You may assume that a downed power grid would be nothing more than a typical power failure. How bad can it be to live without power for a few days or even a couple of weeks? Well, you must look at the big picture. It wouldn't be just your house without power. It would be your city, the neighboring city and the cities all across the country.
What Happens When the Power Grid Fails?
Check out the following list to see just how a power grid failure would really impact your daily life.
- No gas stations would be functioning, which means no fuel for your car
- Public transportation would be inoperable i.e. trains, buses, taxis and even planes
- Grocery stores would not be open and operable
- Food supply chains would be halted with no fuel to haul goods
- Manufacturing would stop with no electricity to operate machines
- Water sanitation systems would not be functioning, meaning no clean tap water
- Communication systems would be inoperable, no internet, phones, etc...
- Your job would be offline—meaning no work or income
- Banks would be down as would ATMs, the money you have in your pocket is it
As you can see, the world as you know it would grind to a halt. Society would be thrust back in time at least 150 years or so. Functioning without electricity is something many of us would struggle to do simply because it is unfamiliar and we are unequipped to cook meals, clean our homes or even do basic gardening without the things electricity gives us i.e. power tools that require gas or electricity.
Power Grid Failure Plan—Bug Out or Hunker Down
When the power goes off, do you plan to hole up in your house or do you bug out and head for the hills? This is a question you need to seriously think about. The answer will not be the same for everybody.
Ask yourself the following questions to determine if you should bug out.
- Do you have somewhere to bug out to? This may be a cabin in the woods, a friend's house or a secret bunker.
- Can you walk to your bug out location?
- Can every member of your family make the trek?
If you answered yes to all of those questions, then bugging out is an option. However, it isn't always a good idea to bug out. If it is unsafe to be traveling anywhere, you absolutely need to hunker down or shelter in place. Because it is almost impossible to predict what the situation will be like, you need to make plans to do both. If your goal is to hunker down and stay in your home, you will also need to have a bug out plan just in case your home becomes unsafe.
Necessary Supplies to Stock Up On
If your main goal is to bug in, you will want to stock up on some key supplies. If your goal is to bug out, you will want to have at least a 3-day supply of food in your home and the majority of your supplies in your bug out location. The following items will mean the difference between riding out a long term power failure in relative comfort or struggling every minute of the day.
While survival experts will tell you that it is possible to survive without food for 21 days, it isn't something anybody wants to experience if they don't have to. Stocking up on some ready-to-eat foods is the way to go. Your best option is to have food on hand that does not require cooking. It needs to be ready to eat as is or with a little water to re-hydrate it.
The following list are some of the foods you want to start stocking up on.
- Canned meats i.e. tuna, Spam, chicken, corned beef hash
- Canned vegetables—whatever your family eats
- Canned fruit
- Dried beans
- Dried grains i.e. oats, wheat
- Freeze-dried dairy products i.e. milk, butter, cheese
- Canned soups and chili
- Freeze-dried meals—these are quick, easy meals that only require a small amount of water to make ready to eat
- Peanut butter
- Variety of spices
If there are any other foods that you know your family enjoys, it is a good idea to add those to the pantry. Keep in mind, you want foods that will last for years. Buying items that are only good for a few months is a waste of your time and money.
Freeze-dried foods are a good investment. When stored properly, they can last for 10 years or more. This applies to many of your dried beans, rice and grains as well.
Water is a must-have. You can buy commercially bottled water and store it in a cool, dark place for years. If you are going to bottle your own water, it is important you use proper containers. Do not use old milk jugs!
These are acceptable containers you can wash and reuse for water storage.
- Plastic juice bottles
- 2-liter soda bottles
- Ice tea jugs
You only want to use plastics that are thick and not the flimsy plastic gallon jugs milk and some juice products come in.
Before you put your home-bottled water on the shelf, you need to treat it to ensure bacteria doesn't grow. Adding a single drop or two of standard, unscented household bleach will keep your water fresh. Ideally, you should only store home-bottled water on the shelf for 6 months. Date the containers before placing them in your pantry. When they are close to becoming outdated, dump out the water and wash the container with dish soap. Rinse thoroughly and reuse.
For larger quantities of water in a cistern or rain barrel, it is important the vessels are dark and not exposed to direct sunlight. Sunlight sparks algae growth. Water in barrels or cisterns needs to be treated before drinking.
There are some other things you will want to have on hand to deal with a downed power grid. Let's start with some basic necessities.
- Personal hygiene products i.e. shampoo, soap, toilet paper, feminine hygiene items, toothpaste, toothbrushes
- Medical supplies i.e. first aid kit that is stocked to last for months
- Flashlights, candles, lanterns, extra batteries
- Fuel for emergencies
- Baby supplies if needed
- Garbage bags
- Aluminum foil
Along with basic necessities, you will need some tools to help make life a little easier.
- Hand can-opener
- Hand mixer
- Hand grinder
- Ax—for chopping fire wood
- Gardening tools i.e. shovel, rake, pick, hoe
- Duct tape
- Fishing gear
- Bow for hunting
- Sewing kit
- Cast iron cookware
- Jerry cans for gasoline
Download the "Long term power grid failure checklist"
P.S. If you want to learn more about being prepared, here's an all star lineup of experts providing their best strategies to prepare and protect your family, t