Take a moment, capture the essentials in your life - Tamara Boatwright

Quick, if it were needed by the police could you tell them your license plate number? Could you provide police with a detailed description of your child or spouse and a current, clear photograph?

Think about it. When the Atlanta events were taking place I tried my best to recall a description of my license plate. I even called my husband and asked him what his was. He came up with a few numbers and letters before admitting that he didn't know.

It's the small things, details that we never think we will have to recall that can help if something bad happens. Like license plate numbers, and, believe it or not, detailed descriptions of our children. You look at them every day. You have watched them sleep, bathed them. Yet if something happened you'd be hard pressed to be able to give police a detailed description - you'd be too upset. And don't think you wouldn't. Cops say time and time again that parents go absolutely blank when their child is abducted, gets lost, etc. What about a solid, clear photograph? Not something taken last Christmas next to the tree but a clear, full face photograph. What police refer to as a mug shot.

Here's what a cop buddy of mine suggests. Nearly everyone has a digital camera these days. Take a photo of your child's face. A good, well-lit photo. Weigh your child, record how tall he or she is and write that below the photograph. Also record any identifying marks like scars or birthmarks, then tape that photograph inside a kitchen cabinet. Update it every six months - kids change so fast. Do the same with your car and its license plate.

Then pray you'll never have to refer to any of the information. Chances are you won't but you'll be prepared if something does happen.

While you're at it, take photos of the valuable items in your home. Record their serial numbers or identifying marks and put those photos in a safe place - a copy in your home and one with a family member or trusted friend. Your insurance company will love you for it and recovery from theft or fire will be made just a little easier.

Help a school class in Iowa

On a lighter note, I received a letter from Markis Schones, a 5th grader at West Ridge Elementary School in Harlan, Iowa. His class is studying geography and the history of the United States. He asks that readers send him brochures, souvenirs or information about Georgia.

"Our teacher would love a license plate for the project. Her goal is to get one from every state," he writes.

Why not drop something in the mail to Markis. A map, a key chain, that license plate his teacher wants.

He is in Mrs. Newlin's class, West Ridge Elementary School, 1401 19th St., Harlan, Iowa. 51537. There was a note from his teacher included in his letter so this is on the up-and-up. We're going to gather up some stuff from Clayton and Henry counties and send him. I'll follow up and let you know what the response was.

Tamara Boatwright is managing editor of the News Daily and Daily Herald. She may be reached at (770) 478-5753 ext. 272 or at tboatwright@news-daily.com .