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Jumping Feet-first into the Media Whirlpool

We’ve all done it – tried to fish our mobile phones out of storm drain inlets on public streets and then become viral sensations when we got stuck. To be fair to the hapless Ella Birchenough, she seems to have laughed off her close encounter with Dover’s sewerage system. The 16-year-old has already done a few interviews with the press and has even been on Daybreak to talk about her experience.

Fortunately she has the support of her family. In a touching statement on the ordeal, her mother said, “I was really worried. My face went white and I was in a panic. I was scared she might sink. I ran out the house, turned the corner – but as soon as I saw her I burst out laughing.” Thanks, mum.

If you’ve not seen the story and are wondering how she ended up waist deep in a drain, Ella had figured that the best way to retrieve her phone would be to lower herself down and grab the stricken phone with her feet, then un-lower herself out again, dab any water off the phone then go back to school. A career in the Cirque du Soleil would have awaited Ms Birchenough had she pulled that stunt off.

As for the phone, well, it was a write off. Whether it was a written-off BlackBerry or a written-off iPhone depends on which paper you read, but she ended up with a brand new iPhone anyway courtesy of the lovely people at ITV. So after she’s sold the old one on eBay, it’ll turn out to have been a good day at the office for Ella.

So what is the best thing to do when you drop something valuable down a storm drain? Well, first, do a quick visual. Can you see the item or is it submerged (or too dark to see)? If it’s a phone, time is of the essence as every second of seepage increases the likelihood of the phone – and most importantly all its data – being lost. If it’s something really valuable like jewellery, it’s probably best calling for help and standing watch over the drain in case someone else’s prying eyes have seen the whole thing happening. If it’s a valueless but irreplaceable item of sentimental importance, then you’ll have to make a judgement call on getting professional help in.

The overriding rule is SAFETY FIRST. Don’t step out onto a main road and don’t remove grid covers unsupervised. Side streets are safer, but don’t lift a grille and leave it off – that’s dangerous.

You might be able to reach down with your hand and retrieve objects – drains aren’t always as deep as you might think, and often have traps in them too. A child’s fishing net or a hook taped to a cane might be enough to lift it out.

If this all fails and you really want the item back, get in touch with you local authority in the area and see if they can help. It’s possible they won’t be able to or will charge for their services, in which case you could try local domestic drainage companies. Obviously, the amount you’re willing to pay will depend on how deep your pockets are and how much you want the thing, but they will have the tools to do the job.

That’s what the average person should do, anyway; but the average person won’t get on Celebrity Big Brother. It’s your call