Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Forget ICE: put your contact information on your iPhone lock screen

After mass emergencies I often read Facebook posts on about the "In Case of Emergency" (ICE) program:

It encourages people to enter emergency contacts in their mobile phone address book under the name "ICE". Alternatively, a person can list multiple emergency contacts as "ICE1", "ICE2", etc. The popularity of the program has spread across Europe and Australia, and it has started to grow into North America.

Of course this only works if you leave your phone unlocked. That's kinda risky in the era where our smartphone is the key to our lives. In any case business phones have mandated locks.

A much better policy is to have your iPhone (or Android) lock screen display your contact and emergency information in a note. Then if someone taps the power button they see it all. You can organ donor status if you like. Of course this also means that if someone finds a lost iPhone you'll probably get it back.

Here's how I do it on my iPhone:

  1. Create a note with the information to display.
  2. Press home-power button to take a screenshot.
  3. In Settings choose Brightness and Wallpaper. (See how to set your iPhone lock screen).
  4. Tap on the Wallpaper image and make the screenshot you saved your lockscreen, but not your wallpaper.
It takes a minute. I keep the note around in case I want to revise it sometime.
I include
Home phone
Emerg phone (Emily's cell)
My email
My organ donor status

If you have a significant medical condition, you could add a line that with the URL for a web page with key advice, or you could type it in. (On the i5 there's lots of room.) Don't bother adding your blood type, nobody would rely on that.

You can do something similar with Lion and later to help recover a lost laptop: Lost and found: putting contact info on iOS and OS X login screens.


Martin said...

In my country, rescue services don't recommend to use ICE. Contacting relatives hasn't priority anyway, lifesaving has. Having an ID card or something else to identify in your purse is purse is sufficient …

BTW, that's one of the things I remember from forensic medicine: Please don't commit an 'ugly' suicide (i.e. jumping from a bridge or under a train) without proper identification. And in any case, there're more efficient (and less antisocial) suicide methods, for example getting familiar with 'useful' plants in your garden … yeah, our forensic medicine professor was very open about his work.

John Gordon said...

Practical guy!