What To Do When The Power Grid Goes Down

We take electricity for granted on a daily basis. In fact, the mere sounds of the refrigerator humming along and the ceiling fan whirling above are just white noise, things in modern life we’re so used to that they don’t even register anymore.

They will always be there— that is until they’re not. We’ve experienced issues with the grid before, simple short-term power outages while they maintain the lines that leave us utterly useless and adrift. No Internet, no TV, no AC, no charging any devices, and once the sun dips below the horizon, you’ll find out just how black the night can be.

Most times, you’ll have no way of knowing when it happens—a million questions spring to mind when the power grid goes down. When will the power come back on? Two days? Seven days? A month? Never? Are you ready? Are you prepared for a long-term power outage situation? You’d better be.

Our fragile power grid

our fragile power grid

Despite the might of our modern civilization, the country’s power grid is fairly a fragile thing and obsolete in terms of technology upgrades and investment in most parts of this country.

Some folks believe that there’s nothing to worry about, and someone will fix it if it breaks down. However, it doesn’t take much effort to bring the whole thing crashing down regardless of whether we’re talking about a natural disaster or a man-made attempt.

Threats like a malicious cyber-attack, the rise in fuel costs, and the simple overloading of the system due to the increased population can bring the entire grid down in seconds. And the problem is that a  massive power outage could take weeks or months to restore.

The affected regions would be plunged into chaos, and everyone will have to make do with what they have. The first few days will probably be the most difficult, not from a survival standpoint—you should have that covered—but psychologically.

Without any notification from the utility company or local government about the situation (maybe they’ve got bigger issues to deal with), you’re going to be cut off from the rest of the world beyond your neighborhood. The unknown is always scary. The first order of business is to check how widespread the outage is.

You shouldn’t panic, and you should make sure the problem is not local. Maybe it’s just a matter of having your main circuit tripped. How about your neighbors? Is their power out too, or is it just your household?

Take a look out the window and check the streetlight. Dark streetlights are usually a good indication that your whole area has been affected by an outage.


With the power out, businesses that have alternate backup power supplies, such as government installations, hospitals, and other utilities, will continue to function on a limited basis. The rest—banks, gas stations, grocery stores, and many other places—might simply close their doors if they’re unable to transact business without computers.

Unless you have cash, you may be out of luck. If that’s the case, it is a good idea now—while the lights are still on—to organize your gear and preparations in case you are left without power for a sustained period of time.

Preparations for when the power grid goes down


no tap water

Water is key to every aspect of survival regardless of what crisis scenario you may have to face. Without water, your life is on the clock. In order to hunker down as long as possible and remain well hydrated, you should have a large supply of water. Your best bet would be to have 1- 1 ½ gallon of water per inhabitant per day.

Now, this doesn’t mean that you should start buying cases of water and trying to stash them wherever you can. Even if this may work for those not living on a budget, how about storing tap water? You can fill whatever bottle and container are available and store it wherever you can find space.

If you are home and the power grid goes down, you have to move quickly and stop the drains of every bathtub and sink you have in your home. Now turn on the tap, and hopefully, you will be able to fill them with water before the tap runs dry.

Try to collect as much water as possible before the water stops flowing because that water will come in handy when you have to take care of your personal hygiene.

Now, we talked about how you can collect rainwater and use other hidden water sources in your home on various occasions. Some will hope for rain while others will use the water hidden in their water heather.

Some will string tarps across the balcony on lay them out on the patio, hoping to collect rain runoff in buckets or other containers, while others will take advantage of the neighbors’ pool while they are out of town.

It’s all about thinking creatively and getting every last drop of water you can find available. For some, finding water will be a piece of cake, while others will have to really go that extra mile to fill up a canteen. However, one thing is certain; regardless of where your water comes home, make sure you have a water filter or the means to purify the water.

Light And Electricity:

no power, no light

In the last decade or so, more and more households have invested in a small generator (or two), hoping that it will provide them with electricity for some lights, their phone, a radio, their laptop, and overall to have a charging option for flashlights or other essential devices.

As preppers, we have to think about backups, and we always put the worst first. That being said, how about besides your power generator that requires fuel, you get something that uses renewable energy, like a solar panel kit?

The advancements in solar power technology have made solar power kits incredibly effective and very accessible. They can now power an entire house (or most of it), and you won’t have to break the bank to get one.

Other folks will keep close by a 1,000-watt inverter to connect to their car battery so that they can run or charge small appliances when the power grid goes down. The old-timers will have an old-fashioned gas/mantle lantern in reach, but they shouldn’t forget about storing plenty of propane and extra mantles.

And those that like to keep busy and in shape will get a hand-cranked-powered lantern or a pedal power generator that can be used to charge pretty much anything you can think of.

It’s all about available options, budget, mindset, and creativity when trying to keep the lights on when the power grid goes down.

Don’t waste the food in your fridge

spoiled food

A lot of food goes to waste when the power grid goes down because folks don’t know how to preserve or cook it right.

How about filling a dozen or so plastic bottles with water and storing them in your freezer at all times? You could use that stored bottled water during torrid summer days, or you can use it as ice packs in your fridge when the power grid goes down. Not only will you keep your food cooler for longer, but you will also have fresh, cool water to drink once the ice melts.

Now, if you have one of the power generators we mentioned earlier, you should have no worries about your food spoiling since you can use the generator to power up the fridge. You can run it sparingly to make sure the temperature in the fridge is kept below 40 degrees.

For your other food preparations, once again, it is mainly a matter of creativity. You can store freeze-dried foods which has a longer shelf life. Or perhaps you can have a cache of canned goods such as beans, meat, fruits, condensed milk, and anything else that you eat. Not only will they last for a long time, but these foods are easy to prepare, requiring little to no resources at all.

As for cooking the food that may spoil or just to prepare a hot meal to improve your family’s morale, you could fire up the barbecue or, better yet, invest in a wood-burning stove that can help you cook almost any food you can think of. Once again, remember to have plenty of fuel available.

If you have this cover, now you just have to check the temperature of your fridge and freezer, and anything that you won’t eat that day should be cooked must be cooked and stored for later use. If things start to get heated in your freezer, rather than throwing stuff away, use the frozen peas and other packaged items like ice packs in your fridge. Once they thaw, the foods can be cooked, and you will be covered for the next few days.

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Keeping it all safe

When the power grid goes down, there will be a few days when people will try to figure out what’s going on, how long it will last, and if the end is near. Now, you being a house with power, may be seen as a beacon of hope in the eyes of the desperate and unprepared.

They will rightfully assume that you also have all sorts of supplies to last whatever comes because you have power. This opens a new set of dangerous scenarios you have to plan for. Before you grab your rifle and start shooting whoever gets too close, how about keeping a low profile?

The easiest way to win a confrontation si by preventing one from happening in the first place.  You can do so by not advertising what you have, and the first thing you have to do is make sure you don’t light up your home like it’s Christmas. Try to use only flashlights or lamps at night, and block your windows using heavy blankets or any other means available to prevent light from escaping the room.

And in case you’re not good at keeping a low profile, skills used in protecting your perimeter will be helpful here. Try to make your house or apartment look like it’s just another victim of the blackout to deter thieves from investigating it. If you stand outside with your neighbors, complaining about the situation like the rest, those that planned on taking advantage of your stash might just overlook it.

How about that weather?

blizzaard in the city

Without power, the outside temperature will play an important role in your comfort level and will affect the quality of life, or worse. If it is too hot outside, try to go underground, to the lowest level in your home.

A basement will help you to stay cool, or if you don’t have a basement, find an interior room away from outside walls and use a ventilator to move the air around. Also, wear light, airy clothing and drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and to make sure your body can properly regulate its temperature.

Now, if it is cold outside, the first thing you have to do is layer up and use clothing appropriate for the weather you’re facing. Close every blind and gather in a small room, preferably in the southwest area of the house where the sun will hit it the most. Even more, use blankets and cardboard to insulate the walls and trap heat inside that room.


Preparing for when the power goes out and having electricity when the neighborhood goes dark is just as important as knowing how to use what you’ve got without putting yourself at risk. You are a survivor with the knowledge and proper gear to withstand nearly anything, so make sure you do just that, survive!

Suggested resources for prepper and survivalists:

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2 thoughts on “What To Do When The Power Grid Goes Down”

  1. We’re at the end of a branch and also on the border with adjacent power company. Our power could be off while neighbors across the street have power. I installed a generator interlock in the circuit breaker box with a generator connection outside. I can power the house when commercial power is out. 8 kw generator allows use of lights, refrigeration and small appliances. I can cook with propane or kerosene Not a big issue to lose power.

    • Try turning off the power for a weekend for a dry run, cause you don’t know what you don’t know. Ya might find a few holes in your plan.


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