Don’t let cold weather freeze your communications

With a lot of winter still ahead of us, you should be aware that large temperature variations that come with cold weather could damage your cell phone. Before heading out to enjoy winter sports or travel, there are precautions that can be taken so that communication isn’t cut off when it is needed the most. 

Here are some tips to improve the chances that your phone will survive a cold winter’s day or night:

• Temperatures below 40 degrees can start to harm the battery life and can run down the phone’s battery charge more quickly. If your cell phone is exposed to cold temperatures, allow the phone to warm up to room temperature before using it.

• Avoid leaving it in an outside pocket of your parka or backpack or in the car overnight. When out in the cold, carry it in an inside jacket pocket, keeping it close to your body for warmth.

• Prolonged exposure to the cold may affect the phone’s display screen. Handle your handset with care. The display cover can become brittle when exposed to cold temperatures for long periods of time. In this case, the liquid crystals within the display will literally start to freeze. The screen may be very slow to respond when changing screens, may change tints or shadow lines may appear. Best thing to do is get the phone into a warm place and let it warm up to room temperature.

• If you left your cell phone overnight in your car or are coming in from a cold day on the slopes, let your cell phone warm up to room temperature before powering up. Condensation could form on the circuitry and possibly cause a short when you bring it in from the cold to warm air.

• If your cell phone gets wet from the condensation, power it down right away. Once the power is off, remove the battery. Grab a towel or napkins to get as much excess water off the phone as you can. Remove any skins, covers or faceplates. If you have a flip phone, you should open it up, so air can reach the keypad. You should leave a wet phone powered off for a day or two to give the internal circuitry a chance to dry out.

• Once you replace the battery, push the “on” button. If the phone turns on, you can breathe a sigh of relief. However, check your keypad. Keys that stick or don’t work all the time are signs of permanent damage. nhbr

Jeff Brown is U.S. Cellular’s service manager for New England.