Life-saving ICE

Posted: Updated:
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

Q. A friend of mine told me that a certain entry placed in my cell phone's auto-dialer can be a life-saver in the event of an emergency. It sounded like malarkey. Have you heard of such a thing? If it's true, what is the entry that I'm supposed to enter?

A. What your friend told you is true. In fact, I recently interviewed an emergency room physician who emphasized the importance of a cell phone for first responders in case of a medical emergency.

The most important entry you can place in your cell phone’s memory or auto-dialer is the acronym ICE. This stands for “In Case of Emergency” and should provide the name and telephone number of your primary contact, preferably one familiar with your medical history. It is advisable to include ICE-1, ICE-2, and ICE-3 entries if you have multiple contacts.

The American College of Emergency Physicians encourages every cell-phone user to do this, yet a recent study of 432 emergency room patients found that only 26 had emergency contact information in their cell phones.

“Emergency room staff and paramedics check every patient’s cell phone whenever someone is brought into the E.R. alone or is found alone at the scene of an accident or other medical emergency,” said Dennis McKenna, M.D., medical director of the department of Emergency Medicine at Albany Medical Center in New York.

Please take a few minutes and create an ICE entry for your cell phone, and encourage your loved ones to do the same. If you're feeling benevolent, you can even share this information with people you're not too crazy about. Not only has this helped in cases of emergency, but reports of hundreds of lost cell phones being returned to their owners have resulted from this procedure, as well.

Q. Is it possible to password protect applications on my iPad so other individuals can't use them or certain younger family members can't get into mischief?

A. If you have kids and don't want them to surf the Web without your supervision, you can password-protect apps like Safari or iTunes so that a family member can't purchase every Justin Gaga tune with your beleaguered credit card.

Go to Settings > General > Restrictions, then enable restrictions and enter a password. You can then define which apps and actions will be restricted.

Q. When I delete files from my computer, they don’t show up in the Recycle Bin. How can I fix this problem?

A. When Windows is installed, the default setting sends files to the Recycle Bin when they are deleted. At some point your settings must have been changed, but they’re easy enough to change back if you right-click the Recycle Bin icon on your Desktop and select Properties. Remove the check mark that appears next to “Do not move files to the Recycle Bin. Remove files immediately when deleted.” Click OK to save the new setting.

Mr. Modem's Sites of the Week

Chasing the Frog
It sounds like a video game, but it’s actually a Web site that researches the origins of some of the most popular (and not so popular) Hollywood films. In the True Stories section, you can read about the realities behind movies based on -- well, true stories or based on books.

Handicapped Fraud
This site was launched as a community-service effort to end the misuse of handicapped parking spaces and placards. Police are generally too busy to stake out parking lots to ticket handicapped parking violators, so abusers go largely unpunished. Through this site you can report handicapped parking violators when you observe them.

Mr. Modem publishes the "Ask Mr. Modem!” newsletter each week, featuring PC tips, tricks, and plain-English answers to your questions by email. For more information, visit