Having an “If Found” Note

I’m just 1 person who wants to make things easy for emergency responders. Because I live alone, if I’m in a situation where I’m found incapacitated, unconscious, or dead, there is no present to speak for me (and I cannot count on my cats to do so).  

A few years ago, I read Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone by Eric Klinenberg. The book was not what I hoped for and did not show the appeal of living alone so much as the fact that I’m apparently destined to wind up alone and unsupported in a nursing home. But there was an interesting section about the people whose job it is to locate next of kin and legal documents when a single person is found an unable to communicate their wishes. One person with that job noted that sometimes there would be a note on the door or the bedside dresser with important information that would help them out immensely. Other times, it would take them days to sort through offices, electronic devices (because who keeps a physical address book these days?), etc. looking for something useful.

I’d been thinking about writing up such a note since reading the book in 2018, and the pandemic hitting was the excuse I needed to finally do it. My “If Found” note is in a clear page protector, posted on the inside of my front door. It is five pages long and includes the following:

  • A bold title at the top reading: If I am found incapacitated, unconscious, or dead
  • A quick overview of me: my full name, date of birth, place of birth, allergies to medications, current known medical conditions, current medicines I take, my car including license plate, my cell phone number, one sentence about who I am as a person and what I care about
  • Names and contact information of close family members and their relationship to me
  • Names and contact information of my closest friends
  • Names and contact information of extended family, in the event that no one local can be reached
  • Information about my workplaces (including volunteer jobs) in case those need to be contacted or in case I am found at one of those locations
  • Information about my physicians, pharmacy, dentist, and allergist in case records need to be pulled or these individuals need to be contacted to provide additional consultations
  • Information about my church, in case they need to know my denomination and any treatment or funeral wishes related to it
  • Three sheets of information regarding my cats including large, color photos of each cat for identification, medical situations and known allergies, care and feeding schedule, and where they are most likely to be found in my house if hiding. These sheets also include the names and contact information of people I know who could care for my cats. 

My “If Found” note purposefully does not include:

  • Legal documents, ID cards, my will, bank statements, etc.
  • The location in my house of valuables or important documents; if a burglar finds the note, I do not want to provide a road map to these things. However, I have told my family members and several close friends the location where I keep those items.
  • Personal sentiments or messages for my family or friends; I keep these elsewhere as well and wanted this note to include mostly factual, useful information that responders might need.

I’m a Hufflepuff, so I suppose it’s really no surprise that even in the unfortunate event of my death, I want to be as helpful as possible. But, obviously, I would prefer that if this note is used at all, it would be as a guide for those in a position to offer me aid. Knowing I have it in place gives me some peace of mind, especially regarding my pets. Now I just need to remember to keep it updated as things change and shift in my life.

Do you have an “If Found” note? Would you consider having one?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.