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Tips on Getting a Medical Alert Tattoo

Tips on Getting a Medical Alert Tattoo

As body art becomes more common and widely accepted, more and more people are starting to look at using tattoos to convey important health information in the event of an emergency. These tattoos serve as a permanent replacement for the traditional alert necklaces or bracelets and carry the advantage that they cannot be lost, get in the way, or fall apart. Most emergency medical professionals aren’t trained to look for alert tattoos yet, though, and the practice is not standardized, so here are some tips on making sure your medical alert tattoo really serves its intended function. Location is key. EMTs look for medical alert jewelry on the wrists and neck, so put the alert tattoo in one of those places. Even the best, clearest alert tattoo will usually be missed if it’s not in the most intuitive of places, and in most emergency situations the EMT’s will not have time to search your whole body for a tattoo.

Design the tattoo for function rather than form. There is a reason medical alert jewelry is very utilitarian; the more it looks like regular jewelry, the more likely it is to be overlooked. The same goes with tattoos; an elegant script or artistic design may make the tattoo look nicer, but it will effectively hide it from those who most need to see it in many emergencies. A simple design displaying a red star of life and the pertinent text (for example, “Penicillin allergy” or “Diabetic”) is the best way to ensure visibility.

The tattoo has to be big and bold enough to be seen. Hiding the design or making it excessively small in order to keep other people from noticing it will mean that emergency technicians may not notice it either. A big, bold tattoo may not be as inconspicuous as a bracelet, but that is the trade off you make for safety and increased convenience. After all, if this tattoo may save your life one day, there is no good reason to hide it.

Keep other tattoos well away from the medical alert. An alert tattoo buried in a full tattoo sleeve may as well not be there at all, and the more body art in the immediate vicinity of the alert the less likely it will be noticed. If your alert tattoo is going on your wrist, a good idea would be to avoid getting any other tattoos below the elbow of that arm.

Once you have gotten your medical alert tattoo, contact your local emergency medical service provider (through non emergency channels) and talk to them about it. Not all EMS providers in all areas are aware of medical alert tattoos yet, and letting the technicians in your area know to be alert for them can be key in making sure they are recognized and respected just like alert jewelry.

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