What Should Be On an Emergency Contact List? 11 Items Explained

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Are you ready for a family emergency? It’s hard to think about emergency situations and how you’ll respond. But as we all know, life is unpredictable and it’s always better to be safe and prepared just in case.

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It’s important for every home to have an emergency contact list with essential names and numbers just in case. In the case of an actual emergency, an emergency contact list could save you time, stress, and even the lives of family members. 

There’s no need to get overwhelmed when creating an emergency contact list. This doesn’t need to be complicated. The key thing is to take that first step to make your list and share it with those you trust. In this guide, we’ll explain what should be on an emergency contact list as well as how to put your list to good use.

What is an Emergency Contact List?

First and foremost, an emergency contact list is a physical list of emergency information. It can be small, including a trusted health care proxy and your doctor’s number. It could also be more complex and in-depth, including vital information for every member of the family. 

Many mistakenly believe you only need doctors’ numbers on an emergency contact list. In reality, this is a place to list anyone who needs to be informed in case of emergency as well as back-up contacts. 

We can’t predict what the future will bring. All we can do today is prepare for the unexpected. While you hope to never need your emergency list, you’ll feel a greater sense of peace knowing it’s ready to go at any moment’s notice. 

Can you have a digital emergency contact list?

In simple terms, yes. You can and should have an emergency contact list that’s digital so it’s easy to share with your loved ones.

That being said, you should also have a physical, printed copy of your emergency contact list somewhere safe in your home. Having a printed copy accounts for any technical problems that could pop up at any moment. Nobody wants to fumble through digital passwords and a drawer full of chargers when they need a vital number. 

A great option is to use cloud storage to keep a copy of your emergency contact template online. This makes it easy to always update and share your list at any point, and you can easily print your list to keep it somewhere safe.

Where to keep your emergency contact list

There is one key factor that needs to be kept in mind when choosing where to keep your emergency contact list. Namely, it needs to be visible. It should be incredibly simple to find and share with others. 

Everyone in your home, including your home’s caretakers (babysitters, house sitters, family, and petsitters), should know exactly where to find this list. Common places to keep it are:

  • On the refrigerator
  • In a drawer in the kitchen
  • Right by the front door
  • Close to the home phone
  • In a home organization binder

Once you’ve chosen where to keep it, share this location with everyone in your house. In an emergency, you want to be able to find this list to be as simple as possible. 

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Items to Put on an Emergency Contact List

Now, let’s discuss what items to put on an emergency contact list. Not all of these will apply to everyone, so it’s essential to determine what’s important for you and your family. 

1. Family physician and hospital

The first name and number on your list should be your family’s doctor and a local hospital. Make sure you know which local hospitals are covered in-network on your insurance, and include this emergency contact number. 

Write your doctor’s full name, office numbers, after-hour office numbers, and non-emergency numbers for other providers. Also, include any non-emergency numbers for the police or ambulance.

2. School contacts

If you have children who are in school, include the main office line, the teacher’s number, and so on. While the school generally reaches out to families in case of emergency, these school contacts should be kept close. 

3. Local contact

Next, include the number for someone close by. This should be someone local who can be called upon quickly if help is needed. This could be a neighbor, friend, landlord, and so on. The key here is that this should be someone located nearby. 

4. Next of kin

Aside from a local contact, consider another relative or next of kin who would need to be informed if there was an emergency. This is someone who could make a decision for you if necessary, and they should be a trusted friend or relative.

They don’t need to live nearby, but you should also include their home address or city.

5. Work contact

A work contact is someone you work with who can get in touch with you while you’re at work or with your supervisor. This could be your boss, a close co-worker, or your work’s business number. 

It’s also worth asking your workplace what they plan is in case of an emergency or if they have a preferred contact number.

6. Additional emergency contacts

If your next of kin can’t be reached, include back-up or additional emergency contacts in your emergency contact list. This could be anyone you trust, whether they live locally or not.

They might be your friends, relatives, neighbors, religious leaders, coworkers, or so on. 

7. Electric and utility companies

It’s important to have the name and number of your electric and utility companies just in case. Emergencies happen sometimes with your home’s electric hookup, gas, etc. and you’ll want to know who to call. These companies typically have an emergency line that can save you time. 

8. Poison control center

As scary as it sounds, contact with toxic materials happens. Just in case someone in your family comes in contact with something questionable, have poison control’s number ready to go so you can seek help if needed.

9. Pet veterinarian and animal hospital

If you have a pet, add your pet’s veterinarian’s number as well as their after-hours contact number. Since most vets are not open at all hours, also include the number for a local 24/7 animal hospital near you. 

10. Health insurance

If you have any insurance coverage, include any numbers for these services. You’ll want information for your state health coverage providers along with your insurance numbers (group number, policy number, etc.) for easy access.

11. Special conditions and medications

Lastly, ensure your emergency contact list also has a list of any special conditions or medications taken by anyone in your family. 

List each by the individual family member. Include allergies, specific medications, and any necessary medical equipment they might need. If you have any pets, ensure their information is added as well. 

Who Should You Share Your Emergency Contact List With?

Who should you share your emergency contact list with specifically? An emergency contact list is only valuable if it’s easy to access. This is why it’s so essential to consider who you’ll share your list with. 

You can share your emergency contact list with anyone who you feel might need it. Most share it with a combination of the following:

  • A trusted friend or family member: The most common person to share your emergency contact list is with a trusted family member or friend, especially one who lives locally. 
  • Kid’s schools: Your children’s schools might request a list of emergency contacts, but you can also provide one on your own. 
  • Workplace: Your workplace also typically requests some type of emergency contact, so you can provide a full list yourself or ask what they need specifically. 
  • Neighbors: It’s also a good idea to share this list with neighbors that you trust since they live close by. 

Share your list with anyone who you feel might need it during an emergency. In addition, if you include anyone’s name and number on your list, make sure they’re aware they could be called upon as an emergency contact.

Copy and Paste Emergency Contact List Template

To simplify this process, here’s a basic emergency contact list template to use yourself. Feel free to add more if needed, but this can be a great place to start:

[Family Name] Emergency Contact List

  • Family doctor name and number:
  • Family doctor after-hours number:
  • Local hospital number:
  • Non-emergency 911 number:
  • School contact for each child:
  • Local contact:
  • Next of kin: 
  • Vet information:
  • Utility companies:
  • Family medications or medical needs:

Prepare for the Unexpected

No matter what tomorrow brings, you can take steps to be ready today. It’s important to give thought to the uncertainty of the future. Whether you’re thinking about advance care planning or you’re ready to create a digital end-of-life plan, an emergency contact list is a must-have first step. 

If you or someone in your family is in an emergency situation, you want your contacts to be easy to find. A contact list ensures you and other first responders have no question about who to call if something does happen. Managing your family’s safety takes a bit of planning, but it’s worth every small effort.

If you're looking for more on emergency contacts, read our guide on how to set emergency contacts on iPhones and how to set emergency contacts on Androids.

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