Defy Mother Nature: Keep your electronics dry at the beach

Consumer Reports News: August 07, 2009 06:08 AM

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The risks posed by sun, sand, and water—not to mention spilled Coronas and hands sticky with sunscreen—make a convincing argument to leave your electronic gadgets at home when you set out for the shore. Doubtless Mother Nature feels that an iPhone, BlackBerry, or even a run-of-the-mill cell phone can disrupt an otherwise relaxing day at the beach. (She's probably right about that, although other gadgets, like MP3 players and e-readers might actually contribute to our beach-time repose.)

The reality is that we do take our phones to the beach. The need to stay in touch and to connect to the world beyond the dunes is simply too compelling. So it's not surprising when you hear about a friend who waded into the waves or outdoor shower with a cell phone in his pocket. Maybe it's even happened to you. Or me.

Here are tips on keeping your phone dry, from the victims experts here at Consumer Reports (the same advice applies to your MP3 player, camera, or e-reader):

Put your phone in a clear, sealable plastic bag and keep it there. We said it last year, too. Though there are waterproof cases you can buy at retail, we think an inexpensive, zippered plastic bag can be just as effective. And you really can dial and talk right through it. A sandwich bag is probably discreet enough that you don't look ridiculous. Just make sure that the phone and inside of the bag are completely dry before you zip the bag up tight. Otherwise the heat can turn the bag into a portable steamer.

Check your pockets before going into the water or shower. Obvious, but better yet, don't put your phone (or other gadgets) in there in the first place.

The Northeast Maritime Institute has developed Golden Shellback, an apparently waterproof coating for certain types of small electronics, but we'd pass on it. We haven't tested it and can't vouch for its effectiveness. Deterrents: It's expensive ($120 for an iPhone or BlackBerry Pearl), and though the demonstration video for the product has a phone immersed in tubs of water, the manufacturer warns you not to do the same. ("A device that has been fully immersed in water will not be repaired or replaced.") The warranty only guarantees your phone to be "weatherproof" for 30 days.

The safest course: Go cold turkey, and leave your phone at home. Resist the life of weisure (that's work + leisure). Take a stand and be unreachable.

Any other tips? We'd be glad to hear them. —Nick Mandle

Photo courtesy of SMN/Flickr

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