Big Changes To Google+

GooglePlus256-21Big changes afoot at Google.  They just announced that Google+ is being split into two different social media services — Google Streams and Google Photos.  If you’re on Google+ and want to back up the information and photos you have out there — just in case — here’s the way to do it from the Google support page.

To download items from your Google+ profile to your computer, use Google Takeout  (

The tool can be especially helpful if you want to back up your data. What you can download includes:

  • Picasa Web albums and photos
  • Your Google profile
  • Google Contacts
  • Stream

Have a great day and have fun backing up that information of yours!

Laura and Jan

Something New Coming Very Soon

Coffee, check.
Microphone, check.
Spent the morning taping the first of our new videos for ‪The Backup Plan‬ 3.0 our secret new program coming out very, very soon.  So happy to have them done and off to editing…
Oops, guess it’s not a secret any more! ‪



Quick Announcement And A Favor…

Hi Everybody!  

We’re VERY close to finishing our long awaited new book/program The Backup Plan 3.0.  We’ve been working on this for more than a year, but we are just about finished.  The good news is we’ll be releasing it in late February/early March.

This book & program will be entirely focused on ways to safeguard the people you love, the things you love (like photos and home videos) and the information you need, so you can deal with life’s little emergencies large and small.  Think Superstorm Sandy versus a computer meltdown.

But we really need your help!  

Before we finalize everything and send it off to the printer, we need to make sure we’ve covered everything.

That’s where you come in.  

We value your opinion and would love to hear how we can best help you.  Can you take few minutes to answer this super-short survey?  

There’s really only one thing we want to ask you.

If you could learn how to organize, backup or safeguard any two things in your home or in your life, what would they be?

You can answer the question at this link  where you’ll also find a little more detail on The Backup Plan 3.0.


Laura and Jan

9 Ways To Stay Safe While Traveling Abroad

Do the airline check-in clerks greet you by name — in five different cities?  

Here are some of our favorite tips to help and your family, stay safe and secure, no matter where your travels take you -- even if it's only a few miles from your front door.

Does every hotel already have your refrigerator stocked with your favorite snacks and beverages before you arrive?

Then this blog post is for you.

As a writer/producer, one of my favorite things about developing a new movie or television series is the team that comes along with it.  It’s so nice to have people around to handle the little things, whether it’s putting together production schedules or making sure my contacts are synced up to my smartphone.

On the other hand, it’s so easy to get used to having people to handle everything for you, that it’s simple to overlook the things you really do need to do for yourself.  Like set up an ICE Contact on your phone.  Or to make sure that you have everything you need at your fingertips to handle an emergency, whether you’re with your staff or completely alone.

After writing three books that have kept thousands of families and their keepsakes safe and sound, heading up business continuity planning for the Wealth Management department of a Fortune 500 bank and having been through some pretty hairy situations of our own, my writing partner and I have learned one thing. 

You never know when or where you’ll be, when you suddenly need to put all the emergency planning you’ve done into action. 

So here are some of our favorite tips to help and your family, stay safe and secure, no matter where your travels take you — even if it’s only a few miles from your front door.

1.  Pre-program the emergency number for the country you’ll be visiting into your phone before you leave, along with local numbers for your country’s embassy and any other emergency assistance numbers.

2.  Always leave an assistant, a colleague and your spouse (or if he or she is going with you, a close relative) a copy of your itinerary with local contact numbers. Be sure to send updates if that information changes.

3.  Carry two portable chargers for your smartphone and other electronic devices with you at all times, ensuring that one of them is always completely charged.

4.  If you travel around the world frequently for business, you need to have four ICE Contacts on your smartphone. The first should be your spouse or significant other, the second a close relative or friend.  The third contact should be your attorney or business manager and the fourth, a business partner or colleague who can attend to matters if you are temporarily incapacitated or in a location where telecommunications are down.   Name the first two ICE Medical 1 and 2, then name the others ICE Legal and ICE Business.

5.  Scan all of your vital documents, treasured photos (both family and business), keepsakes, awards and anything else that is important to you and place the scans on portable hard drives in at least three secure locations. If you haven’t already done so, place the originals of your vital documents in a waterproof/fireproof location.

6.  Make sure that the members of your immediate family have ICE Contacts on their phones, as well as any electronic devices that they usually carry, such as an iPod Touch or smart watches. If you have an iPhone 6 or iPhone with iOS 8 and Medical ID, make sure that it is filled in as well.  (How To Create An iPhone Medical ID) And if you want to go one step further, they can place a link to a medical history synopsis into the contact, that an emergency physician can use to treat them until a family member arrives on scene.  We have medical history forms on our blog and with our books, if you need them.

7.  Make sure that you have your spouse’s emergency information in your phone and vice versa, in case you ever need it quickly.

8.  If your spouse and children are travelling with you in an unfamiliar country, consider downloading the Find My Friends app. All you have to do is add their smartphones to the app and you’ll be able to see exactly where they are along with directions to their location.

9.  Always give yourself a way out. As much as you appreciate your staff, don’t assume they’ll always be right there to help you deal with an emergency situation.  You got where you are today by strategic thinking and planning, so make sure that you have the tools you need to deal with any situation that arises.

Free ICE My Phone Kit! Learn how to put an ICE Contact on Every phone in just minutes. Free download.

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This is just a fraction of the tools and resources you’ll find in our book “Get Your Stuff Together” now available on for $24.99. Over 200 pages packed with the info you and your family need to keep everything that’s important to you — photos, music, videos, data and keepsakes — safe from life’s little and not so little emergencies.  Pick up your copy today for $24.99 at

iphonebookweblgIn our book “Keep This Book In Your iPhone we’ve squeezed all of the information you need to turn your iPhone, Samsung Galaxy or any other smartphone into a real life saver.  A few minutes with this book, and you’ll know how to stash all of your vital information, backed up photos, family emergency plans and contacts in your phone, where they’ll be at your fingertips, ready to help you through life’s little speed bumps.  Like Superstorm Sandy.   Pick up your copy today for $14.95 at

10 Best Smartphone Apps For Your New Phone


Did you get a new phone for Christmas or Hanukkah? 

All bright and shiny and perfect… 

It might not be gold and diamond encrusted like out little friend to the right, but I bet you didn’t even want to take it out of the box, did you?   

Well if you’ve managed to take it out and get it set up, you probably can’t wait to find some great new apps to go along with it.

Boy did you come to the right place!  We’ve compiled a list of 10 apps that will turn your smartphone into a real genius.  And a few of them might even save your or your family’s lives.

1. Find My Phone (iPhone)/Lookout (Android)

The very first app you should put on your new phone is the one that’s going to protect it – not to mention all your information.  Find My Phone protects your iPhone by helping you locate it if it is ever lost or stolen.  With this app, you can signal your phone to ring so you know where to look for it, or if it is stolen, disable your phone and wipe your information.  Download the free Find my Phone app from the Apple App Store.  Lookout does the same thing for Androids, plus it also acts as anti-virus software for your phone, scanning new apps for malware and periodically scanning all of your apps for potential problems.  You can download Lookout free from the Google Play Store. 

2. Dropbox (iOS/Android)

Dropbox is our favorite online file solution.  Since it works on Apple, Android and PCs you can save files from your computer, tablets or phones to Dropbox to make them available on any of your devices.  But my favorite feature is photo sync.  When you install Dropbox on your phone or tablet it will as you if you want it to send all of the photos you take from your device to your PC.  Say yes!  That way, the instant you take a picture it will fly directly to the Dropbox folder on your computer and you’ll never again have to worry about downloading your smartphone photos to your computer!

3. Find My Friends (versions for iOS and Android)

The Find My Friends app was created to be just that — a quick way to find out where all your friends are hanging out at any given moment.  But it doesn’t just locate your friends.  Activate it on your kid’s and spouse’s phones and you’ll have a quick, powerful emergency locator to use during emergencies or evacuations.  Not only will it show where they are, it also provides street-by-street driving directions to their location.

4. Evernote (iOS/Android)

Part digital notebook, part assistant, Evernote gives you a place to put all of those thoughts, ideas, to do lists, links and pictures that you’re always madly searching for hastily written scraps of paper.  It syncs across all of your computers and devices, so that you always have the latest version of what you’re working on at your fingertips.  You can use it simply as a notepad or as a multi-subject notebook.  And the best part is, it’s fully searchable, to help you find anything you’ve tucked away on Evernote for safekeeping.  Added bonus:  If you’re using the Grab It And Go Sheets and Action Plans from our books, tuck them or links to them into one notebook on Evernote to give yourself immediate access to all the information you need, when you need it.

5. Keynote (iPhone)/PowerPoint (iOS or Android)

Both Apple’s and Microsoft’s presentation software is now available free for mobile devices.  Why is this great news?  Because you can use presentation software for nearly anything.  You can use it to write and send notes to yourself, save a bunch of clippings, screenshots or links from the web, or edit graphics on the run.  You may not know this but both Keynote and PowerPoint are terrific graphic editors.  You can resize, recolor, flip, turn, shadow, reflect or even drop the background color out of a graphic in seconds and resave it, without even opening Photoshop.  Oh and you can also be boring and use either software to put together or show a quick presentation. :-)

6. Hootsuite

The Hootsuite Dashboard gives you a real-time view of all of your social media feeds in one place.  Just connect your Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or other accounts and you can not only see all of your messages and updates in one screen, but you can also write one message that will post to all your accounts at the same time.  Why is this important?  Because in an emergency, Hootsuite is the ultimate mobile command center.  It gives you the ability to send direct messages to all of your family members or friends that will post to all of their feeds simultaneously – whether they’re on Twitter, Facebook or even LinkedIn.  It also gives you a place to monitor any messages that they send to you.  Instead of logging in and out of your social media accounts, you can see everything that’s going on, find out where your family is and how they are, in seconds.

7. Flipbook

Okay, so this isn’t a life-saving app but it sure does save a lot of time.  With Flipbook you can create your own personal magazines.  All you have to do is tell it what subjects or Twitter or Facebook accounts you want to follow and it will aggregate all of those messages, videos or updates into feed that looks and reads just like a magazine.  Instead of having to take time searching for all the information that you need for work or school or even for fun, all you have to do is go to Flipboard and click on whichever “magazine” you want to read.  The ultimate in time-saving apps!

8. Mobile Banking App

If you have an account at a nationwide bank (or larger regional bank) take a few minutes to download their mobile banking app.   Why?  Because it can be a real life saver during an evacuation, emergency or any situation where you’re stranded far from home.   Not only will you be able to locate an ATM or branch office (to save on ATM fees),  but with most mobile banking apps, you can even transfer money from one account to another, check the limits on your credit cards, chat with customer service or even deposit checks into your account, simply by snapping a photo of them.  Now that’s service!

9. Skype (iOS or Android) /Facetime (iPhone)

We included these two apps because sometimes you just need to see a familiar face.  The worst thing about being away from home, or having the people you love in a different location, is feeling disconnected from them.  Whether you’re checking on each other during an emergency, or just need to see each other’s faces, Skype and Facetime are both a wonderful way to connect by cellular service or Wi-Fi, if landlines or cell service are down.  Making sure you have either of these apps on your phone, gives you one more way of communicating, no matter what is happening around you and your kids — even the ones who are away at college.

10. Word (iOS or Android)/Pages (iPhone)/A PDF Reader  

It doesn’t matter how many Action Plans you have, if you’re not able to see them.  Since we spend a lot of our time showing you how to complete your Grab It And Go Sheets and Family Action Plans, we want to make sure you can actually refer to them, even if the only device you have with you is your phone!  So if you have your emergency plans stored on your phone, Dropbox, iCloud or One Drive, make sure you download Word, Pages or a PDF Reader to go along with it.  That way, no matter how many plans you have stored in that phone of yours, you’ll actually be able to read them!

11. Around Me (iOS/Android)

Okay so we went overboard and added one bonus app!  Around Me is a great little app that uses your location to give you a list of the stores, restaurants and resources right around you.  All you have to do is click on bank or cleaners or hospital and Around Me will tell you where they are, whether you’re in your neighborhood or on the other side of the country.


getstuff3dcover - Copy (2)

This is just a fraction of the tools and resources you’ll find in our book “Get Your Stuff Together” now available on for $24.99. Over 200 pages packed with the info you and your family need to keep everything that’s important to you — photos, music, videos, data and keepsakes — safe from life’s little and not so little emergencies.  Pick up your copy today for $24.99 at

iphonebookweblgIn our book “Keep This Book In Your iPhone we’ve squeezed all of the information you need to turn your iPhone, Samsung Galaxy or any other smartphone into a real life saver.  A few minutes with this book, and you’ll know how to stash all of your vital information, backed up photos, family emergency plans and contacts in your phone, where they’ll be at your fingertips, ready to help you through life’s little speed bumps.  Like Superstorm Sandy.   Pick up your copy today for $14.95 at

2014 in Review

Thanks to all of you – our favorite readers – for making this a BANNER year for The Backup Plan Blog with 61,000 views!

And the best part is, we’re just getting started.   Thought we’d share the good news and the fireworks below.

Happy New Year everyone!

Laura and Jan and everyone here at…

The Backup Plan Blog

(The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.)

Here’s an excerpt:

Madison Square Garden can seat 20,000 people for a concert. This blog was viewed about 61,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Madison Square Garden, it would take about 3 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

How To Set Up Your Medical ID & ICE Contact On The iPhone 6

Did you know that your iPhone 6 can save your life?

And it’s not just iPhones but any kind of smartphone, like the Samsung Galaxy, Droid Incredible or Windows Phone.

The secret is letting your phone do the talking for you in an emergency.  And the way to do that, is with ICE.

What is ICE?

During Hurricane Katrina, so many people were injured & separated from their families, that emergency workers came up with the idea of putting an ICE – In Case Of Emergency – contact in their cell phones.  Now, hospitals worldwide check patient’s phones for their ICE contact, to locate their next of kin.   In fact we suggest that everyone should have 2 ICE contacts on his cell phone, just in case the first person is unavailable. 

And now, Apple has made putting an emergency contact on your iPhone 6, 6 plus and iOS 8 even easier, with their new Medical ID.  Medical ID is a part of the Apple Health App.  It not only gives you a place to put your emergency medical information, but it puts a link to that information right on the front of your phone, where it can be viewed by a hospital even if your phone is password locked.  

But there is one catch.  You still need to set up your ICE Contacts – the right way – to make sure that emergency personnel have all of the information they need to treat you with your medical needs in mind and to get the people you love to your bedside, quickly and easily. 

And by the way, if you need instructions for your iPhone 5 click here, or your Samsung Galaxy, click here.

Grab Your Phone & Let’s Get Started

Before you begin, you’ll need to decide who your ICE Contacts will be. 

The first one of course will be your spouse, partner, best friend or close relative.  Someone that you want there with you at the hospital or, if need be, making decisions on your behalf. 

But what if that person is also injured, or is out of town or forgot to charge their phone?  Why not choose one additional person to be an ICE Contact – someone very close to you, who you know will drop everything to race to your side and handle things until your significant other can be reached.

Let’s set up your first ICE Contact.

Touch the Contacts Icon on your iPhone to open up your Contacts.  Click on the plus sign + to add a new contact and touch the Name Field.  Don’t put the name of your contact in this field, only the word ICE.  If you have more than one ICE Contact, just name the first contact ICE1 and the second ICE2.  

Now touch the Company Name Field.  Here is where you put your contact’s name and his or her relationship to you.  For example, John Jones – Husband.  That way a doctor or nurse reading it, will know that this contact is your husband.  

Even if you already have a contact for this person in your phone, set up this ICE Contact separately.  That way you can put the information into it, that needs to be there, along with a special graphic, so that emergency personnel will know that these people are your chosen ICE Contacts, without having to guess. 

There’s a very important reason that we’re setting it up this way, but we’ll get to that in a moment.

Time To Make Your iPhone Do Some Heavy Lifting…

Here’s the basic information you need to include:

♦  Your emergency contact’s main phone number, mobile number and work number.

♦  Email Address & IM, Twitter or Facebook address (these are vital in case you need to send that contact an emergency message or quick update).

♦  Your contact’s schedule if there are specific days that he or she is different locations.

♦  Be sure to include every piece of information you can.   Why?  When people are injured in a regional emergency, like a tornado or an earthquake, not every type of communication will be working.  For instance, after the Japan earthquake, many people were able to reach each other via Twitter or Facebook even though their landlines and Wi-Fi weren’t working.


Like most smartphones, your iPhone lets you change, add or create fields inside the contact, so that you can customize it as much as you like.  In general, all you need to do is touch and hold the name of the field that you want to change.  This will bring up a menu of alternate field names to choose from, including the option to Create A Field and add whatever you need.


Now For Your Medical ID

On your home screen click on the Health App – it’s the one with the heart on it.  This will take you to the Dashboard page of the Health App.  On the bottom right of the screen, you’ll see the Medical ID icon.  Click on it.  

And you’ll be taken to the Medical ID screen.  Click on the red link that says Create Medical ID. 

The most important part of the Medical ID screen is at the top.  It’s the On/Off Switch that shows a link to your emergency information on the home screen of your phone even when it’s password-locked.  Before you do anything else, switch this to the ON position.  It will turn green like the graphic below. 

By the way, none of the information in your Medical ID is shared with any of the other apps on your phone.


Enter All Of Your Information 

Put all the information you possibly can into your Medical ID.  

As you can see it already has fields for your birthdate, medical conditions, allergies, current medications and other information.  There are two sections that you need to pay special attention to – Medical Notes and Add Emergency Contact. 

After you finish filling in the regular fields, use the Notes Section to list anything that didn’t fit into them, like the names and phone numbers of your physicians and healthcare providers and contact information for your Insurance Company.  Just don’t put any sensitive personal information into your Medical ID like your social security number, insurance member ID number or financial information.   

You can also place a link to your Medical History Form in the Notes Section to give emergency personnel to quick access to your medical history until your emergency contact arrives at the hospital. 


Add Your Emergency Contact 

When you click on Medical ID’s Add Emergency Contact button, it will show you a list of your contacts, so you can choose the people you’d like to add to your Medical ID.  That’s why we had you set up your ICE Contacts first.  

Go ahead and click on the button and choose your first ICE Contact.  You can also add a relationship to the contact to let emergency personnel whether the contact is a spouse, parent or a friend.  

If you have additional ICE Contacts (yes we are trying to hammer this point home!) then click on the Add Emergency Contact field again to add as many additional people as you would like.


What About Your Medical History? 

Need more than just a few lines to communicate your medical history? Then create a medical history form and store it to a password protected online folder & place a link to the form into the Notes Section of your Medical ID. This way a doctor can access your, your spouse’s or your kids basic medical history, while you’re  en route to the hospital.   Oh and if you don’t have a form, just download ours by clicking on the link above.


By the way, don’t forget to make emergency cards for your family too.  Download them here, and tuck them into their wallets with their ID, just in case their mobile phones  can’t be accessed after an accident or regional emergency.

Let’s Make Sure No One Misses It!

Make your ICE contacts stand out by using the Add Photo function to upload a graphic like this one.

You can either make your own graphic or we have free ones you can use by downloading our free ICE My Phone Kit.   


What About The Rest of The Family?

Every family has one person who keeps everyone else organized.  And since you’re reading this post, something tells me it’s probably you! 

If that’s the case, it’s up to you to ensure every member of your household not only has ICE Contacts set up on his or her phone, but that everyone’s phone contains all of the contact information for every other family member.  That way you’ll be able to get in touch with each other as quickly as possible in an emergency.

And don’t forget that you can always put an ICE Contact in your family’s iPod Touches or other devices as well.  Just because you don’t have a phone with you while you’re running doesn’t mean you can’t stay safe!

What If Your Phone Is Password Locked?

With Medical ID, there are now two ways for emergency personnel to grab your ICE Contact information even if your iPhone is password locked. 

The first?  Now that you turned your Medical ID on, an emergency link to it now appears on the lock screen/home screen of your phone.   All a hospital has to do is click on that Emergency link, which will open your Health App and Medical ID.  The emergency link will also allow you to make an emergency call without having to stop to unlock your phone first.   

One other way that emergency personnel can locate your ICE Contact is with a little help from Siri. 

Remember we had you put nothing but the word ICE in the Name field of your ICE Contact?  All an Emergency Room has to do is Press and Hold Down the Main Home Key on your phone to access Siri and then say, “Contacts ICE”.   Siri will then display all the information you have saved as ICE.  

If you place any other words in the name field besides ICE, your phone will sort it differently and Siri won’t recognize the contact as ICE. 

And with Medical ID, emergency personnel can also press and hold down the Home Key, then say to Siri, “Health,” which will open the Health App so that they can view your Medical ID.  

Remember, if someone is looking for your ICE Contact, you may be unconscious and unable to communicate medical information for yourself.   In fact, if you do tend to password lock your phone, you should definitely put vital medical information like allergies or chronic illnesses into the Notes Section of your Medical ID as well, just in case the ICE contact is the only contact on your phone that medical personnel can access.

And if you’re a healthcare professional, remember these instructions the next time you encounter an unconscious patient with a locked iPhone.  Press and hold down the main home key to access Siri and say “Contacts ICE”.  You never know.  That one little question might just uncover all of the information you need to save their life!


Turn Your Phone Into A Mobile Command Center

While you’re at it, you can even turn your phone into a Mobile Command Center.  Just store copies of your family’s medical history forms, emergency action plans, checklists and Evacuation Plan, right on your phone  and those of each member of your immediate family.  

And while you have them, don’t forget to put ICE Contacts on their phones as well, including along with each other’s contact information.    That way you can all get in touch with each other quickly in an emergency.   And don’t forget to download our free ICE My Phone Kit and follow the instructions to set up your family’s ICE Contacts, no matter what phone they have.   


Do yourself a favor.  Take five minutes right now to set up your family’s ICE contacts.  That way your family will have all the information they need to stay safe and secure, no matter what the situation.  Talk about peace of mind!


Graphics for the iPhone 6 and Medical ID courtesy of our friends at Best Buy.  We’d like to thank their team of mobile communications experts for all of their help and support.

What’s Next?   Well now that you’re done ICEing your phone, you can…

  • ICE your spouse’s and kid’s phones and iPods.
  • ICE your parents phones.
  • Share this How-To with your friends and family — #ICEmyphone.
  • Make Emergency Wallet Cards (they’re in the download file)
  • Shoot a quick picture or video of you and your family ICEing your phones and share it on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest or You Tube with the hash tag #ICEmyphone. Be sure to watch our social media, because we’ll feature the best ones every month! 

Here are More Amazing Things You Can Do In 5 Minutes Or Less

Create Your Family’s Evacuation Plan

Download and Back Up Your Digital Photos

Keep Your Medical History At Your Fingertips

Save Your Albums & Cassettes As MP3s

Earthquake Proof Your Bedroom

Fill Out Your Kid’s Emergency Contact Card



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This is just a fraction of the tools and resources you’ll find in our latest book “Get Your Stuff Together,” now available on for $24.99. Over 200 pages packed with the info you and your family need to keep everything that’s important to you — photos, music, videos, data and keepsakes — safe from life’s little and not so little emergencies.  Pick up your copy today for $24.99 at

iphonebookweblgIn our book”Keep This Book In Your iPhone ” we’ve squeezed all of the information you need to turn your iPhone, Samsung Galaxy or any other smartphone into a real life saver.  A few minutes with this book, and you’ll know how to stash all of your vital information, backed up photos, family emergency plans and contacts in your phone, where they’ll be at your fingertips, ready to help you through life’s little speed bumps.  Like Superstorm Sandy.   Pick up your copy today for $12.95 at