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A few years back my brother was in a bad car accident. When the Emergency Medical Technicians arrived they needed to know who my brother wanted them to contact. He was in too much pain to speak coherently. Instead he gave them his cell phone and said his wife’s name. They found it in its address book and called her. She met him at the hospital.

This is standard procedure for EMTs today. They check a victim’s cell phone for an emergency contact. My brother could steer them to the right number. What happens if a victim is unable to speak, however?

If your cell phone’s address book is like many, it might be difficult to find the right emergency contact. You likely have your spouse listed by his or her first name. Which of the many first names do they call? A number labeled “Home” is a good bet, but what if you live alone? In my case, if they called “Mom and Dad” they would get my parents – in their 70s and 80s, who live on the other side of the United States.

The answer is placing an emergency contact number in your cell phone. The key is ICE, an acronym for “In Case of Emergency.” Starting in 2005, ICE became the name preferred for an emergency contact listing. Today, when emergency responders check your cell phone they look first for an address book entry labeled ICE. If they find one, they call it first.

Takes Less Than a Minute

It takes less than a minute to add an ICE entry to your phone’s address book. Create an entry titled “ICE” and put the phone number of the person you want contacted when you cannot speak for yourself.

You can add multiple ICE numbers by adding a number to the end of the name: ICE1 for the primary emergency contact, ICE2 for the secondary contact, and so forth.

Are we done? Not quite yet. You need to put your ICE number somewhere else on your cell phone besides the Address Book. Write the number on a piece of paper and tape it to the back of your cell phone, too. If an emergency responder needs an ICE number, your cell phone might be unuseable. It might be locked. The battery might be dead. Or it might be too badly damaged to work. A hard-copy backup taped to the back of your phone (or in your wallet) protects you further.

Before you find yourself in a situation where you need it, take your cell phone and put ICE on it.

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By Mark N. Lardas. Copyright © 2014 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines

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