To Plan for Emergencies, Add ICE

How many people actually plan for an emergency? Not like a hurricane or a tornado. Like a serious car accident, loss of consciousness or other situation when you can't speak for yourself. We forget to take even the most basic steps to protect ourselves and our loved ones in the event of an emergency. And when people do actually plan, the small details are overlooked.

For example, I've been surprised over and over when I ask clients if they have added ICE to their cell phones, wallets and glove compartments. Most often, I'm greeted with a questioning look. The ICE I'm asking about isn't the kind in the cocktail you take with you to watch the sunset on the beach. I'm talking about ICE: In Case of Emergency.

Today, emergency first responders such as police officers, firemen, paramedics and emergency medical technicians are trained to search a victim's cell phone for an entry labeled "ICE". Not enough people do it, or even know about it. With ICE, emergency personnel know who to call in the event that something has happened to you.

To create an In Case of Emergency entry in your mobile phone, start with your name! You would be surprised at how many people forget to add this most basic identifier. Also, list two emergency contacts, one of whom should be the person you have named as your health care surrogate. Hopefully, this person will also know other important information about you and your health, including who else needs to be contacted and the name of your primary physician.

Mobile devices like iPhones and Androids will easily display this amount of information if you create a contact called ICE, and add a notes section with your name and emergency contacts.

Next, I suggest a laminated card with the same information be placed in the glove compartment of each of your vehicles and in your wallet. Because you have more room on the card than on your cell phone ICE entry, you can include more emergency contacts and their phone numbers, health conditions like diabetes, allergies or heart problems. Include a list of current medications and the name and contact information for your primary care doctor.

Finally, if you take walks and don't tend to carry your phone or your wallet, I suggest punching a hole in a laminated emergency card and attaching it to your house key.

As with so many other parts of our lives, technology is available for this purpose as well. If you choose to, you can subscribe to a variety of services that store your emergency information and medical history and will provide it to first responders in the event of an emergency. Such services require that you wear or carry an identification tool such as a bracelet or wallet card. Of course this type of system only works the way you intended if you wear or carry the identification at all times and keep your information up-to-date.

Sheri Samotin brings more than 30 years of business and management experience to LifeBridge Solutions. She is a Certified National Guardian, Certified Daily Money Manager & Certified Professional Coach. She is the author of Facing the Finish: A Road Map for Aging Parents and Adult Children.

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