Plug your gear into surge protectors rather than a standard wall outlet in case of a power outage. If you want more peace of mind, look into upgrading your power strip to an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS), which offers battery back-up when the electricity goes out.

Reaction

Despite your best preventive measures, stuff happens. So when you drop your device in snow or a slush puddle, don’t panic. Try to revive your wet gadget by following these steps first:

  • Find a warm place. This will keep any water in the device from freezing.
  • Remove the battery (if you can) because keeping it in can fry electrical circuits.
  • If it’s a smartphone, remove the SIM card, which contains your contact information. Even if you can’t restore your device, at least you’ll have your contacts. Even better, make sure you back-up your important information to cloud storage (iCloud for iPhones, OneDrive for Windows Phone or Google for Android).
  • Try drying the device with a clean microfiber cloth, and put the gadget in an airtight container with packets of silica gel to absorb the moisture. You can find the packets at outdoor stores or packed in with a new pair of shoes.
  • Another drying option is to fill a deep pot or bowl with uncooked rice and submerge the device in the rice for a few hours. The grains should absorb any water.

If all else fails, remember that you can always call on Geek Squad for help.