Marla Ottenstein's Get Organized: I.C.E. cards make all the difference in an emergency

Click on the photo to enlarge for printing. Or visit  www.medids.com/2-trifold-id-card.html to print a free one.

Click on the photo to enlarge for printing. Or visit www.medids.com/2-trifold-id-card.html to print a free one.

Marla Ottenstein/special to the Daily News 
 Be sure to laminate your I.C.E. card and make it slightly larger than your other cards so that it is highly visible in case of an emergency. Typing "In Case of Emergency" in bold red letters is a good idea too.

Marla Ottenstein/special to the Daily News Be sure to laminate your I.C.E. card and make it slightly larger than your other cards so that it is highly visible in case of an emergency. Typing "In Case of Emergency" in bold red letters is a good idea too.

For those of you who read "Get Organized" on a regular basis, you've heard me say it a gazillion times — no matter how young or old you are (college students listen up), your sex or marital status, every adult should carry an "In Case of Emergency" card (I.C.E.) in their wallets at all times, period, end of conversation!

This does not mean entering the name and contact number of a close friend or relative in your smartphone, this means taking the time to write down the pertinent information; put it in your wallet and carry it with you everywhere you go.

Recently, my mother, who for years has refused to carry an I.C.E. card, let alone provide each of her grown children with a concise list of emergency names and numbers, was admitted to the emergency room. I'll give you three guesses who spent 36 hours tracking down doctors' names, copies of insurance cards and medical records and a copy of her Advanced Medical Directive before surgery?

What my mom, and most aging parents, don't understand is it's the children who suffer when a parent doesn't provide the necessary information. Thankfully, my mom was released with a clean bill of health, but talk about a wake-up call?

If you are the child of an aging parent, it's time you step up to the plate and ask the questions you've been avoiding, and if you're a parent — no matter what your age — it's time you act your age and communicate with your children; don't assume they know whom to contact in case of an emergency and don't assume they know everything you think they should know about your health; doing so could be the difference between life and death.

Following is a list of the most essential information to include on your I.C.E. card, which should be reviewed and updated on an annual basis:

My name is: No nicknames, use your full and legal name

Winter residence: Including apartment number and ZIP code

Summer residence: Including apartment number and ZIP code

In Case of Emergency, contact 1: List name and all contact information clearly identified (mobile, home, work)

In Case of Emergency, contact 2: List name and all contact information clearly identified (mobile, home, work)

I have an Advanced Medical Directive: Provide name of lawyer and all contact numbers, if you have a "do not resuscitate" directive, ask your lawyer for a wallet-sized card to carry with you

Physicians' names: List primary care physician(s) and contact number(s). (Winter and summer homes)

I am allergic to: List all allergies, prescriptions and others (bee stings, shellfish, etc.)

I have a medical condition: Provide a brief explanation of the condition (heart, kidney, etc.)

n Medicines I am currently taking: List all medications

If you live in an apartment or condominium, make sure the property manager or superintendent has a copy of this information on file, as well as a key to your home in case of emergency.

If you have pets, add the following information and make sure your veterinarian has a copy on file as well:

I have a dog, for entry into my home, contact: List neighbor's name and contact number and/or property manager's name and contact number

Under no circumstances should my pet (name) be taken to an animal shelter of any kind. Call: List veterinarian's name and contact information

Trust me, all of this information will fit (front and back) on a business-card-sized card. Another option is to go online to www.medids.com/2-trifold-id-card.html. (Note: there are no options for listing information about an Advanced Medical Directive or pets.)

There's only one thing worse than not having an I.C.C. card and that's having one that is riddled with errors and incorrect information. Before printing and laminating your I.C.E. card, be sure to triple-check everything to ensure accuracy.

In addition to carrying an I.C.E. card, you should always carry copies of your current health insurance and supplemental health insurance cards in your wallet.

Finally, if you're one of those people who figure someone else is driving, so why bother carrying any identification. Do you want me to start reciting the statistics of how many John and Jane Does lie in the morgue or hospital emergency rooms? Be smart — be safe!

We invite you to send us questions about how to get and stay organized, which will be addressed in future columns.

Hint of the day: My mom has prepared a list, which includes the names and telephone numbers address of friends and professionals, who should be called in case of an emergency. After last month's scare, each of her four children now has a copy of this list, as well as a copy of her current I.C.E. information.

© 2012 Naples Daily News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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