Our nation’s electrical grid is a lot like your favorite grandma. She’s always been there for you, whether you recognized her value or not. She has worked day and night to make your life better, providing warmth, and hot meals. But sadly, it’s time to face the bitter truth. Both grandma and the electrical grid are getting old. They are both made up of aging parts and systems. They are overworked, worn, and vulnerable to many different threats. Now I can’t speak to your grandma’s health (which is excellent, I hope), but I can speak about the power grid. It’s unimaginably complex, and with that complexity comes vulnerability. It’s only a matter of time before a large chunk of “the grid” goes offline for days or weeks (or even longer). As individuals, we can’t control whether the grid goes down locally from a severe storm or whether it goes down nationally from a cyberattack; but what we CAN control is our reaction to this threat and how we behave during the actual event. Planning and preparedness are your best solutions to the threat of a major blackout, and the time to get dead-ass serious about your preparedness is right now.
Create A Plan
Luckily for those of us with interest in preparedness, our “blackout plan” will look a lot like our earthquake plan and all of our other disaster plans. In the event of a prolonged power outage, we’d need to be able to provide for all of our basic needs. We would hope that these needs can be met in the relative comfort and familiarity of our own homes, but our plan should also allow for some kind of exodus (just in case things get ugly). For example, one “knock-on” effect of a blackout would be crime. A higher population means higher crime, so bugging out of the city or suburbs should be a facet of your plan. Here are seven things to include in your blackout emergency plan.
Assess Your Needs Get out some paper and make a list of all of the things in your life that would be impacted by a blackout. It’s a lot of things for most people. Cooking, heating, cooling, light, food refrigeration, and communication are just a few. For example, three-quarters of Americans get their water from a well on their own property (an electrically powered well). When the power goes out, the water stops flowing. This is just one of the things you’ll have to supply for yourself.
Build A Team No one can do it all, and stand guard over the homestead 24/7. Find out which of your like-minded friends has complementary skills and see how they’d feel about working together. You don’t all have to live under one roof during a blackout, but it’s great if your team members live close.
Create A Communication Plan Getting your news during a blackout may be as simple as turning on the battery-powered radio. Then again, it may not. Determine which ways you can get information from the outside and how you can communicate back and forth with your family/team.
Assemble Your Supplies You can’t put a puzzle together if you are missing a bunch of pieces. Get the gear and supplies you need and organize them in a safe place in your home (or bug-out location) – before the lights go out!
Plan For A Bug Out We’ve provided a huge amount of bug-out content at Survival Dispatch, so review this material and get your gear ready for a sudden exodus.
Determine Your Resupply Options Consider how you’ll replace things as they run out and get the skills and supplies to make it happen. This could be hunting and fishing to put protein on the table. It could be gardening and foraging for plant foods. These all work best when you have the experience and the right supplies to make it happen. By the way, how will you get that water out of your well when the power goes out? Hint – Google “LEHMAN’S OWN GALVANIZED WELL BUCKET,” and you’ll see one option.
Test The Plan You won’t know if your plan is a good one until you test it out. Don’t wait until you’re in an actual crisis to figure out that you’re missing something, or you made a miscalculation.
The last thing on our list was a test, and here it is. Flip off the main breaker in your home’s electrical panel and go for a day or two without the warm glow of electricity. These “grid down” weekends don’t need to be scary, especially if you have kids or other family members who aren’t on board with preparedness. Once the breaker goes off, see if each family member can act as a useful member of the team (or at least avoid being a liability). Can you keep the kids from opening the fridge every five minutes (and letting out the remaining cold air)? Can you recharge your devices when they run out of power? There a million little things you’ll learn during a test, and while these may be annoying at the time, there’s no better time to discover the flaws and gaps in your plan.
Extra Hazards During a Blackout
Looting and pillaging aren’t your only physical threats during a blackout. There are other hazards that come with power outages, and we need to keep these extra threats in mind.
Cooking Fires The number one reason for home fires (under normal conditions) is cooking, so we should always take extra care when cooking under challenging conditions. With the power out, you may be forced to cook with camp stoves and other alternative heat sources. Always do this outside, and take extra care in the storage and dispensing of fuel. Never turn your back on your cooking activities. At best, something will boil over or burn. At worst, you just lit your house and the whole neighborhood on fire.
Other fires The fifth most common cause of house fires is the humble candle. With the lights out, you can expect more than a few candles to be lit in your neighborhood. Yes, candles look great, and some even smell nice, but each one represents a threat. Instead of burning candles, focus on battery-powered lighting to reduce your chance of fires. You are also at risk for fire (and horrible injury) when you try to refuel hot generator engines. No one in your household will want the generator to go down, but you should let it cool for 15 minutes before you attempt a refuel. Why is this so dangerous? If you splash gasoline on a scorching hot muffler or bare electrical wiring, or an unfortunately timed back-fire occurs, you’re going to be on fire. Going 15 minutes without power won’t kill anyone in your household, but slopping gas all over your hot generator could kill you!
Carbon monoxide This sneaky substance forms when you have combustion occurring in an enclosed space. Don’t run your generator in your garage or drag the hamburger grill indoors for winter heat. Carbon monoxide can kill.