How To

Why ICE (“In Case of Emergency”) is Worthless

If you’re like Web Watch, then you too have likely received the parental email thread – typically forwarded from friend after friend, Facebook after Facebook post – that encourages everyone to enter an I.C.E. entry on your cellphone.


That ICE entry would contain the name, phone number, and other immediately important information about the person/people that emergency responders should contact for you when an emergency or crisis occurs.  Web Watch even knows someone who has a complete ICE binder sitting smack on top of their refrigerator, with the names, addresses, and phone numbers of their entire family tree.  This makes sense, of course – as everyone knows that the kitchen is the 2nd most dangerous place in the house… after the bathroom.

And who would want to keep an ICE binder in the bathroom?

Zombie Emergency
Zombie Emergency

Web Watch agrees with the basic premise about having some sort of emergency contact information available, but we’re here to tell you that ICE is generally regarded as being 100% completely worthless.


For a number of practical reasons, as Snopes was so nice to also point out.

Let’s say that you’ve stored ICE information in your cell phone.

  • Is your phone on you at the time that the incident occurred?  Or has it ended up many feet/yards away from you, with no obvious connection to it being YOUR phone?
  • Is there a lock screen on your phone?  Good luck getting a paramedic or hospital employee to crack your secret phone code in order to get to the directory listing in a timely manner.
  • Is your phone still even in working order, depending on the crisis going on? Car accidents, fire, water, other damage to the phone could render it unusable, even if there is no lock code on the phone.
  • With the myriad of different phones and contact directories out there, can you expect all emergency personnel to know how to use your specific phone?

And what about our friend with the refrigerator ICE binder?  If they’re lucky enough to be home at the time the incident occurs, the rescue workers will likely not be scouring the kitchen looking for ICE material to thumb through on the way to the hospital.

So what should you do?

Try getting a label maker and affixing a small label with a name and phone number on the back of your drivers license. 

It may not be as elegant a solution as what modern technology (or a fridge binder) can provide, but everybody knows how to read a drivers license.

So what’s your opinion on ICE?  Do you think it’s as worthless as we do, or do you proudly have an ICE entry in your phone right now? Leave your thoughts in the comments below…