A massive power outage is a true nightmare and it takes weeks or months to wake up from. The earth has just been hit with a massive geomagnetic solar storm similar to the one from the Carrington Event of 1859. There are no lights, no Internet, no TV, no radio, nothing… Your closest source of light is your cell phone, but its battery will soon die…what then? How will you survive this?
The power grids and communication networks are failing across the country and the power is not coming back on for a long, long time. You and the other million people from your city will have to make do without it.
The Nation’s Power Grid Is Down
We are amazed by what technology can do today in our modern civilization and we continue to invest in all sorts of electronics that make our life easier. In our crazed run after the latest gadgets, we fail to realize that the power grid in most major cities is nothing but a fragile thing. Everything from the thinly strung-out infrastructure of the electrical system to the new and modern smart grid, can be brought down without much effort.
Threats such as a malicious cyber-attack or a simple overloading of the system due to cosmic events are the most real threats for us. Threats that are being analyzed by the NSA and that are being kept under the radar for the general public. These are events that will bring down the grid in seconds and it’s not just a local thing. When the power grid goes down, everyone will experience it, entire states or regions of the country will plunge into darkness. And the worst part is that, it could take months to restore the power, mostly because we are importing a lot of transformers and other valuable parts from China, ironic isn’t it?
When the grid is down, essential businesses such as government operations, hospitals, and other utilities will need to rely on generators for backup power. Those of course, if they have them, but as you probably know most of the police stations have spent their budget on other things.
The bank, gas station and grocery store will rely on generators for a while, but most will simply close their doors, being unable to sell stuff without their precious computers.
Even if they have generators, they will require fuel to work and it won’t be that easy to procure it when things are crumbling. Fuel supplies will be drained in a matter of hours, days at best and once there is no more fuel, panic sets in. When the power grid is down, is the perfect time for some to start looting and get their hands on some items they’ve been wishing for. And I’m not talking here about committing crimes in order to survive, like stealing basic items such as food, water and medicine. There will be those that will practice looting as a sport and for them “owning” a new plasma or game console is more important than getting food. Simple minded folks that don’t think the power could be out for good.
When the power grid is down you also have to think about transportation. If you don’t get out of the city in the first 24 hours, you’re not going anywhere afterwards. Public transportation will be down, your car is like a magnet for those that are desperate to leave the city and walking it out can be dangerous.
You will have to make it with what you have. And what you should have is a well-equipped pantry and emergency items that will keep you sustained for a long period of time.
Don’t panic when the grid is down
This is the number one rule in any disaster scenario, don’t panic. According to many of the scientists that are studying human behavior in today’s social environment, the immediate stillness of a once lively house or city will cause most individuals to panic. You should first make sure that the power outage is not a local thing, check with your neighbors and listen on the radio for news and information. Once you establish that the grid is down and it’s not just a local event, you will have to plan. You need to plan your actions for anything from a few hours to a couple of days at most. If it’s a long-term crisis, you should hear it from the radio. Based on the information you get, you can decide if you say or if you go.
Related reading: Should you stay or should you leave when a disaster strikes?
When the grid is down, all the survival supplies in the world won’t matter if you are too scared or stupid to use them. And that is a fact, people died of thirst in the forest with a river just a few miles away from them. If you know what you are doing and if you know how to use your supplies, you should be able to ride it out.
The grid is down, what about food?
Instinctively, when the grid is down and people think about food, they go to the fridge to check what’s in it. That’s a mistake and you should avoid opening your refrigerator until it is absolutely necessary. You should take a notebook and a pen and make a list of everything you think you have in there. You should definitely ask your wife about this because she most certainly has a mental list with what’s in there and what is missing. Once you know what food is in your fridge you should plan your future meals accordingly. Keep in mind that if the temperature in your fridge rises above 40 degrees F, all the meat poultry and seafood will have a shelf life of only a couple of hours. The same goes for soft cheese, eggs, creamy dressings, milk, sour cream and baby formula. It usually takes 2-3 hours for bacteria to set in and ruin the food. If you have open jars of mayonnaise, jams and jellies, make sure you consume them in time. After eight hours of temperatures of more than 40 degrees, you should discard them.
When the power grid is down you should monitor the temperature of your refrigerator and you should transfer the foods from the freezer to the refrigerator. You can also help your refrigerator by pulling it about two feet away from the wall. This will allow for more air to flow around the heat dissipation coils. Some suggest positioning it so that it faces an open window, but you should do that only if you are apt for it, you should avoid injuring yourself. Another thing you should be doing is to have a dozen of plastic bottles filled with water and placed in the freezer. When the grid is down, those bottles will become ice packs that will keep your fridge cool. Not to mention that they are an extra water supply. If you have a generator you should power up the fridge at regular time intervals to maintain the temperature below 40 degrees.
Having the right food stockpiled will make a huge difference, especially if the grid is down. Freeze-dried foods, canned goods and dehydrated foods will last a very long time and you might handle the situation just fine.
Related article: Foods to hoard for when the power goes out
Having a camp stove or even better, a wood burning stove or fireplace will help you cook most of any food when the grid is down. A solar oven can work just as fine and even better, you can build it yourself using a cardboard box and some tin foil.
The grid is down and the water pumps are dead, what about water?
When the grid is down, the water supply will also be affected. Pumps and valves in your city will stop working and a time race begins. You have a limited amount of time to gather as much water as you can. You can’t bug in and expect to survive without water. Period.
The first thing you need to do is to stop the drains of all your bathtubs and sinks and fill them until the water stops running. Collect as much water as possible, use any container you have in the house and fill it up. Each person needs a gallon a day to keep a good health, so plan accordingly. If you have gutters on your house, you should have a rainwater catching system. If you don’t, put buckets under them in case it rains. String a tarp across your balcony or in your yard to collect rainwater. You should also acknowledge the fact that there are dozens of gallons of water around your house (water heater, toilet’s reservoir tanks, etc.), water that you should collect for later use. Since space is a problem for most people living in the city, you could organize from time and find suitable solutions for your home. Water bricks are ideal for when the grid is down, these are stackable 3.5 gallon containers for storing water. You can use them like Lego bricks and create a nightstand or whatever you want from them. Invest into water plastic bags that can gold up to 100 gallons of water. Teach your children to collect water if a disaster strikes and you are not home.
The grid is down and your old friends, light and power can put you in danger
Certain solar activities can disrupt communication, but other kinds, such as an EMP can completely fry and electronic device. An EMP is not a farfetched scenario and there are even newscasts and reports about the Isis terrorist organization that is trying to acquire and trigger devices that can produce an EMP event on American soil. And unless you have a faraday cage or you’re a handy electrician, your electrical devices will stay toast until you replace them.
Stumbling around in the dark when the grid is down is a major mistake and you should avoid making any mistakes that will harm you. You will have to provide your own sources of electricity and this means that anything that is solar powered or dynamo powered will work in your favor. All the batteries you have should be saved for emergencies and using candles should be avoided. You should also learn how to recondition old batteries to make sure you don’t run out of these small power sources. Candles are a fire hazards and if you have pets or kids you need to pay close attention to them, as they can accidentally start a fire.
Having a fireplace will do wonders, you can light up the room, it can keep you warm and you can use it to cook or boil water.
There are many solutions available out there and you can find anything you want, depending on your budget. I won’t go into details about what type of generators should you buy or what lamp is best for you. Just remember that any portable device that can save your life should be protected and you should consider getting a couple of EMP bags for your devices. They are not expensive and they will keep your gadgets safe.
One major aspect you should consider is that in a city covered by darkness, a white beacon from your house will draw attention. Any individual, who sees it, will be drawn to it like moths to a flame. You should avoid giving away your potions and you should make sure no light leaves your home. Paint your windows black or board them if you have to. Use heavy blankets to black out your windows, a length of tape to keep the light from spilling out under your front door, and don’t forget to block the peephole. You don’t want unexpected guests when the grid is down and it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Other things you should consider for when the grid is down.
Don’t forget about any medicines you and your family might need. Sometimes, even a basic flu can prove disastrous. Have an ample stock of first aid supplies because pharmacies won’t open for you in a time of need. Think about your pets because when the grid is down your pets will need just as much food and water as your family will. Some pets require first aid supplies as well, and the last thing you want is for your pet to get sick during a disaster. You won’t be able to abandon it and it will lower the morale of your kids if it doesn’t get better.
Skills used in protecting your perimeter will be helpful here. If your house or apartment looks like just another victim of the blackout, thieves bent on taking advantage of your stash might just overlook it. Home defense should be a major concern for you, especially if you live in the city.
Related reading: Home Defense at it’s finest
If you go outside, use a flashlight or better yet, get yourself a head lamp. It works like a charm since you point the light in the direction you need and it is very affordable.
If it’s hot outside you should go to the lowest level of your home to stay cool. Wear light, airy clothing and drink plenty of water. If it’s cold outside, layer up your clothing. Gather all your family members in a room, one that is in the area where the sun will hit the most.
If the grid is down, movement is something you have to consider. If you have to drive away make sure you have enough fuel, pay attention to the stop signs and drive slowly. Maintain focus and pay attention to your surroundings.
What comes in must come out and since you will continue to eat, you can’t rely on the toilets. You will need to build a latrine in your yard. Or you can invest in some disposable bio-waste bags to use as a makeshift toilet. Waste disposal is something you should take care of, even if the grid is down.
Having electricity is important for most people, but for you, if you have the knowledge and proper gear to withstand nearly anything, a massive blackout is just a test. If you focus on your immediate safety from threats, if you secure your shelter and if you have enough food of water you will live to see if the power comes back on or if you have to adapt to a new world.
Stay Safe and God Bless!
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