Winter is coming, leaving us all scrambling to stay cozy and warm. But living creatures aren’t the only things that need to be shielded from extreme temperatures. Electronic devices must also be kept warm during the winter season. Leaving your phone (or any other device that uses a battery) out in the cold can result in serious damage. The battery of an electronic device can freeze, which will affect how long it can hold a charge in the future.

Cold Weather Hurts Electronic Devices

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Sudden changes in temperature can also affect the inner workings of electronic devices. If you have your laptop computer outside in the cold and you suddenly enter a warm building, the abrupt change in temperature could cause condensation inside your device. The condensation could get on the device’s circuit board and result in a short circuit. Remember that condensation is water, and water and electricity do not mix. A short circuit caused by the condensation inside your smartphone or laptop computer can fry the parts.

Cold weather is also harmful to the screens of your electronic devices, such as your tablet or smartphone. Prolonged exposure to below-freezing weather can cause the screen to crack. The risk of cracking is higher on bigger devices such as tablets and laptops. A cracked screen of an electronic device can allow moisture to enter into your device. As with condensation, this can result in a short circuit.

If you do notice any condensation in your device, there are some steps you can take to help mitigate damages. The first thing you need to do is turn your device all the way off. Then remove the SIM card and back up your data if possible. Next, remove the battery. Place all of the parts in a container with silica packets. If those are unavailable, set your device in a large bowl of uncooked rice. Let your device stay in that container for several hours or, better yet, overnight. Resist the temptation to reassemble your device too early. The drier, the better.

You can protect your electronic devices from damages due to cold weather by merely keeping them inside. Most electronic devices are designed to work between the 32 and 100 degree temperature range. Make sure that your device stays in that range when you have to bring it out in the cold. If you have a bad habit of leaving your device in the car, create reminders for yourself, so you’re less likely to forget. Taking the time now to remember your devices will save you a lot of time (and money) fixing them after a freezing night in the garage.