For the first post in the preparedness series I wanted to start with something that is SO simple to do. That is to create an ICE Card (In Case of Emergency Card) for you and any of your family members.
Making an ICE card is so simple and has potential to save lives in cases where critical information is needed.
What is an ICE Card and why it is important?
An ICE card is an In Case of Emergency Card. The card should list any pertinent information about yourself, including critical medical information, and emergency contacts that would be important for someone to know in the case they are helping you in an emergency. It should be about credit card size and be able to fit easily in your wallet. Just having them on your cell phone is not enough by itself and if you do also put them on your phone make sure that they can be accessed by people who do not have your password (more on this later).
ICE cards are typically used by emergency medical responders or could be used by a stranger helping you in some type of medical emergency where you are not able to consciously provide information. In those cases, most people are trained to look into your wallet, and other personal effects to look for important information about you and emergency contacts. It can also be good if you lose a personal effect and a Good Samaritan wants to find you to return it.
I also like to treat the ICE card as an, “I lost my cell phone or my cell phone is dead card.” Unfortunately, I am one of those people that has virtually no numbers memorized anymore, I rely on them being stored in my phone. If an emergency were to happen where I did not have access to my phone but had capability of using a payphone or a stranger’s phone I would not know any numbers to call. I now keep all my important contacts on my ICE card as well.
What to include on an ICE Card
Most important info to include:
- Your Full Legal Name
- Medical Conditions
- Medications (May want to include dosage and frequency)
- Health Care Provider/Insurance Info
- 2-3 Primary Emergency Contacts
Other helpful info:
- Personal information like sex, eye color, hair color, date of birth, etc. and/or picture so people can identify that it is in fact you. (This is more important to include on kids cards or people that don’t regularly carry a driver’s license or other form of ID).
- Personal phone number (this is especially helpful for someone to use to contact you if they found something of yours).
- Blood type
- Organ donor status (Only necessary to include if you want to let people know you are one)
- Home address (I don’t find this essential if you have a driver’s license or other form of ID but it is a good idea to include this on your kid’s cards).
- Other emergency numbers: Examples are poison control, roadside assistance, locksmith, local fire and police department non-emergency numbers, insurance agent info, vet (especially if you take your pets out with you), important work numbers, and nearby emergency room numbers that take your insurance.
- Other important personal contacts (This would be most helpful in case you lose your phone and have other personal or work contacts you may want to reach).
How to Make an ICE Card
Ice cards are virtually free to make. Go into a word publisher application like Microsoft Word or Google Docs and create a new document. Change the page layout to landscape. Insert a table with 4 columns and 2 rows to fit doc size. Edit each section for the info you would like on the front and the info you would like on the back. See the image above as an example. This document once created should make 4 cards total front and back. They will be the approx. size of a credit card and fit in your wallet. I have included a short video tutorial below if it helps.
Once complete print document and cut out each card but leave the front and back connected so you can fold over so they are front and back cards. I prefer this method to an ice card template as you can add more info and customize it to fit your needs.
If you still prefer, you could use an Ice Card Template visit GetIceCard.com. Enter the information in that they request and it will create a PDF document with two copies of the card that you can print out and cut the individual cards out. You can then write any other important info you would like on the card on the back.
Make sure whichever method you choose that you double and triple check the cards so that all info and numbers are correct.
Next, protect the cards by either laminating them, slipping them into a card protector, or covering them in clear packaging tape front and back. Whichever method you choose, make sure to cut down to card size again. You could also consider printing the cards on a thicker paper like card stock so they are more durable.
Where to place ICE Cards
At the bare minimum, it is important to carry your ICE card in all your wallets. Apart from your wallet, you may want to have the cards in your glove box, first aid kit, purse, or any other bag you frequently carry. Redundancy is key here. If you have kids, place their cards in items they are likely to carry regularly, like their backpacks.
Create an ICE sheet for your home
If an emergency were to happen at home you want to make sure that you are prepared and not scrambling last minute to find the important numbers you need. The best way to do this is to create a sheet that has all the important info you would need in an emergency situation. Size will not be an issue here as it does not need to fit into a wallet.
Examples of information to include on your home ICE sheet:
- Like the ICE card it should contain emergency medical info for individual family members like allergies, medications, and important to know medical conditions
- Emergency contacts
- Local fire department and local police non-emergency numbers
- Poison control
- Water company emergency number in case a water main breaks
- Electric/Gas Company emergency number in case of a gas leak or power outage
- Cell phone and internet provider info in case you are unable to get online to access them
- 24hr emergency plumber and HVAC technician that you have pre-screened beforehand for water leaks and other emergency issues.
- Info on how to turn off utilities in case of an emergency
- Landlord, HOA, or neighborhood watch info if it applies
- Next door neighbor’s numbers
- Insurance agent info and policy numbers
- Local emergency rooms and hospitals
- If you have pets put info on the sheet that lists important info needed for the pets. Examples medications, veterinarian, emergency vet clinic numbers and locations, animal poison control etc.
After you create this document you will want to make sure that beside yourself, all family members and any people that regularly come into your home (think babysitters, pet sitters, house sitters etc.) know where this info is. A good place to keep it is hanging on the side of the fridge or in an emergency binder.
Digital Storage of ICE Info
Once you created this info is make sure the info you created is stored digitally so you can access across multiple devices. Options for this (consider doing more than one) are emailing to yourself, saving what you created as a Google Doc in Google Drive. If you created it using another application save it in a file share service like Dropbox. Another great option is to copy and paste the info into a note taking application like Evernote or Google Keep.
In addition to the ICE cards it is still a good idea to create some ICE contacts in your phone. The primary thing is that you need to have access to these numbers even when your phone is locked. Some phones make it easier to do then others here is an article on How to Put Emergency Contact on Your Phone’s Lock Screen. There are also free ice card apps like this one. You may also decide you want to put some additional emergency numbers in your phone that you would like quick access to.
This is the first post in my Preparedness Series. I hope this post inspires you to start creating these very important documents this week to keep you and your family members safe. Next preparedness post will be on How to Prepare Your Car for Winter. To view the entire Preparedness Series click here.
– Elizabeth Hemmings
Having an ICE card is so important. Share this post with the people you care about using the sharing icons below and help someone be prepared if they are ever in a situation where they need this info.