Cell phones are convenient communications devices. They are also small enough to misplace, annoying in restaurants and sleek enough to slip easily from your hand. Most cell phone designers take into account that their creations will be dropped, knocked around and generally subjected to the hazards of anything that is used and carried around all day. If, however, you drop your cell phone in water, you have only a short time to act decisively if it is to survive the incident.
Retrieve the phone immediately. The likelihood of survival for your phone is directly related to how fast you get it out of the water and begin to dry it out. If the phone is on, turn it off immediately. Shake any water off. Be careful to point the end of the phone that has receptacles for accessories down as you shake it--it's unlikely that they open into the circuitry of the phone, but it's better to be safe.
Set the phone down on a towel or paper towels and open it carefully. Older phones that are not sealed contain a battery, base and decorative cover. Most phones have sealed cases now and will not open, so turn the phone over and gently tap it until most of the water drains out.
Check the innards--if you can get to them. The SIM card is the brains of your phone. It is part of the memory that contains codes for the service and allows your transmitter to plug into the network that carries your communication. If the SIM card is soaked, chances are that your phone is dead. If the SIM card isn't soaked, be sure to drain the area around it and allow it to dry thoroughly.
Dab any wet parts of the phone with a towel. Use cotton swabs only to get into areas that have smooth sides--the cotton will shred on any sharp or hooked metal. Turn the phone and its parts onto a clean towel with any parts (like microphones or earphones) facing down so they can drain. Let the phone dry naturally for a day or so. Don't use heat because it will damage the battery and circuitry, but if you have radiators, put the towel with your phone on a table near the radiator--the heat rising from the radiator dries air as it circulates. All you can do is try the phone after drying. If it doesn't start up, you may have to get a new one.
Use a non-polar adsorbent like the ones packaged with medications or vitamins if you have one, or if your phone is an older model. These chemicals absorb water vapor in the air around them and are used to dry out everything from barns to prescription medicine. They may be packaged cellulose, silica, activated charcoal or a synthetic compound. Put your phone in a plastic bag with one of these "chemical adsorbents" and allow to it sit overnight.