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Posted at 08:27 PM ET, 05/04/2011

Is your family prepared for an emergency?

After news of Osama bin Laden’s demise sank in, many parents had an unsettling question: Will this raise the likelihood of retaliation?

The fear echoed on playgrounds and parenting message boards and e-mail lists throu
ghout the Washington area and beyond. No one wants to endure a repeat of that terrifying day nearly 10 years ago. Families especially should have an emergency plan.

I’m not talking about just any plan. We all know that with children, we have a responsibility to be more practical and realistic. I’m the first to admit that I have to shape up. My current plan is so vague that it doesn’t address gridlock and it hinges on electronic communication.

I’m going to change that today. If you don’t have one either, let’s do it together. The D.C. government offers some basicsuggestions on its 72 Hours Web site that are helpful no matter where you live.

For example, you can sign up for messages from the Alert DC system to be sent to your phone or e-mail in cases of emergency. If you’re worried about being spammed, make sure to specify your neighborhood and school district and choose what type of alerts you’re most interested in.

There’s also advice on how to make a family plan and what to put in a “Go Kit.” (Don’t forget to include medications and, if you have an infant, formula or baby food.)

Another good suggestion from the site is asking your child’s school or day-care center for its emergency plan. Many of us don’t think of a basic precaution like that, but imagine if disaster struck: We’d sell our souls to get to our children, but we wouldn’t know where they were.

The American Academy of Pediatrics also has a family readiness kit. I love its smart and simple Four Steps to Prepare Your Family for a Disaster (pdf): Find out what disaster risks are in your area; create a family disaster plan; complete their checklist; practice and maintain your plan.

Check out the Federal Employee’s Family Preparedness Guide (pdf) for another perspective.

If you have a workable emergency plan or come across some must-do ideas, please share them in the comments.

By  |  08:27 PM ET, 05/04/2011

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