What is an I.C.E document and how could it save your life?

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"If you fall ill or have some accident at home and you are unresponsive, this document could save your life." Photo: Getty Images
"If you fall ill or have some accident at home and you are unresponsive, this document could save your life." Photo: Getty Images

You never know when tragedy might strike, so it's best to be as prepared as possible. When children are involved, it's even more important that everyone knows what steps to follow in an emergency. 

This is where an In Case of Emergency, or I.C.E document comes in handy. It is a one-page document that you have accessible for the attending E.M.T or paramedic in case of any emergencies, and for family or friends to access in an emergency.

All medical personnel are trained to look for medical alert bracelets or necklaces. However, there are instances when patients don't wear them, posing a severe problem when they're in need of medical attention. 

Therefore, if you fall ill or have an accident at home and are unresponsive, this document could save your life. A good spot for this I.C.E document is on the side of the fridge.

If you have children at home, you should have all the necessary details clear and accessible and  the best practice is to role-play a few scenarios.

This will help prepare your children in case of an emergency and equip them with the skills to handle a stressful situation, so they know who to call and when. We have emergency drills at work and in schools, why not have them at home as well?  

Read: The NICU is a different world, a terrifying one: What to expect if you deliver your baby early.

Children of all ages can operate a smartphone, so starting from an early age show them how to call a family member or a neighbour for help.

Add your full address to the top of the document, starting with your home or unit number and the name of your street or complex, and so on.

The I.C.E. document needs to contain your emergency dispatch number of choice:

  • Nationwide Emergency Response – 10 111
  • Cell phone Emergency – 112 (Medical, Police, Fire and Sea Rescue)
  • Private Medical Aid Number if relevant

This, along with the necessary and immediate information needed in an emergency, such as existing medical conditions, allergies, medical aid details, and so on, will assist first responders to get you and your family the help you need, fast. 

You can create a document that is specific to you and your household, using illustrations for younger children to be able to interpret accordingly over the phone.

For the more minor children, I have created a rhyme that can assist with remembering what to do if they are ever faced with this situation and reassure them – it can be sung to the tune of the Nursery Rhyme Michael Finnegan.

If you need help, then call this number,
Say what happened, don't let them wonder,
I know you're scared, and your heart is racing,
Thank you for helping. You are just amazing,
Everything will be just fine, so a big big thank you,
Know that we'll be ok and that I love you!


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