THE BLOG
10/20/2014 01:13 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Save Your Life: Get ICE

2014-10-18-ICEcansaveyourlifeDavidKessler.jpg

Imagine this. Your loved one is late to meet you. You try to call and can't reach them. Hours pass. You start to panic and your mind wanders to worst-case scenarios. Something terrible has happened.

We've all been there. It could be our spouse, our child, parent or a friend. It's terrifying.

I've spent a lot of time in hospitals in my role as a grief and loss expert and I've seen the other side as well. Someone comes into a hospital. They are unconscious and the staff is searching for loved one to call.

Every second counts in an emergency. Doctors need to know your history, what you are allergic to and other essential information that could mean the difference between life and death. Or perhaps, doctors are trying to reach your loved ones so they can say goodbye before it's too late.

You lay unconscious with your cell phone full of contacts, but the hospital staff have no idea who to call. And because of HIPPA laws (laws that protect your medical privacy), hospital staff can only identify themselves to next of kin.

Precious time is ticking and your loved ones have not been reached. They are at home. They are terrified, wondering what happened to you.

We think we are covered -- that if there were an emergency someone would just call a contact in our phone, but how would emergency personnel know who to call? Because of HIPPA laws, they can't just call a random contact. And if a call comes in, they can't just answer it and talk to anyone. So your calls in to your loved one may go unanswered.

How can we protect ourselves so that we know we'd be contacted if something happened to someone we love... and our loved ones would be contacted if we ever ended up in an emergency situation?

By its very definition, an emergency is not planned. We never know when we or someone we love could be in an accident or have a heart attack. We don't want to think about this, but it's true. How can we prepare?

The solution takes just a minute.

The answer is ICE.

No, not the ice in your freezer. This ice is in your cell phone.

ICE stands for "in case of emergency." All hospital, police, firemen and paramedics know what ICE means. If something happens to you or someone you love, emergency personnel will search your phone for a contact called ICE.

If you don't have a contact called ICE in your phone, do this NOW. It could be a matter of life and death.

Pull out your cell phone and create a new contact. Call it ICE. In that contact type the people you would want to be contacted if something ever happened to you. Cover yourself by putting more than one person. Rank them in the order you would want them called. ICE 1, ICE 2, etc.

Do this for everyone you love. Do this for your elderly parent, your significant other, your children and anyone else you care about. Nobody wants to think about scary situations, but we all want to protect ourselves and the people we love.

Every day we walk into the world and we have no idea what will happen. We kiss our loved ones goodbye and hope they will come home. We don't want to think about what would happen if they could not contact us, but we must.

Take this simple step now. Share this article with as many people as possible. Your life and the lives of the people you love are on the line.