Friday, May 16, 2014


In the 'olden' days, people often carried around an ID card in their purse or billfold, listing an emergency contact.  This wasn't bad, although over time people forgot to update the card and cards got damaged or destroyed and the contact listed changed his or her phone number.

Then, in 2005, a global campaign started in the United Kingdom to encourage people to program an I.C.E. contact into their cell phone, and the program spread to the United States.  I.C.E. stands for In Case of Emergency, of course.  At that time, few if any phones had the built in capability for that, but there was a lot of information telling you how to indicate which individuals you wanted someone to contact, in the event of an emergency.

And it didn't take very long before cell phones started adding a feature so that it was quite easy to designate a contact as your I.C.E.  We all have our contacts listed in our phones, so designating one or two as an emergency contact was simple, and logical.  And of course as our contacts changed their information, we updated them in our phones anyway, so the I.C.E. was automatically updated.

However due to 'butt calling', and theft, cell phones added the ability to lock the phone so that you weren't accidentally calling someone when you sat down, and it was more difficult for thieves to use your phone.   Oops... there went the effectiveness of the I.C.E. designation.

So cell phones  added a feature so that it was possible to access the I.C.E., even if the cell phone was locked.

Sounds great, right?
Well, not so great.

First, different cell phones have different ways of accessing I.C.E. information on a locked phone. Unless the person looking for the info is familiar with your particular phone, they may not know how to access the info.

Next, if you and your cell phone become separated and you're in need of assistance, the person trying to assist you has no access to that beautifully designed I.C.E. program on your phone.

But the biggest and most important problem is that cell phones are not indestructible.  I don't know about you, but I have seen a number of phones with screens that are unreadable.  Most of the stories that accompany those damaged screen are rather amusing, but the point is a serious one.

So here's my public service announcement to all of you -- and just as all of you spread the word about the importance of designating an I.C.E. contact, I would urge you to pass this information on as well ---

It is CRITICAL... I mean CRITICAL that you carry emergency contact information in your wallet or in your purse.  If you often just grab your debit card and driver's license and tuck them and your phone in your pocket before you head out... then tape your emergency contact info to the back of your driver's license.   I.C.E. is a terrific idea, it's a great program, but it's an adjunct to the old fashioned ID/emergency card,  not a substitute.

And now, for some tea.  Yes, it's getting warm outside, but there's nothing like a cup of hot tea, even in the summer.

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