Updated October 2, 2017
When travelling, what do you take with you to help establish your identity in cases of emergency? But, perhaps more importantly, what do you carry in the event you’re not in a position to speak for yourself? If an unexpected emergency strikes, an emergency ID bracelet for travellers might be the most important item on your packing list.
Like most travellers, I carry emergency contact numbers and identification in my day bag, wallet and phone. But these may not be noticed, or readily accessible to others when they’re most needed. A solution became obvious when I stumbled across RoadID. The company produces bracelets, shoe tags, bar pendants, military-type tags, ankle bracelets and other forms of identification for runners, cyclists and other athletes. I figured this would be useful not only when cycling, but in a variety of travel situations, especially when travelling solo.
Emergency ID bracelet
Faced with so many choices, it was difficult to identify the product that would best serve my needs. The results of a survey of emergency medical professionals by American Medical ID helped:
- more than 95 percent of respondents look for a medical ID during emergencies;
- more than 75 percent look for a medical ID immediately upon assessing a patient;
- 95 percent look at the patient’s wrist to find a medical ID, and 68 percent look for an ID on the patient’s neck.
RoadID offers a selection of wristbands. The Sport has a strap of nylon webbing with a Velcro closure. The Stretch has a silicone band that can be stretched over the hand. The straps on the more stylish and dressier Elite and Elite+ are also silicone. The Elite has a stainless steel clasp while the Elite+ offers a stainless steel clasp or a pin-and-tuck closure.
For my first purchase, I decided on an Elite+ bracelet with a black silicone band and watch-style buckle. Many colours are available but I chose black because it blends nicely with any cycling or non-cycling outfit. I didn’t want to be tempted into removing the bracelet at any time between leaving and returning home.
When I needed an updated information plate, I noticed the Elite had been added to the inventory. That became my second purchase and I couldn’t be more pleased. It’s a fantastic product, and superior to the original version of the Elite+ in so many ways.
Choosing ID information
Each bracelet comes with a removable laser-engraved stainless steel information plate. Removability is a handy feature when updating information. It’s a plus for the pocket and the environment because just the plate needs to be replaced. The plate for the Elite+ accommodates six lines of customizable personal information; the Elite has space for five. Plates are also available for a variety of Apple, Fitbit and Garmin bracelets. In this era of wearable technology, it’s a handy feature given the reality of limited wrist real estate.
Space is at a premium on the information plates. It can be a challenge figuring out the most important information to include. The process is simplified using Road ID’s helpful suggestions in its online ID builder. For my first purchase, I stuck with the basics. I included my name, city, province and country of residence, a couple of ICE (In Case of Emergency) contacts, year of birth, information on known allergies and the fact I’m an organ donor.
Personalization can be enhanced by adding a badge. For those with medical issues, RoadID offers medical alert and diabetic type 1 options.
Keep information updated
After a year of use, I decided to replace the original plate with an updated version more consistent with my needs while travelling.
After listening to Indie Travel Podcast #148: Travel Safety and Security Advice, I decided to update my personal information with my passport number and country of citizenship. The podcast described difficulties in confirming the identity of a person involved in a motor vehicle accident after his belongings had been stolen at the scene. This led to delays in transporting him to another country to obtain better quality medical attention.
In addition, I decided to add the name of my emergency medical insurance administrator and their toll-free number. This was prompted by a report of a Toronto woman who was the victim of a shark attack in Mexico. She suffered delays in a hospital emergency room because of a question as to whether or not she had insurance coverage.
I figured both of these details were more important at the emergency response and early treatment stages than the fact I’m an organ donor. I was able to move my year of birth and “NKA” (no known allergies) to create space for the additional information. As the number of my insurance policy changes from year to year, it’s not included. However, with my name and year of birth, the insurance company can locate my policy and confirm my coverage.
Original and interactive versions
It bears mentioning RoadID offers both “original” and “interactive” ways to record personal details. The original format is static – all personal details are engraved on the information plate. The interactive format displays a limited amount of personal information. It includes RoadID’s toll-free number and website address for access to your online Interactive Road ID (created by you). On the back of the plate are your serial and PIN numbers for access. The interactive plan incurs an annual fee (after the first six months) of $9.99 USD.
A recurring fee isn’t for me, and besides, I suspect that first responders don’t have the time to follow these extra steps in critical situations. I can see where it could be useful at the treatment stage, especially for someone with a complicated medical history, or where information changes on a regular basis.
Wear it for the entire trip
Because the bracelet copes well with both fresh and salt water (and the minerals in thermal springs), there’s no need to remove it at any time during your travels. Unfortunately, this is a shortcoming of combining a RoadID plate with electronic wearables. They aren’t waterproof so a bracelet needs to be removed while showering, swimming or participating in activities around water.
The bracelet is a great conversation starter. People often ask about it, so it’s an ideal opportunity to talk about planning for emergencies while travelling… and the joys of combining cycling and travel.
Why I like the Elite
I ordered a black band and the black information plate and clasp.
- It’s slim and stylish, and less “clunky looking” than the Elite+. As such, it transitions well from an active day to dressier wear.
- With the band, information plate and clasp in black, it doesn’t shout “ID bracelet.” It’s less obtrusive. In fact, it’s been mistaken for a Fitbit.
- It’s light and comfortable, and never in the way.
- As soon I would return home from my travels, I’d return my Elite+ to its tin, ready for the next adventure. It’s been seven months since my last trip and the Elite remains on my wrist. It’s so comfortable, and so handy for times when I’m out cycling, or otherwise without other forms of identification, that I see no reason to remove it.
- The clasp is amazing. It’s comfortable on the wrist and has never failed by releasing unintentionally. Not once.
Besides wearable identification for people and pets, RoadID sells clothing and reflective gear.
Their free app can show up to five selectable contact persons where you are, in real time, with the ability to send out an alert after five minutes of being stationary. The app sends a warning to the user as it nears the five-minute mark in the event the break is intentional and the alert needs to be disabled. This could be useful during solo runs or hikes, or for audience members to track progress during competitions.
I especially like the ability to create a personalized lock screen on my phone to record ICE contacts and other information for emergency response purposes. It’s clean and simple, and has served me well at home and away.
Gimmick or necessity?
Wearing ID bands and tags is an effortless way to have personal identification and medical information readily available in case of emergencies. But, are they a gimmick or a necessity? Read the host of RoadID testimonials from athletes, family members and first responders and decide for yourself.
What do you carry to establish your identity in an emergency situation?
Care to pin?