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In Case of Emergency : ICE Could Save Your Life

ICE smart phoneMy parents finally stepped into the realm of Smart phones not too long ago. I’m so proud! As we programmed their new phones, we realized that neither of them had designated any emergency contacts. We all know that the older we get, the more “issues” we have and the more we have to be prepared for just about anything. I explained to Mom that I have “ICE” people listed listed in my phone, just in case, and wanted to add the designation to theirs, too.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that nearly 2 million emergency room patients could not provide contact information because they were incapacitated.  This includes critical information such as medications, allergies, existing conditions and emergency contact numbers. So many individuals, including kids, leave the home each day without any identification or emergency contact information, yet carry a cell phone.

In Case of Emergency

ICE is an internationally recognized acronym for “In Case of Emergency.” Using this simple, three letter code in your smartphone address book next to your spouse, significant other, parent, best friend, or any other emergency “go-to” person’s name makes it easy for paramedics, firefighters, and police officers, and hospital personnel to quickly find the contact information they need when you’re in a crisis. The phone entry should be in addition to written  information (such as that found in a wallet, on a bracelet, or on a necklace) and not rely on ICE contacts as a primary means of identification. You are encouraged to enter emergency contacts in your mobile phone address book under the name “ICE”. Additionally, you can list multiple emergency contacts as “ICE1”, “ICE2”, etc. “More and more, emergency responders being trained to search cell phones for that information in an accident or another emergency,” said the medical director of the Sherman Emergency Department and Immediate Care Centers, in a written statement last week.

Here is a Snapguide tutorial on how to enter an ICE number into your contacts.

For security, many mobile phone owners now lock their mobiles, requiring a passcode to be entered in order to access the device. This hinders the ability of first responders to access the ICE phone list entry. In response to this problem, many device manufacturers have provided a mechanism to specify some text to be displayed while the mobile is in the locked state. The owner of the phone can specify their “In Case of Emergency” contact and also a “Lost and Found” contact. For example, BlackBerry mobiles permit the “Owner” information to be set in the Settings → Options → Owner menu item.

Phones with the AndroidOS and iOS can download an app that works best for them. These range from FREE to about $3.99 depending on the functionality you require. Most of these apps store important information for first responders and hospital staff to use in case of an emergency that includes:

  • A list of people to call — can call directly from the app
  • Insurance information
  • Doctor names and numbers
  • Allergies
  • Medical Conditions
  • Medications
  • Any special instructions or other information you wish to provideLock Screen Emergency Contact Information

Alternatively, apps like Close Call help you create an overlay banner for your lock screen. This one eliminates the problem of accessing contacts on a phone with a passcode.

Additionally, AAA offers this Emergency information card to keep in your wallet, in your glove compartment, under the seat of your motorcycle, taped to the bottom of your bike seat/Segway/skateboard, inside your tennis shoe, in your helmet, in your backpack, etc.


We all feel better having put all the important information into Mom’s and Dad’s phones and I would encourage everyone to have at least one emergency contact on your cell phone. This could be a life-saver, for you and for whomever else you share this information with.