Protecting gadgets outdoors

Following are a few commonsense tips, one can hit the sand and surf with most of his portable electronics and still bring them home in one place.

Water proof cases from companies like Otterbox, Pelican and Anvil will protect devices not only from moisture, but also sand and dust, according to the Consumer Electronics Association. With special “shoot-through” cases that feature thinner plastic, the user can still snap pictures or spin the wheel on iPod.

But keep electronics out of the sun, because the cases don’t protect from heat damage. It’s still important to keep those devices in the shade when not using them.

If you plan to relax poolside or near the surf, slip a piece of foam inside the case so that the device will float if dropped in the water accidentally.

Any gadget with an open port, such as a head-phone jack or DVD drive, is vulnerable, so make sure to close port flaps to keep sand out. Take extra care with camcorders, which are particularly susceptible because of their numerous ports and moving parts.

For more serious beachgoers, electronics designed for more rugged conditions are available, such as underwater cameras. Audio system manufacturers offer speakers made especially for the beach, but it’s still a good idea to keep the electronic equipment out of the sun.

One might almost buy a little umbrella for audio gear to protect it in the shade. Store all of your devices in one place, like a cooler with no ice, to protect them from the elements – not to mention curious children or oblivious volleyball players.

Wipe your hands clean of sun-block or tanning lotion before handling your electronics, especially those with rubberized skins that can become discolored.

After your fun in the sun winds down, allow your devices to reach room temperature before using them again; bringing warm gadgets into an air-conditioned room can create condensation.

Also blast them with a can of compressed air to clean out any sand particles. If gadgets do get dirty, soaked or fried, don’t count on a refund or replacement – most warrantees don’t include damage from heat, sun and sand.

Unless it’s a product that is already geared to provide some kind of protection, the warranty is not going to cover it. By following a few precautions, however, one can enjoy a summer full of surf side tunes, photos and gab sessions.

If proper steps are taken to protect the devices users can take them anywhere.