Recent events brought our attention to the need of having essential information on our persons in case of an emergency. One way to accomplish this is to create an emergency information card with a digital photo of the person, to be carried in the wallet.

Photo emergency information card containing life-saving details

Photo emergency information card containing life-saving details

The idea came to me after a friend forwarded a suggestion from the British emergency services to include an ICE entry in all cell phone address books. ICE is short for In Case of Emergency. Personnel responding to an emergency look in cell phones to find contacts of unconscious victims. I thought this was a great idea and made an entry in my phone.

Since I ride motorcycles, it occurred to me that if I were in an accident, my cell phone may shatter and all ICE entries would be scattered on the road, requiring another method of providing emergency information. Hence, the photo emergency card idea was born.

An emergency information card is ideal for:

  • Children
  • Elderly with memory problems
  • Motorcycle riders & participants of other risky activities
  • Anyone with serious medical conditions or allergies

Creating the Card

So many possibilities exist for the card layout and the software to use, that I am providing only general steps. For additional details, see the template offer near the bottom of this page.

Our goal is to create an emergency information card that easily fits into a wallet. A typical credit card is 3-3/8" wide by 2-1/8" tall (3.375" x 2.125"), which will be an ideal size for our card as well.

To create the card, follow these general steps and modify to fit your needs:

  • Decide what you will print the card on. I printed two cards on a single 4x6" glossy photo paper.
  • Select a software package to prepare and crop the photo.
    I used Adobe Photoshop Elements 4.0.
  • Select a software package for laying out and printing the card.
    I used Microsoft Word.
  • Select a photo of the person and crop it to square proportions. The final dimensions of the photo should be 1.35" x 1.35" at 300 pixels per inch.
  • Set up the page for the correct paper size and margins. I used the following settings in Word to print on the 4x6" paper:
    • Paper size: 4 x 6
    • Orientation: Portrait
    • Margins: Top 0.5", Bottom, Left and Right 0.25"
  • Lay out the card. To create a layout like the example on this page:
    • Set the individual card dimensions to 3.375" x 2.125". I used a table with two columns and three rows for the cards.
    • Set the left side width of the card to 1.5", leaving 1.875" for the right side.
    • Insert the photo in the top left corner, sizing it to 1.35" square.
    • Enter the name below the photo.
    • Enter relevant information on the right side of the card.
  • Print the card and trim if necessary.
  • Optionally, laminate the card to make it last longer.

Information to Include

The information on the card will be determined by the person carrying it. In deciding what to include, consider what information is the most important in case the individual becomes unconscious or does not know who they are (as in the elderly with dementia).

To get you started, here is a list of possibilities:

  • Name
  • Emergency contact phone numbers
  • Blood type (if you include it, be certain it is correct)
  • Allergies
  • Medical conditions
  • Medications
  • Organ donor information
  • Birth year (don't include exact date, for privacy reasons)
  • City and state of residence

Safety & Privacy Concerns

Before including any information on the emergency card, weigh its benefit against safety and privacy concerns. The key is to include only necessary information and nothing else. In the case of young children, parents may not want to reveal their first names to protect them from strangers. Consider including only their first initial and last name, or a parent's name instead.

Never include any sensitive or financial information, such as social security number, any account numbers, any passwords—none of these will be necessary in case of an emergency.

Now that you know how to turn a digital photo into an emergency information card, go ahead and create one for the entire family. The information on the card just might save a life.

Free Template Offer

For those of you who would rather not start from scratch, we developed a Microsoft Word template for creating the photo emergency information card.

To use the template, you will need the following:

  • Knowledge of how to download, save, and open ZIP files.
  • A recent version of Microsoft Word installed on your machine.
  • Basic knowledge of how to use Microsoft Word.
  • Digital photo editing software and knowledge on how to use it, for cropping the photo.

* Go to the Template Downloads page »