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November 20, 2007

Vial of Life
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 12:07 PM *

“Life” here stands for Lifesaving Information For Emergencies.

The Vial of Life is a nationwide program. All USA EMTs are trained to look for one. Where we expect to find it: In your refrigerator.

What it is: an info sheet for your friendly local EMTs to use if they come to your house and find you lying on the floor, unable to answer questions about what your medical conditions are, what meds you’re on, what your allergies are, your DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) status, your date of birth, doctor’s address and phone number, and other Helpful Information. A recent photo wouldn’t be a bad idea so we can be sure that the information we’re working from matches the unconscious body on the floor. (Even if you live alone, maybe there’s a guest over. It’s nice to be sure.) Insurance numbers and the usual stuff they’d ask at the hospital at the registration desk if you were capable of answering questions goes on the form too: It’s coming with you.

The big things that need to be there are your name and date of birth (since I can’t start the paperwork without ‘em), your allergies (so I won’t accidentally kill you), and your medical history (since most people come down with HIBGIA: Had It Before, Got It Again). Please write down your medications, please spell them right, and please write neatly. If you don’t speak English I want to know what language to try instead. Typing is a big plus.

If you happen to be a DNR, please put it on the form, and please tell everyone around you. It’s heck going to a house for a little old lady on the floor, where her caretaker doesn’t know what her DNR status is, but maybe her son might, and he lives in another state, and all you get is his answering machine. If you didn’t want to be resuscitated, too late, because we’re already going to be doing it instead of standing around playing phone tag while your brain cells are dying.

The Vial itself can be anything. The usual things are Baggies with papers inside of ‘em, or a large pill bottle with the paper folded up inside of it. Make sure the Vial is labeled “Vial of Life” in big letters. A Star of Life or a red cross on it wouldn’t be a bad idea. Make it stand out.

Some people tape the Vial to the outside of the refrigerator. If you don’t want to do that, put it inside the refrigerator. One of the door racks in the main reefer or the freezer works fine. Some people tape or rubber-band the Vial to the bottom of the top shelf. You then place a sticker or magnet on the outside of the refrigerator directly over the spot inside where the Vial is located.

Put another sticker or magnet on or near your front door, or in a front windowpane, and that’s it. You’re done. Remember to update as necessary.

Some people keep a duplicate in their car’s glove box. If you have a potentially life-threatening condition consider wearing medic-alert jewelry.

How to encode emergency information into your cell phone: Put in a speed-dial link to ICE. That’s for In Case of Emergency. Have it connect to someone who’s a) usually available, and b) knows you and your medical history. Emergency responders do look on cell phones for clues to unconscious people’s contacts, and if they’re labeled “Bobby,” and “Store” they aren’t as helpful as they might be. “Home” may just ring and ring, because you’re lying there in the hospital and can’t come to the phone. (Important safety tip: If you have your cell phone set to “vibrate” and if that cell phone somehow gets lodged in your nether passageway such that a visit to the emergency room is required to retrieve it, do not give that number to the ER staff as your contact number. Just sayin’.)

Links to stickers, magnets, and suggested forms below the cut.

Copyright © 2007 by James D. Macdonald

I am not a physician. I can neither diagnose nor prescribe. These posts are presented for entertainment purposes only. Nothing here is meant to be advice for your particular condition or situation.

Creative Commons License
Vial of Life by James D. Macdonald is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License.

(Attribution URL:


Vial of Life Project Free printout labels and forms. Aimed toward seniors

Vial of Life stickers and refrigerator magnets

Vial of Life Printable forms and stickers, geared toward kids.

Vial of Life (Santa Clara County) with a suggested form.


And many more


Comments on Vial of Life:
#1 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2007, 01:15 PM:

Hmm. I wonder if there's anything like this being organised in Oz? There are a few special things you can wear to alert to allergies or conditions, but I don't remember this.

I might point a few meeja types towards those sites and they could have the contacts in the different emergency services to inquire. Perhaps some of them might suggest it would be a good idea to the services.

We do have the ICE (In Case of Emergency) listings suggested for our mobile phone contacts, which I think I saw mentioned here too.

#2 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2007, 01:25 PM:

Just checked 'Star of Life'. Never seen anything like it.

Perhaps if I watched more TV with US shows, it'd show up on the sides of ambulances or fire engines. Are any non-USA fluorospherans familiar with it?

#3 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2007, 01:40 PM:

The Star of Life is trademarked to the US DOT. (1972.)

I don't know that other countries use it.

Perhaps I should add the ICE thing to the main post -- the link from the earlier post has succumbed to Web Rot.

#4 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2007, 02:05 PM:

Anyone know if this is applicable/in use in the UK?

#5 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2007, 02:39 PM:

I don't know if the UK or Oz has anything similar. That might be something that someone can ask their local ambulance squad.

#6 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2007, 03:24 PM:

According to Wikipedia, it's used internationally to represent emergency medical services.

#7 ::: Ian ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2007, 03:32 PM:

The scheme in the UK is organized principally by the British Lions and is called "Message in a Bottle". Details here:

Another piece of information to add if you're "rolling your own" form - prostheses, any prosthesis e.g. contact lenses, false teeth as well as things that are more obviously prosthetic like a hook and a wooden leg. The parrot and bandana would be heavy clues to the latter.

#8 ::: beth meacham ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2007, 03:39 PM:

Personally, I wear a Medic-Alert bracelet at all times. I'm far more likely to be found unconscious in a hotel room, airport, or office building than at home. I keep the info on file updated regularly, too.

If you travel a lot, and have any kind of health problem, I highly recommend the Medic-Alert system. They give you an ID number, and keep your medical history, doctors, contacts, name and address, everything, on file. Any medical professional can call them up with the ID number, and find out who they've got, and what they need to know.

#9 ::: MotherFury ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2007, 03:46 PM:

Can I offer an updated/suggestion on the ICE thing? In my cell phone contacts list, I added ! to my 3 ICE contacts, which pushed them to the top of my contact list, and added relationship. Ex.

!ICE Husband Tom
!ICE Son Bill
!ICE Son Jake

That way, they are easy to find on long lists, and at least the person calling will know who they are talking to. This also worked out in prioritizing the list (husband first, etc) for me.

#10 ::: Dori ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2007, 04:05 PM:

Tangential to the above, and possibly a request for a future post...

I've lived in California my entire life, and I've never (yet, and thankfully!) needed a go-bag. What I have needed is an "I've called 911 and the EMTs are on their way; what should I pack for you to take to the hospital?" list.

Assuming that you're not the person in need and that the person in need doesn't need your full attention, what do you bring along? At that point, it would be useful for me to have a printed list, because packing is not the top-most thing on my mind right then.

Offhand, here's mine:

  • wallet (with insurance card)
  • cell phone (with family numbers + doctors names and numbers already entered)
  • all prescription drugs currently being taken (just pack the entire bottle)
  • iPod + headphones
  • reading material (Analog/Asimovs works well for this)
  • bag that's large enough to carry the clothes that are coming off

If I know he'll be admitted and staying at least overnight:

  • BiPap and battery (yes, this is my-husband-centric; feel free to put your own SO's needs here)
  • slippers and/or shower sandals
  • sweat shirt and sweat pants (even if they're just to wear home)
  • closed drinking mug with straw
  • earplugs
  • eyeshades

What else ought to be on here?

#11 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2007, 04:17 PM:

Dori @10:


  • Pen and paper

  • Phone numbers not on cell phone, if your hospital has no-phone zones.

Less seriously?
I'm sure Jim would recommend a whistle.

#12 ::: RichM ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2007, 04:23 PM:

Don't know about Great Britain, Australia, or New Zealand, but in Middle-Earth I am quite sure that it goes by the name Phial of Life.

#13 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2007, 04:51 PM:


Important safety tip: If you have your cell phone set to “vibrate” and if that cell phone somehow gets lodged in your nether passageway such that a visit to the emergency room is required to retrieve it, do not give that number to the ER staff as your contact number. Just sayin’.

Please tell me this isn't based on personal experience. Please. I want to retain some shreds of respect for people as a whole.


#14 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2007, 05:00 PM:

Abi @ 13... And those roaming charges are a real killer.

#15 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2007, 05:09 PM:

Please tell me this isn't based on personal experience.

Abi, I have never personally misused a cellphone (or any other object -- perv I may be, but there are limits) in that manner.

Second only to the stories of how an unlikely object became lodged in an unfortunate orifice are the stories of exactly how a gentleman got a fractured penis, particularly the ones he tells his wife.


For the list of things to take to the hospital, I presume you're thinking of things to take for yourself. Grab your evacuation/deployment bag. The spouse will gave everything he needs provided, including the big mug of ice water with straw, if ice water is on his allowance list.

You might add a spare pair of pants and shirt, because bad things can happen to clothes in an emergency room. They have their own bags to put the pieces in, and will cheerfully give 'em to you.

#16 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2007, 05:13 PM:

Jim @15:
I never pictured you on the table with the phone up his whatsis. I was wondering if you were beside the table, perhaps on the other end of an increasingly strange ringtone.

#17 ::: Dori ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2007, 05:53 PM:

I presume you're thinking of things to take for yourself

Nah, this is all stuff for the patient. There's a lot of hurry up and wait involved in hospital visits (even those that start with an ambulance) in my experience and I think it's handy to have distractions like music and reading material available to him.

The spouse will gave everything he needs provided, including the big mug of ice water with straw, if ice water is on his allowance list.

Sadly, no. Well, at least not the last time he was admitted. He was allowed ice water, and the nurses were fine with bringing it to him in small cups and helping him drink it--when they had the time. However, the big cups they had were too heavy for him to drink on his own (septic shock left him extremely weak), and they didn't have any alternatives.

I went digging in a cabinet at home and found an old thermos mug with a lid, handle, and plastic straw from a previous hospital visit. Every nurse who came in the room looked at it with envy and reminisced about how they used to have those, pre-cutbacks.

If I filled it half-full with ice water, he could just barely hold it, and it helped keep him hydrated. I think the nurses appreciated that they didn't need to wonder every time his buzzer sounded if he was just thirsty or if it was something more urgent.

#18 ::: Daniel Martin ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2007, 05:58 PM:

Newer LG phones come with a special contact built-in with the name "In Case of Emergency".

This is different from regular contacts in that:
1) You add other contacts to it, rather than adding phone numbers directly (up to 3), and you can attach a note that is automatically labeled "Personal Info".
2) Its symbol in the contacts list is a red cross on a white background.
3) Its name is in red, (as opposed to the usual black) and any contact you add to it also becomes red.

I think it's the kind of idea that seems like a good one at first, but really just means that the ICE contact on newer LG phones is going to look slightly different and be in a slightly different spot in the contacts list from the ICE contact on other phones, which reduces its usefulness.

#19 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2007, 06:19 PM:

and from this date forward, abi thought of it as the "Vile of Life", and delicately shuddered the next few times she heard someone's mobile vibrate.

#20 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2007, 06:27 PM:

Maybe cell phones should come with a non-retractable string-like antenna.

"In case of emergency, pull antenna."

Abi delicately shuddering yet?

#21 ::: Wicked Child ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2007, 06:46 PM:

Thank you for this information.

How does one get a DNR? I'm young and I'm afraid no one will take me seriously.

Also, what should you do if there isn't anyone "who’s a) usually available, and b) knows you and your medical history" ?

#22 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2007, 06:51 PM:

Wicked Child: Nolo has a pretty basic coverage of the topic. If you want a DNR, contact your doctor or a local hospital, they can set you up with what is legal for where you live. Also consider a medical power of attorney.

You're never too young to plan for the worst.

#23 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2007, 06:59 PM:

For a full house, a small picture of just who each vial is for (taped to the outside) isn't a bad idea either.

abi: Give up on the respect for people. I was a security guard in ERs, the things which we saw/heard/had to deal with.

Let's just say I knew I was jaded when it wasn't what was lost, but the X-rays showed they'd been so eager to play with it they didn't bother to put the batteries in first.

#24 ::: folk on LJ ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2007, 07:06 PM:

Tania @ 20: Groan...

Re: the cellphone thing (ahem): an A&E (ER) doc of my acquaintance makes it very clear to all her friends that items inserted about one's person should have a flared base, so one of those old Motorola bricks would have qualified (and left enough of an antenna outside for ease of use/cell reception).

Talking out of my arse? *drumriff*

#25 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2007, 07:15 PM:

And if you use your cell phone to get news but it winds up you-know-where, do you call then them anews?

#26 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2007, 09:02 PM:

#16 abi:

My very good friend, stay as sweet as you are.

#27 ::: Martin G. ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2007, 02:29 AM:

Just out of curiosity, why the fridge?

#28 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2007, 02:41 AM:

I was going to say "So the EMTs will see it while they're grabbing themselves a snack," but realized I had no idea how seriously I would be taken, so I decided against it.

#29 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2007, 03:17 AM:

Why the fridge?
I have all kinds of stuff stuck on my fridge, and it something that most people have in their homes, so it's a natural place to look. That's my guess.

I must admit, I really like ethan's suggestion of grabbing a snack. I regularly drop off baked goods at the local volunteer station house, so the responders are used to my snacks.

#30 ::: Michael ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2007, 03:28 AM:

There’s also the strategy of directly informing local officials of possible problems.

I recently had to call 911 when my mother collapsed. The officer responding was already somewhat aware of her history from notes in the town’s database. What sorts of medications she’s on, her pharmacist, doctors, prior incidents, who-to-contact & how, all were at hand to the 911 operators.

Now, my parents live in a small extremely wealthy town so this sort of service probably isn’t universal.

Also submitting this sort of information could entail a certain loss of privacy.

However in our case we judged it useful to have it all on record. For others with elderly or high risk folks in their lives this sort of preperatory on-file strategy is worth looking into.

Finally, if you’re going to put together a cache of medical information then do note it in all the places a first responder looking for insight might quickly search. For example a note taped to the back wall of the medicine chest, and a laminated card on the ceiling of the freezer, and a message-in-a-bottle always left on the bedside medicine-tray, etc.

ps In response to why the ‘fridge/freezer? ‘Cause it’s something nearly everyone has, they usually have only one of, it’s trivial to find, it’s not rummaging through anything very private or valuable, and things chucked into the back of it tend to stay there for years anyhow.

Besides, the capers & cocktail onions appreciate the company.

#31 ::: Christian Severin ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2007, 04:13 AM:

@ #28, Martin G.:
I imagine it's because lots of medications need cool storage, and thus the EMTs will look in the fridge for clues to the medical history anyway. Might as well make it easier for them.

*inquiring glance in Jim's direction*

#32 ::: Rymenhild ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2007, 04:27 AM:

Does that mean that the list's actually supposed to be in, rather than on, the refrigerator? I was picturing a list attached to the outside of the door by a magnet, but now I'm not sure.

#33 ::: flowery tops ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2007, 04:31 AM:

The info goes in the fridge, with a sticker or magnet on the outside. I *guess* it's because everyone has a fridge, in a predictable location? Maybe things kept in there are less likely to be lost among other paperworky things, too.

#34 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2007, 05:13 AM:

Re: Michael @31's suggestion about informing local officials of pre-existing problems -- this might also include the first aid team at your place of work, should you have such. There's more than one reason for this; I suspect that one of the epileptics where I worked made sure we knew about him in case he fitted on site and contracted a case of Well-Meaning Bystander Syndrome before we could get to him.

#35 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2007, 08:58 AM:

The fridge because it's easy to find. Outside of the fridge works, inside with the sticker or magnet directly over top of where it's located is more common, as long as it's Clearly Marked. (What's even more common, of course, is "It's somewhere," or "She had this thing, y'know, about two years ago, and, y'know, they gave her something for it.")

When Granny's Med List is in Granny's Med Drawer, where she's keeping every pharmacy receipt since 1928, that's challenging. When Granny's med list is "somewhere" that's even more challenging.

Most people have refrigerators, and you can usually find the kitchen.

#36 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2007, 09:05 AM:

Did you know that the French translation for vial and Phial is fiole? It's pronounced fi-oll, with 'fi' like Fiona, or like Fifi from Montreal.

#37 ::: Vassilissa ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2007, 09:24 AM:

I just googled to check. Apparently Australia does have a Vial of Life programme, or at least some local councils have made noises about it, but it doesn't seem to have taken off at a national level yet.

And I have a vague memory of seeing it mentioned in Tom Reynold's blog 'Random Acts of Reality', unless I'm conflating that with something else; which would mean it exists in the UK too.

#38 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2007, 10:09 AM:

Just to restate the obvious, hospitals need info on the prescriptions, not the medications themselves. Mom brought most of that info with her, but a few necessary details came from a call to the local pharmacy that supplies her various pills. For comatose folks who don't have Vials or nearby daughters, medics responding to an emergency would do well to check bathroom sinks and cabinets for pill bottles as sources of pharmacy, doctor, dosage, etc. And doctors could give the word on allergies.

With regard to the extra medicine for pain in the week after surgery, she may not have deadly allergies but anything with codeine makes her nauseous and she *can't* get this through the nurses' heads even when she tells them flat out. I guess she should have a local doctor write that down in letters of fire, to make an impression on those folks! Luckily, she's improved enough that they don't give her the bad stuff anymore.

She's also going to get one of those Medic Alert thingies to wear when she eventually gets back home.

#39 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2007, 10:48 AM:

#39: I have one chronic perscription, part of which travels with me in a small properly labelled bottle (the pharmacy was happy to make one up for me). It's also useful when I need a refill.

#40 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2007, 12:02 PM:

Please note that if the hospital is going to call the pharmacy to find out your prescriptions, they're going to need your name and date of birth, minimum. Mentioning which pharmacy you go to would be a good idea too.

#41 ::: elizabeth ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2007, 12:23 PM:

I personally have a (probably neurotic) dread fear of something happening to me and none of my loved ones finding out about it. This is actually a nice little bit of pacification for my anxious mind. I promptly filled out a form, printed a sticker, put the whole thing on my fridge in nice plain sight.

I also had never considered the "ICE" contact on the phone - going to do that, as well.

As always, thanks for the excellent info.

#42 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2007, 02:49 PM:

re 40: which means that on the bottle label one writes one's DOB, as all the other data is already recorded there.

#43 ::: Laurie D. T. Mann ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2007, 03:37 PM:

Jim, that's good information (as always). Thanks!

I created a simple Access database for drug information collection a few years ago. A blank version is up at:

Open the drug table and fill in the fields (it's basically self-explanatory).

When done, open the druglist report. Enter your name and date of birth where noted at the top of the report, and save it. When you print it out, it'll look something like this:

I print off a copy whenever I go to any doctor, and I have a copy in my wallet next to my medical card and drivers license.

My handwriting is illegible, so I figure that this helps.

#44 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2007, 05:52 PM:

Jim, my dear, I shall cherish this among the few illusions I have left*.

* not many gross outs** left either. I have young children
** useful today when my colleague got the chewing gum stuck up his nose†
† No, not like that. Critical fail on his combined breathing, running, and chewing gum roll.

#45 ::: Jenett ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2007, 10:27 PM:

Another reason for the fridge -

My mother (now in her 70s, and her closest child is a 3+ hour drive away) got advised to keep a copy of other immediate medical/legal documents in her fridge. (Will, medical wishes, brief medical history, etc.) It doesn't include actual things like bank account numbers, etc. but does include info on who else needs to be contacted (lawyer, doctor info, etc.)

The reason? It's *far* easier to get access to someone's apartment than it is to get access to a safe deposit box, especially if an accident or emergency occurs at night or over a holiday. One of her local friends can get access pretty easily, too, if need be.

The fridge was advised because in case of any kind of emergency - flood, fire, whatever - it's pretty likely to still be there, and still be a usable location for (plastic bagged) papers. She keeps hers in her crisper drawer, which she doesn't otherwise use. Otherwise, anywhere they fit is fine, as long as whoever might need to look knows.

#46 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2007, 10:36 PM:

Jim, I've been showing Mom how to use her first computer, and naturally enough picked Making Light as a place to look, and this article is one of the reasons why. She is really appreciative.

She also has a question. Is it helpful to put a Vial Inside sticker on the front door, a window, or other place on the outside of the home? If so, where?

#47 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2007, 11:18 PM:

I have all of this info on bright pink sheets of paper:

- the inside of the steel door (stuck with magnets)
- the blue visor of my van
- sticking out of my wallet
- in the drawer next to my recliner
- with my meds

I suppose I could put one on the fridge, too.

#48 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2007, 12:53 AM:

Bruce Is it helpful to put a Vial Inside sticker on the front door, a window, or other place on the outside of the home? If so, where?

It's very useful to put a sticker on the outside of your door, or on the doorframe, or in a window beside the door (where someone coming in the front door can see it).

Marilee -- in my state pink is the color for portable DNRs.

#49 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2007, 10:55 AM:

Thanks, Jim, Mom will shop and place accordingly. She adds, "Like a secular mezuzah, eh?"

#50 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2007, 08:49 PM:

Hmmm, I never heard of colors for DNRs. I usually only put one into effect when I'm sick enough to be in the hospital.

The original reason for the bright pink was that the interior of my van is blue, so the sheet sticks out a lot.

#51 ::: Kathi ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2007, 02:03 AM:

I did a brief look for Vial of Life magnets, but haven't found a place to purchase them. This site is set up for seniors --

I think I'll ask at my local fire department, see if the program is here. I'd like the magnet so something would stand out -- my fridge is magnet city, otherwise....

#52 ::: Kathi ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2007, 02:06 AM:


Always read the footnotes to a Making Light post, especially one of Jim's.

Too much sugar and turkey today....

#53 ::: W> H. Heydt ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2007, 04:13 PM:

As regards medications that require being kept cool... For a couple of years, my wife was on a med that had such a requirement. At the same time, we were taking serious look at general disaster planning, what with living in Earthquake Country. The need for refrigeration for meds during a time of expected, extended power outage caused me to add a generator, fuel and related supplies to our full disaster kit.

#54 ::: Dan ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2007, 09:07 PM:

Since they say they're a "charitable non-profit organization", it doesn't make sense that they use, with a .com TLD implying a commercial entity. I notice that also works, so they should advertise that as their primary URL.

#55 ::: Laurel Krahn ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2007, 11:43 AM:

Wow, I'm surprised I've never heard of this before (Vial of Life, putting stuff in fridge) given how much research I did on medical alert bracelets a few years back. And how many ailing relatives I've dealt with. Good to know.

I always try to remind people that if they have sleep apnea, they should wear a medical alert bracelet that notes it or at the very least have a laminated card in their wallet that says so.

When I got my first MedicAlert bracelet just a few years ago, "sleep apnea" wasn't an option you could select for your bracelet and on the default forms so I had to call and request that they put that and the appropriate details on there.

It just seems like most people don't know how important it is to have this noted so one can be closely monitored in certain situations (post-op is particularly dangerous for folks with sleep apnea if the nurses don't know to keep a close watch on them).

In a Vial of Life, you'd want a piece of paper with relevant prescriptions, a note on what pressure setting one uses (and what kind of machine). Might as well also list mask and machine specifics while you're at it.

#56 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2007, 04:25 PM:

They probably use .com because a lot of people who aren't especially net-savvy, if told the organization is named "Example," will just put "example" into the browser. And browsers tend to default to expanding "example" as rather than or (or

Yes, this means that multiple TLDs don't expand the namespace as much as they were meant to, but it's not something Vial of Life can do much about.

Much the same would probably have happened if they had decided that was the appropriate domain, because people will just type in the topic they're interested in, assuming that their browser will automagically take them to the appropriate site.

(This habit bit a small business named Tsunami a couple of years ago. And a heavy metal band a few years before that. Both rolled with it, and the heavy metal band quickly put together a front page full of disease information, and a link to the previous band page in a corner where their fans could find it. The business changed its name; the band didn't.)

#57 ::: Marea Teakle ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2009, 07:21 AM:

I am Vial of Life Director for Quota International 30th District. Vial of Life is registered, and has been going since 1973 in Queensland Australia. At the present time the Vial of Life is distributed free, to the communities in south east Queensland by 16 Quota Clubs at outlet throughout their district. The Vial of Life is also distributed in areas of Victoria. 30th District is now in the process of having Vial of Life extended further afield

#58 ::: John Houghton spots a small container of SPAM ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2009, 07:59 AM:

Vile* spam above.

*This is a lame pun on the content of the post.

#59 ::: John Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2009, 08:06 AM:

And, on further reading, and following the topic of the thread, not actually spam. Just reads like it.

Can I go back to bed and start the day over?

#60 ::: Mez agrees that it's NOT spam ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2009, 09:45 PM:

Agreeing with John², not spam, but useful info for Australians who are finding out about this.

#61 ::: Rania ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2009, 01:38 AM:

Is there something similar in Canada? I could probably find it, but I'm tired and my brain is non-functional.

#62 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2009, 10:15 AM:

Rania@61: Is there something similar in Canada?

Yep, since 2003.

#63 ::: Yarrow ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2009, 01:15 PM:

He was allowed ice water, and the nurses were fine with bringing it to him in small cups and helping him drink it--when they had the time. However, the big cups they had were too heavy for him to drink on his own (septic shock left him extremely weak), and they didn't have any alternatives.

The inside plastic bag of a Camelbak is very useful here. The Camelbak is a backpack-looking gizmo that bicycle riders use to drink from. The bag inside has a long tube with a bite grip on the end -- clamp your teeth down on the grip and suck and you've got water, let go and the water stays in the bag.

In the last years of her life, my partner Marsha had some use of her left arm and hand -- enough to use a computer with various aids, but not enough to guide cup to lips without spilling. Nurses in a nursing home have even less time than nurses in a hospital, so it probably extended her life by some years.

If I recall correctly, we started using it at home, before the nursing home and while it was still possible for Marsha to use a cup, just for convenience's sake.

#64 ::: LMM sees obvious spam. ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2012, 11:33 PM:


#65 ::: judi bola ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2015, 06:17 AM:

hope you make more interesting and creative again and again...

#66 ::: Cadbury Moose spots spam ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2015, 06:50 AM:

Linkspam @ #65

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