It’s a terrible sinking feeling (pun intended) you get when you drop your iPhone, iPad or Android — or other expensive hand-held electronic device — into water, such as a sink, bathtub or (gross) toilet.

When that happens, you respond quickly. You dip your hand into the offending reservoir, grab the device and shake it vigorously, hoping against all odds that you can force all moisture out before permanent damage occurs.

You may even dunk your device into a bag of rice, hoping that online tip you read about rice pulling moisture from electronic devices is true. You may submit it mercilessly to the business end of a hairdryer until it is too hot to hold.

What’s the best thing to do when electronic devices suffer from water damage?

Some devices are water-resistant or water-proof. If that’s the case, quickly removing the device from the water and drying it might be all you need to do, along with hoping the manufacturer wasn’t overselling this benefit. Replacement might be the only option. Check your warranty. It may cover this type of accident.

If your device is the victim of a direct spray of water, quickly wiping it down, removing the battery (if possible) and cleaning as much of the interior as possible may solve the problem. With the power off, put the device under a heat lamp or even in direct sunlight — but not for too long. Too much direct heat can cause damage. The rice trick mentioned earlier only works for that last little bit of residual moisture. Remove as much moisture as you can before using rice or other absorbent compounds.

If your device, once dried, seems to work… that’s good. But don’t be surprised if you notice a decrease in performance over time. Residues can cause future problems, even resulting in total loss of power or performance.

Before any of this happens, you should protect your data, which is often more valuable than the device itself. Use a good online storage program.

The best bet, however, with water damaged electronics is to call your water damage professionals right away. Odds are, they have a contents restoration specialist on staff who can give you the guidance and help you need.

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