Everyone has already witnessed power outages from time to time. Whether it is caused by storms, natural disasters or faults, we have all witnessed brief periods without electricity. Most of the time it only causes minor inconveniences and within a short period are back up and running.
Unfortunately many people have faced long periods without power. In modern times, everyday survival is heavily dependent on having a reliable source of power. When or if it fails for long periods of time it can wreak chaos on the world.
Being ill-prepared for such an event can be the difference between life or death.
- 1 8 Items to be Prepared for Grid Down
- 2 What Causes Grid Outages
- 3 What to Do in the Event of a Power Grid Outage
- 4 Tips for Day 1 and 2 in the Grid Down
- 5 Fortify Your Home
- 6 The Must-Have Pantry Items in Grid Down
Without electricity you will instantly lose access to food, communication, money, security, gasoline.
Simply look at the Texas Winter Storms of 2021. This is a prime example of how unprepared the government and people were for such an event.
8 Items to be Prepared for Grid Down
1. Water Supply
In a grid down or widespread outage, there is only a short span of time to gather enough water. The water that comes through your home taps is cleaned and pumped using electricity. This water will eventually become very dirty and unusable.
Fill up all water containers possible. This includes: pools, hot tubs, sinks, tubs, basins, jugs and pitchers. We recommend purchasing water storage containers too.
Here are some great water storage containers.
If this water is to be consumed, DO NOT do it before purifying first. In order to do this you will need water filters.
Our Favorites are: Lifestraw and Berkey
Trying to do anything in the dark is difficult. Ensure you have plenty of backup light sources in your home for grid down.
Light is necessary for sight but also comfort. Consider having light sources for each room.
Some of the common backup light sources include:
Solar powered lights/ lanterns: These are great and can even be outdoor solar lights. Let them charge during the day and then bring them in at night. They produce a lot of light and are not a fire hazard. They are also inexpensive to purchase.
Flashlights are important but run off batteries. We recommend having a number of flashlights and keep a stash of spare batteries. You can also get crank flashlights which will double as a charging source.
LED flashlights are the best option as they use less battery and the light is brighter.
Best LED Flashlight:
Candles: bear in mind this will create a potential fire risk, but candles are good for both light and warmth. Exercise caution if taking this option.
The best way to be prepared with food for a grid down is to prepare your pantry with staple items as well as having survival food kits stored away.
These are long lasting food kits that include months worths of meals that are stored in boxes to be used in emergencies.
Our favorite food survival kits are the:
For a list of the best pantry foods to own keep on reading below!
4. Heat Sources
If it is winter or cold climates, an alternative heating source is essential as everyone will most likely be gathering and sleeping in this room. This will be the room with the fireplace or a wood burning stove.
If you don’t already have one of these in your household, we recommend looking to install one. Do NOT use propane heats as there is a serious risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Our favorite indoor safe heater are the Mr Heater indoor heaters! We recommend owning a few especially if you have a lot of space.
5. Electricity Source
Power can still be obtained even if the grid goes down.
The most obvious choice is to have a backup generator. These are small, portable generators powered by fuels like propane, diesel and gasoline. These are clearly short term options as once you run out of fuel, you’ll run out of power.
Backup portable generators can be purchased in a range of sizes and prices.
Then there are the renewable energy sources such as solar, wind or water generated systems. These are more expensive however.
The most common renewable source is solar panels.
6. Communication Devices
A radio is essential in a grid down. If it is an EMP that caused it, you will be able to get news via EMP hardened stations.
We recommend you purchase the Voyager Radio - for a great long lasting survival radio.
Features include: access to AM, FM, SW1, SW2 signals, weather alerts that activates if there is any critical information
Solar chargers, extra battery packs, or a hand crank USB chargers are good to own to keep your phone alive for as long as possible.
7. Off-Grid Cooking Supplies
If you have a barbecue or camp stoves this is when to break them out. This will provide a short term cooking option before you run out of propane gas.
The EcoZoom Rocket Stove is a must-have. It can be used with wood, charcoal or biomass and produces less harmful emissions.
8. First Aid Supplies
A standard first aid kit is a must-have item.
Then include extras of other medication such as:
- prescription medication
- over the counter medication
What Causes Grid Outages
The main threat to the power grid the Government fears is a large-scale Cyber attack that takes out the US power grid.
The world has a heavy reliance on the internet and the possibility of cyber attacks taking down the power grid is real. This would be unprecedented and cause flow on effects in all areas of life.
Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP)
To put it simply: an EMP is a large burst of electromagnetic radiation
An EMP can be caused by:
detonation of nuclear weapons in the upper atmosphere by adversaries. Basically the higher it is detonated, the greater the area affected is. The range is 30 miles or higher.
These explosions release gamma rays which release electrons from molecules of air. Electrons are moved by the Earth’s magnetic field, creating a large magnetic pulse. This is what produces voltage and current surges that damage electronics.
It would destroy the whole digital circuits and electronics of a large region.
In terms of natural EMP causes, solar flares are just as powerful. Solar flares are not uncommon but huge flares can knock the power out. This happened in Canada in 1989, where a solar flare knocked out the grid in Quebec
This is nothing mankind can do to stop or prepare for a solar flare.
The whole country is powered by 3 Power Grids: the Easter and Western Grids and the Texas grids. One grid failure could lead to another. The grid that fails will be powered by the remaining grids which can overload it and essentially fry it.
The grid is old and not maintained properly. This means that it may not take a catastrophic event to take down the grid.
Consequences of Power Grid Outages
In the event of a wide scale power grid outage, it could potentially take weeks or months to restore.
Here are some of the consequences
- Electrical appliances are all out
- Water faucets will begin to run dry
- ATM’s will stop functioning
- Darkness at night as lights will be off
- Shops will board up
- Banks will close doors
- Gasoline supplies will run out
City water supplies down: pumps will not be able to survive on backup generators forever and will ultimately stop
Food: food stores all rely upon refrigeration
Crime levels will spiral out of control as human’s instincts to survive will kick-in.
People will do whatever it takes to obtain basic provisions for their families. Neighbour will turn on the neighbour to survive.
Moreover, law enforcement will be overstretched and won’t be able to control crime.
This can all happen within 30 days of a grid down.
What to Do in the Event of a Power Grid Outage
1. Initiate Communication with Family
The first thing to do in a power blackout is to try and communicate with your loved ones to ensure they are all safe. Touch base and get them all to come home ASAP.
2. Investigate the Cause
Check to see if it is not a minor event like a circuit trip. Go and find out if your neighbors power is also out too. If it is a minor blackout, you will hear from your power company.
3. Get to the Grocery Store (Not Essential)
Panic buying is real and you want to get there before the hoards. If you are an avid prepper, you will already have a comprehensive food storage kit. This trip should be to only pick up a few bits and pieces.
Remember in an outage, nowhere will be taking credit cards. Keeping cash stores in your home is vital for emergencies like this.
4. Fridge Check
The fridge will be out so you will need to take notes of all the contents you have inside and monitor their shelf-life. Once the temperature inside the fridge ticks above 40F, any meats, seafoods, dairy, poultry and cut up fruit and veggies shelf life will decrease significantly.
Keeping a list and sorting foods accordingly will ensure that you eat these foods accordingly and minimize food wastage.These foods will not last more than a few days.
Also keep an eye on spreads like mayonnaise as these will need to be thrown out after a period.
This is due to the spreading of bacteria that occurs at these temperatures.
5. Water Purification
Firstly, water filtration and water purification are two separate means which should NOT be confused. Water filtration simply removes impurities from water.
It does not remove any viruses from it. If the water may be contaminated, a filter will not make it safe. Water that is contaminated is: any water downstream from farms or plants that can have run-off from fertilisers or any water that animals drink.
Simple water filters are perfect for using to clean particles and impurities out of water.
Chemical purification is another option which is done through water purification tablets. These are made from iodine or chlorine.
We personally love the Berkey Light Water Filtration System
It is a lightweight, portable unit that can hold up to 2.5 gallons of purified water.
It works with no electricity and can use water from many sources. It is also made from BPA free material and is both dent and shatterproof.
The filtration system comes with 2 filters that can purify up to 6000 gallons of water for drinking before they need to be replaced. We always keep a few spare filters just in case.
The spigot allows for easy access and flow for the water.
Tips for Day 1 and 2 in the Grid Down
Owning a solar powered dehydrated food is going to come in handy now. This way you can dehydrate fruits, vegetables and a whole host of other foods to increase your food supply.
If you have a fireplace, wood burning stove or outdoor stoves or fires you will need firewood. Having a chainsaw and axe will make the process easier.
Prep Your Vehicles
If you have an automatic garage, practise using the manual door opener for when power goes down.
Park your vehicles on the driveway facing out to the road, and clear it out of any items.
An empty garage will also be able to be used for storing other important items like firewood.
You will also want to siphon gas from your car.
Siphoning gas is one of the easiest and most useful skills. Once the gasoline supply runs out, it will be one of the most sought after commodities. People will try and steal gasoline that is left inside your vehicle.
This is why you need to siphon it out ASAP and store it in tanks in a locked location.
This is easily done with a siphon pump - which should be in everyone’s survival supplies.
Steps to Siphon Gas:
- Place tank below vehicle
- Insert end of tube into vehicle and the other into the tank - most pumps have designated ends so ensure it is set up correctly.
- Start pumping to siphon gas out as per instructions
- Once your tank/receptacle is full, lift it above the tank. This makes sure all the gasoline left in the tubing drains out and you don’t waste a drop.
People will also come to steal car batteries. Take these out too and store them in a safe place.
Check out this great video which shows you how to do this easily!
Here are some of our top picks for great siphon pumps!
Maintaining Good Hygiene
Keeping up good sanitation practises will stop germs from spreading. Wash your hands where possible
If the Blackout is in Winter
The obvious dangers if grid down in winter is how are you going to keep warm whilst avoiding carbon monoxide poisoning and fires.
The most important step is layering. If you want to learn more about cold weather survival, you can check out our guide here.
Tips for avoiding dangers include installing carbon monoxide detectors and practising safe fire practises. Obviously only start fires indoors if you have a fireplace.
All open fires are kept outdoors. If you have a generator, don’t keep this indoors as fuel can leak indoors.
If Blackout is in Summer
Hydration is so important and you will need to consume roughly a gallon per day to deal with high temperatures. Keep windows open to allow airflow. Stay out of the direct sunlight and try to limit strenuous activity in the heat of the day.
Fortify Your Home
Simple steps that can be taken to fortify your home include boarding up the windows.
- ¾ inch plywood shutters are an affordable and easy starting point.
Fortifying your home for SHTF is a whole topic in itself. To find out the best ways to fortify and secure your home for anything check out our guide here.
The Must-Have Pantry Items in Grid Down
If you already have food storage then this won’t apply to you. If you have never stockpiled foods before, here is a comprehensive starting list as in a grid down you will not be able to purchase food from stores.
- Canned meats and Fish: tuna, chicken etc.
- Canned Vegetables and Fruits
- Grains: wheat, flour
- Freeze Dried Fruits: Can purchase in bulk from a range of online suppliers
- Powered dairy products
- Pasta, rice, noodles
- Canned beans: red, kidney, chickpeas
- Coffee and Tea
- Energy or granola bars
Storing Foods in a Grid Down
The location where you store your food will play a huge part in extending life for as long as possible.
- In direct sunlight
- high/low temperatures
- In poorly ventilated, humid areas
- Wet areas
Ideally you should have a designated, dark, temperature regulated area for storing foods. If this is not possible you can get creative.
You can store canned foods under furniture (sofas,beds) in the rear of closets
Stash the Cash
Anyone who knows a thing or two about prepping understands the importance of keeping a reserve of cash aside for emergencies. In a grid down, the hardest thing to get your hands on is cash. Credit and debit cards will be worthless and you won’t be able to make out cheques either.
Any merchant will only take cash, that is why it is important to keep some aside in a safe.
Other Great Items for Grid Down You Would Never Think Of!
- Rodent traps - sanitation will suffer the longer into the grid down you get. Having rodent traps will be a necessity.
- Insect Spray - likewise, insects thrive in dirty conditions. Insect spray will get your home insect proof for as long as possible.
- Solar Clocks - keeping track of time is still important and can bring some normality in a disaster.
Once all our wrist watches and battery powered clocks die, a solar clock will make sure you still know the time of day.
Forms of Entertainment
These days everyone is preoccupied by electronic screens. Stock up on entertainment that doesn’t require electricity. You will have a lot of time on your hands and breaking out something fun can be a great morale booster.
These can be puzzles, board games, books and magazines, crosswords, sudoku. Various art supplies, musical instruments, sports equipment, knitting