I'm an ocean away, but my sinking heart is right there with the parents living my worst nightmare in Manchester, England.

Some are grieving for their children, murdered in an appalling act of terror. Others are frantically searching for teenagers who had been enjoying the thrill of being at a live concert by pop superstar Ariana Grande. For some, it was a first taste of "freedom" as their guardians arrived to shuttle them home.

My first big show was at Madison Square Garden when I was about 16, with an older cousin. It was a thrill to see the Smashing Pumpkins, without a single thought for security or being "vigilant." My only worry that night (a lifetime ago) was what songs were left off the set list.

The reality of today is that when my two young daughters go to their first concerts, I'll be there, in the seat next to them. I will have to go over a quick emergency plan, and stress that if I say we need to go, we go. And, I will probably stress the entire time, about keeping them within plain sight.

For people who say you need to be brave and live "normally." taking extra precaution is the new normal. I cannot imagine the torture of going against my gut and letting my daughter attend a large event without me, only to fall victim to such senseless and evil violence.

To be clear, I am not judging other parents for their choices, nor blaming anyone other than the scum of the earth who carried out this heinous attack on innocent music fans.

As parents, all we can do is listen to our inner voice when making tough calls. Mine is now screaming at me that I will be chaperoning my kids until they fight me about it. At which point I will be hiding two rows back, possibly in disguise, to keep my wits about me instead of stressing over this scary, 'anything could happen' world that we find ourselves.

The NJ Office of Emergency Management has a rundown for disaster planning, and two tips can come in handy when out with the family.

1. Establish a predetermined meeting place. Having a pre-arranged place to meet can save time and minimize confusion. Make sure everyone takes note of which gate you enter from, and where the car is parked or which train you took to get to a show or game.

2. Choose an off-site contact to call, should an emergency occur. Make sure every family member has that person’s contact information. So, if there's a frantic scene, anyone separated from the group can call the same person, whether spouse, older child or sibling.

Proud Jersey Girl Erin Vogt’s first reporting gig involved her Fisher Price tape recorder. As a wife and momma of two kiddies, she firmly believes that life’s too short to drink bad coffee.  A fan of the beach, Dave Grohl and karma, in no particular order.

Follow her on Twitter and on Facebook as ProudJersey.


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