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Personal Finance FAQ

ICE, ICE, Baby

Is this real?
One of the three of them is about to roll in his 5.0 with the ragtop down so his hair can blow.

“If there was a problem
Yo, I’ll solve it
Check out the hook while my DJ revolves it”
–Vanilla Ice

How many of you already have the earworm of that song going through your heads? You’re welcome.

This isn’t about bad early 90s rap.

It’s about another type of ICE:

In
Case of
Emergency

None of us like to think that anything bad will ever happen. Monkey Brain likes to think that we’ll be just like we are now (or an even younger, healthier version of ourselves, a la Al Bundy’s endless quarterback memories) for the rest of time.

It isn’t going to happen. If we’re lucky, we’ll get dragged out feet first after having had a painless end in the middle of the night while we were sleeping at an age which would make Methuselah jealous.

What happens, though, if something bad happens to you? You’re in a wreck or a plane crash or get hit by a car while you’re out jogging, like has happened to people I know?

Yeah, buzz kill. Leave it to me to be Mr. Debbie Downer.

However, if the unthinkable happens, you want emergency responders to know what to do and whom to contact, particularly if you’re rendered incapable of communicating. Emergency responders are trained to look for ICE information.

What should you have in your ICE pack?

  • Emergency contact numbers. This should include both next of kin as well as your primary care physician. These people should know about your medical history and be able to explain any allergies or other risk factors that the responders need to know about. The responders can also notify the next of kin, emergency contacts, and physician about where you are being taken for treatment.
  • Blood type. If you need a transfusion and you have type A blood, you don’t want to be injected with a bunch of type B blood. Bad juju.
  • Allergies and drugs you’re taking. I have a pretty severe allergy to penicillin, so I definitely don’t want to be pumped full of it. Also, if you’re taking anything which would be contraindicated from something the emergency room doctors would give you, they need to know about it.
  • Full description of yourself. This includes:
    • Your full name
    • Height
    • Weight
    • Eye color
    • Hair color (natural, and dyed)
    • Identifying marks such as scars
    • Insurance information, including provider, group number, and plan number

    Notice that we don’t include your address. No need to give identity thieves any more information to work with.

  • A shot record. No need for a tetanus shot if you received one last month.
  • Where to find advanced medical directive (AMD) information. If you have a do not resuscitate (DNR) order, the responders need to know about it. Alternatively, keep a copy of your AMD information in your ICE pack.

Where should you store the ICE information?

  • On you. Keep an ICE card in your wallet with basic info: who to contact in an emergency, allergies, blood type, and preexisting medical conditions
  • A contact in your cell phone. That’s the first or second (probably second) place that emergency responders will look.
  • On a thumb drive clearly marked ICE. This can include more information that the cell phone might not be able to store.
  • On a quick response (QR) code. You can create a QR code here or here. Print it out and keep it on your person. If you can get it into your ICE contact, put it there too. Note: Pat from Feeling Financial had a great idea – use the QR code as your lock screen image labeled ICE if you have a password on your phone. EMTs typically don’t look at phones for ICE information, but hospitals frequently do.

Do you use an ICE pack? Tell us what other information it should contain in the comments below!

By

Jason Hull, CFP®, was the co-founder of Broadtree Partners, a firm that acquires $1-5MM EBITDA companies. He also was the co-founder of open source search consultancy OpenSource Connections, a premier Solr and ElasticSearch firm. He and his wife FIREd (financial independence retire early) at 46 and 45, respectively. He has a BS from the United States Military Academy at West Point and a MBA from the University of Virginia Darden Graduate School of Business.

You can read more about him in the About Page.

4 replies on “ICE, ICE, Baby”

I don’t yet do this, partly because I’m lazy. But I also have a password on my phone so I figure they couldn’t get to the info anyway. The QR code is a good idea. Maybe I could put that on my phone or possibly even make it the image that appears when the phone is locked (with the word ICE showing).

After a quick search, that’s easy to do. Hang on a sec… and now it’s done. My lock screen now has a QR image labeled ICE. Thanks! Hopefully I’ll never need it, but at least my wife will be around if I do.

Dadgum, that’s a smart idea, Pat.

Actually, I wouldn’t assume that your wife would be around if you needed it. How often do you leave to go somewhere when you’re alone? Or, how many times are both passengers in a vehicle debilitated? I would hope if the Big One comes that my wife would be there to call the cavalry, but that’s not a safe bet.

Redd Foxx Print

I can’t take all the credit — the QR code never occurred to me before so we figured it out together. Yes, it’d be nice if my wife was already with me on the way out, but I meant that now I have a way to (hopefully, if the EMT notices and somebody’s able to read the QR code….) have somebody contact her quickly if she’s not there. Thanks again for a little peace of mind.

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