Congratulations! You Are Your Family’s Safety Manager!

by Bruce Montgomery Ph.D. December 05, 2016

Congratulations! You Are Your Family’s Safety Manager!


I’m reading a 2015 book by Ted Koppel called Lights Out about a likely cyberattack on our nation’s power grid that would leave us without electricity for months. Mr. Koppel, who hosted Nightline for many years, warns us:

Imagine a blackout lasting not days, but weeks or months. Tens of millions of people over several states are affected. For those without access to a generator, there is no running water, no sewage, no refrigeration or light. Food and medical supplies are dwindling. Devices we rely on have gone dark. Banks no longer function, looting is widespread, and law and order are being tested as never before.

It isn’t just a scenario. A well-designed attack on just one of the nation’s three electric power grids could cripple much of our infrastructure—and in the age of cyberwarfare, a laptop has become the only necessary weapon. Several nations hostile to the United States could launch such an assault at any time. In fact, as a former chief scientist of the NSA reveals, China and Russia have already penetrated the grid. And a cybersecurity advisor to President Obama believes that independent actors—from “hacktivists” to terrorists—have the capability as well. “It’s not a question of if,” says Centcom Commander General Lloyd Austin, “it’s a question of when.”

What would you do if the power went out – for a day? For two or three days? For a week? For a month?

Even if a cyberattack were to never occur, there are a variety of other threats to our safety and daily living activities for which we should prepare.

Get started this holiday with one simple step.

Designate yourself as the Family Safety Manager! Since you are reading this blog, it is likely that you are one of your family leaders. So, you are now designating yourself as family safety manager. It’s a very important position as it could save the lives of your family members and loved ones. What could be more important?

Your first job as Safety Manager will be to visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website and read Emergency Preparedness and You. Here you will find step-by-step actions you can take before an emergency or natural disaster to protect yourself and your loved ones. The CDC divides emergency preparations into three components:

  1. Prepare Emergency Kits
  2. Make a Family Communication Plan
  3. Learn How to Get Informed and Stay Informed During An Emergency

As you learn how to prepare for emergencies, make a list of action items. Perhaps you can or want to do all the action items yourself, but it often engenders greater participation and buy-in if you can get a few other family members to accept responsibility for some of the tasks on your list.

Prior to the holidays, alert your family members and loved ones that you want to have a meeting with the adults to begin a conversation about preparing for disasters. Make copies of your list and other information from the CDC. When the adults are gathered in the morning during a relatively quiet time, ask them what they would do if there was a tornado? Or a prolonged power outage? Get the conversation started.

As with any leadership position, the Safety Manager is responsible for helping all family members understand why it is important to prepare for emergencies. As a great leader, you will want to delegate action items to your most dependable family members with specific deadlines for completion.

Two pieces of advice:

  1. Keep it simple and write it down. The CDC will help you build your plan and kits but remember to choose one person for all family members to contact in case of an emergency. Choose one location where all family members should meet. Make share everyone knows this information: WHO TO CALL and WHERE TO MEET
  2. Help those who cannot help themselves. Not all family members or loved ones have the same capacity to prepare or respond to an emergency. Give special attention to the needs of the elderly, children, and pets when developing the communication plan and the emergency supply kits.

Once your plan is in place and your supply kit is prepared, then simulate and practice how each family member will respond in case of an emergency. You will not get a chance to practice during an emergency so it is best to try out your plan before an emergency or natural disaster strikes.

I love the public service announcement by on how “not to prepare” for an emergency. Perhaps you can start your family meeting by sharing this video:

Then share this more serious explanation of how to really prepare for emergencies.

Let’s all hope that a cyberattack on our power grid never comes about. But we know that there are other emergencies and natural disasters to contend with. So, let’s get prepared. As your family’s Safety Manager, you will reap the reward of knowing that your loved ones have a plan and supplies to keep them as safe as possible

Bruce Montgomery Ph.D.
Bruce Montgomery Ph.D.


Dr. Bruce Montgomery is a licensed building contractor in Michigan and Florida. He is a Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist as designated by the National Association of Home Builders. He has also achieved an Executive Certificate in Home Modification from the University of Southern California. He has a wide ranging educational background, including a Master of Science degree in Entomology, with a Master of Science degree in Forestry and a Ph.D. in educational administration.