It’s vacation time, and many of us are having fun on trips enjoying jeopardizing activities like surfing, boating, zip-lining, hang-gliding, go-karting, rock climbing, and mountain biking. When signing up, there is normally a form that asks you to list an emergency contact. Most of us have someone in mind for this, but sometimes not. As you find yourself filling out emergency contact forms, there are three big considerations to think about before choosing an emergency contact.
First, and this is probably most important, is whether or not that person wants to be on-call in case you are hurt. It is an often overlooked step to ask before putting down a name and number. What can happen is the person named is either not available or does not want to take the responsibility. In these cases, putting down a name was just as good as leaving it blank. Thus, it’s important to ask the person first and make sure you have their preferred contact information.
Second is whether you want that person to be the responsible party in case you are hurt. Sometimes this is as simple as “do I think he/she will respond and act responsibly?” However, it is also good to consider the kinds of decisions you are asking them to make. For example, regardless of what the injured person wanted, parents are unlikely to authorize risky medical decisions or to withdraw life support for their children.
The last tip we have is to make sure your emergency contact has the legal authority to make decisions if needed. Doing an Advanced Health Care Directive with HIPAA authorization and naming the first named agent as your emergency contact is the best solution. These forms can sometimes be available from your Doctor’s office, but will certainly be included in an Attorney drafted comprehensive estate plan. This means the first person called in an emergency will also have the paperwork needed to talk to your Doctor and make medical decisions immediately.