ICE: Tech to Save Your Life

Most people think of tech as a necessity or a luxury. But tech can also be a life saver.

What Is ICE?

ICE, which stands for In Case of Emergency, is a listing you can add to your contacts in your cell phone to tell emergency responders, such as paramedics, police officers and fire fighters, whom to call if you have suffered a trauma and can’t tell them yourself. Having ICE in your contact list means emergency responders can immediately call a loved one to inform him or her about your circumstances and find out if you have any medical issues of concern.

ICE is also important for children with cell phones to have in their contact list so parents can be  called immediately in the event of an injury to their child.


You can add more than one ICE contact. Some people add multiple contacts: ICE 1, ICE 2, ICE 3, etc. If your cell phone has a Notes section in the contact list, you can add any medical information such as allergies, medical conditions, etc.

Another reason to have ICE in your contact list is that a Good Samaritan who finds your lost phone can call your ICE number to find out how to return your phone to you.

The great thing about ICE is that it’s free. Anyone can use it. You don’t need a smartphone or an app, just a cell phone.

How Does ICE Work?

Here is a YouTube video that was posted by the town of Monterrey Park, California showing how ICE works in action.

As the video shows, ICE is also helpful to know about in case you ever discover someone in distress.

How Did ICE Get Started?

ICE was the brilliant idea of a British paramedic, Bob Brotchie, who identified a need to contact loved ones of patients and victims. Many emergency responders in the UK, Europe, Australia and North America have been trained to look for ICE when a person is unable to communicate due to accident, injury or illness.

The State of Illinois in the US has mandated training for emergency personnel so they will know to look for an ICE listing in a cell phone.

What About Smartphones That Are Password Protected?

If you have a smartphone that requires a password to access your contact list, what then? There’s an app for that. Actually, there are quite a few ICE apps in the iTunes App Store and the Android Market.

Try to find an ICE app that puts emergency contact information on your lock screen. You don’t want an emergency responder to have to hunt for an ICE app on your phone, even if you have the app on your home page. If the ICE message is on your lock screen, the responder will see it immediately.

For the iPhone, check out ICE – In Case of Emergency in the iTunes App Store by Minute Apps for $1.99. Here is the link: ICE iPhone App. This app has the advantage of letting you put your emergency contact information on your lock screen and add vital information such as medical conditions, blood type, physician contact information and insurance information.

For Android phones, check out Emergency Information (ICE) in the Android Market for $1.99. Here is the link: Emergency Information (ICE). This app does not put the contact information on the lock screen, but does the next best thing. The app puts a widget on the lock screen that alerts the responder to press the icon. The app then overrides the lock screen and opens the app. The app also allows calls to be made to your ICE contact(s) directly from the app.

Here is a picture of the app on the lock screen:

Not Everyone Loves ICE

ICE is not without controversy. There are some who claim that emergency responders should be busy trying to attend to your medical needs, not making phone calls. Some people worry that a cell phone thief might use the ICE contact number to wrangle credit card information from loved ones, while leading them to believe that you are in desperate straights.


Bottom Line

Although some people perceive issues with using ICE, I still believe ICE is a useful way to alert emergency responders to your vital contact information. If you also believe ICE is useful, please add ICE to your contact list now. And if you’re a parent with a child who has a cell phone, consider adding your contact information in an ICE listing on your child’s phone as well.


Do you have an ICE contact on your cell phone? Do you have an ICE app you recommend? Let us know in the Comments section below!


* Image by Trey Ratcliff

** Image by kaet44

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    • says

      Hi Amy, Definitely put ICE on your phone and it’s a great idea to suggest that your parents put ICE on their phones too. I hope you and your parents never need to use it, but it’s a comfort knowing it’s there.

      Thanks so much, Amy, for the visit, comment and very kind shoutout in your fantastic blog post! :-)
      Carolyn Nicander Mohr recently published this awesome post..ICE: Tech to Save Your LifeMy Profile

  1. says

    A little inconvenience is most cellphones are not designed for it.

    What I mean is: for most phones, the phonenumber is an unique identifier. So, if a husband wants to keep his wife’s number as ICE, her addressbook entry has to be renamed as ICE. As there can’t be two addressbook entry by same phone number. ICE is only an emergency situation. But as smartphones do everything from email to Facetime to IM to skype, its odd to be communicating with ICE on a regular basis.
    You see the issue?
    I knew about the ICE 6yrs back, I maintained it for a while…. but then faced with this problem and took it off.
    Still searching for a better option.

    • says

      Hi iRewardChart, I understand what you mean, but I haven’t found this issue. I have tested ICE on Android, iPhone and other non-smartphones and have been able to add ICE as a contact without affecting the original contact.

      Which phone did you have this issue with? I don’t want to discourage anyone from entering ICE as a contact if this issue doesn’t affect their phone.

      Thanks so much for bringing this issue to our attention. I hope it doesn’t affect many types of phones!

      I greatly appreciate your visit, valuable comment and kind tweet! :-)
      Carolyn Nicander Mohr recently published this awesome post..Visual Math: Making Math Fun!My Profile

      • says

        Carolyn, Sorry – I didn’t try before I wrote. In iPhone, apparently phone number isn’t the unique identifier, hence its possible to have two addressbook entries having the same number. It was so in the previous *non*smartphone I used. I shoulda tried before writing that.
        So I now went ahead and created an ICE number. Thanks for letting me know.

        • says

          Hi iRewardChart, Thanks for clearing that up. I tested ICE on my iPhone and two Android phones and one non-smartphone and didn’t have a problem. I remember having ICE on my Motorola Razr phone back in the day…

          You must have had a phone that was somewhat unique with that issue.

          Thanks again for clearing up the issue!
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    • Rachel says

      I like the idea of key tags. The helmet tag is a fantastic idea. I’d not seen that before.

      We insist on ICE tags on sneakers for our running groups. At a minimum you can write your ICE information inside your sneaker.

      In a pinch, I’ve also used those pesky address labels that come in the mail – I write an ICE phone number below my address and stick it to the inside of my hat, backpack, etc.

      • says

        Hi Rachel, Welcome to The Wonder of Tech! Great idea for you to insist on using ICE in your running groups. Thanks to you and Gwen for pointing out that ICE doesn’t have to be in cell phones, you can have ICE on key rings, tags on sneakers, backpacks, hats, etc.

        Rachel, your visit and helpful suggestions are greatly appreciated! :-)
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    • says

      Hi Gwen, Welcome to The Wonder of Tech! I am thrilled to spread the word about ICE. When I first heard about ICE, I wanted to shout it to the world but didn’t have a way to do that. That’s one of the reasons I enjoy writing a blog, to let the world know about important information like ICE.

      Thanks for letting us know about ICE tags. That could also be handy for those who don’t carry cell phones or for younger children.

      I appreciate your visit and comments, Gwen!
      Carolyn Nicander Mohr recently published this awesome post..Poll: Do You Have True Online Friends? #NicheAmnestyMy Profile

  2. says

    What a brilliant idea is it!Simple but perfectly done. ICE really must be put in cellphones apllications. We dont know what will happen in the next few minutes so if incase of emergency people who are near to you must easily ask assistance for help. I think it will really save thousand of lives since major causes of death like accidents and heart failure are due to lack of immediate response.
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  3. says

    I had never heard of ICE until I watched a comedy program on BBC TV, Sirens about paramedics and they were putting people on their phones in case of emergency. It was quite funny as they decided who to put on and who not to. One had his ex-girlfriend which wasn’t a good idea. Another had someone he hadn’t told! It is a good idea to be close to the person and tell them! :)
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  4. says

    Woo hoo… Guess what! I knew about this aren’t you impressed? I have it on my Mom’s cell phone in case something happens to her. Oh and mine too! :-)

    I think that the emergency technicians should of course worry about the injured party first but at least when they get to the hospital, those belongings can be given to the staff and they can contact the loved one. At least that way they will know who to contact. Dah!

    Now as far as the Smart Phone goes, I guess I don’t have to worry about that yet. But don’t worry, whenever I upgrade, I’ll ask your advice first.

    Thanks Carolyn, so happy to actually know about something before reading it here. I’m feel so proud.

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    • says

      Hi Adrienne! I’m so glad you already knew about ICE and use it for yourself and your mom. But might I also suggest that you add ICE to your iPod Touch as well? Someone could easily mistake your iPod Touch for an iPhone and look for an ICE contact there. They won’t be able to make the call from there, but they will at least have your ICE information.

      I got a question from someone earlier this week who wanted to return an iPhone that he found, but the phone was password protected so he couldn’t access any information to find out who the owner was. If there was an ICE app on the home screen, the person who found the phone would have been able to return the phone to the owner.

      Thanks so much, Adrienne, for your visit, wonderful comment and fantastic tweet! :-)
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