Have you put some thought into what would happen if your world went dark for a week? I mean really thought about it, starting with day one and going out a week, a month or even longer?
I don’t know about you, but when I first started prepping, I heeded the warnings from NASA and considered the possibility of an EMP caused by solar flares, a coronal mass ejection, or even a meteor strike. These days, the concern is as much for a human-induced attack on the grid as it is for a natural phenomena.
It would be an understatement to say that I prep, first and foremost, for the possibility of an extended grid-down power outage. Such an outage would affect every aspect of life as we know it including water, food, sanitation, and health care. Businesses would close and jobs would be lost. Chaos would become the norm, and for those living in heavily populated areas, civil unrest the likes of which we have never experienced, will erupt.
Today I am going to breakdown the sequence of events during the first week of a grid-down power outage, and give you a small taste of what will happen in the weeks after that. Yes, I am preaching the choir. But even so, if there is a message that needs to be broadcast, it is one of preparedness.
If you ever feel your efforts are not worth it, return to this article, and think again.
Day One: Cities are Hit the Hardest
Thousands are trapped in elevators
All electrical appliances are shut down and inoperative, including refrigerators, freezers, heating units, air conditioners
Water faucets run dry
Because there is not water, toilets no longer ﬂush
ATM machines are inoperative
Banks and other businesses are shuttered
Emergency generators provide pockets of power and light but, for the most part, there is profound darkness everywhere
Battery-powered radios and cell phones still operate but there is no word as to the cause or scale of the power outage
Gas stations without generators cannot pump fuel
Day Two: Confusion Reigns
Drugstores and supermarkets have been stripped clean of all goods
Law enforcement personnel are overwhelmed by medical emergencies and scattered outbreaks of looting
Batteries on laptops and cell phones are dying
Radio updates offer conﬂicting descriptions of the outage and there is no credible news relative to the expected duration
Ofﬁcials disagree as to whether residents should ﬁnd shelter or evacuate (but to where?)
Bridges and tunnels are backed up for hours
Day Three: No Gas, No Water, and No Food
All gas stations have run out of fuel
Water is at a premium
FEMA has provided emergency generators to pump water and keep sewage systems operational, but supplies are limited
Millions of “Meals Ready to Eat” have been distributed.
Backup food and water supplies do not exist
End of Week One: You are Own Your Own
Emergency rations have been depleted
Hundreds of the elderly and inﬁrm have died
Hundreds of thousands of refugees have migrated to areas where there still is power
Unequipped to house or feed them, some states have instituted plans to keep the refugees out
Only the military can maintain a semblance of order and there are not enough troops to go around
Millions of people are, essentially, on their own
Week Two and Beyond: Board Up the Windows and Protect Yourself from Looters and Thugs
With no end in sight, hiding and defending your goods is a full time job and a number one priority
Law enforcement personnel are abandoning their post in order to secure their own families
Like-minded neighbors band together to inventory resources and exchange goods via barter
Neighbors canvass each other for skills that can be put to good use for the collective good
Stockpiled food is rationed to the minimum amount needed to maintain necessary caloric levels
Hunting, fishing and foraging for food begins and stored goods begin to dwindle
FEMA is nowhere to be found
A while back NatGeo put out a documentary that deals with both a natural and a nuclear EMP. You can watch it on YouTube (below) or get the DVD.
The Final Word
The aftermath of a wide-rage, long-term power outage has been written about and discussed by many. For some, an introduction to such an event came from fiction, such as One Second After or, in the extreme of a nuclear winter, The Road. On the other hand, the probability has been poo-poo’d by many. Clearly, those naysayers will not be ready and most likely will become predators when they learn that help from the government is not forthcoming.
As Ted Koppel stated in his book, Light’s Out, there is no federal plan for a widespread power outage lasting more than a week. That does not mean that we can’t be prepared.
Additional Reading: Q&A With Ted Koppel in Prepper Book Festival 10: Lights Out.
When you think about, beyond preparing for a localized natural disaster, we need to be thinking about the consequences of a disruptive event of a much larger magnitude. And with that thought in mind, know that being prepared is the best thing you can do for yourself and your family.
Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!
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Bargain Bin: Here are a selection of items related to this article. Note that it is my belief that everyone should have some basic solar devices, including a portable panel for charging electronic gizmos and rechargeable batteries.
Sunferno Flintstone Portable Solar Panel with Rechargeable Battery Pack: This sturdy solar power pack is lightweight and small enough to be used in an EDC kit. I especially like that it has 2 USB ports.
RAVPower 15W Solar Charger with Dual USB Ports: This compact, three panel, solar charger will charge two devices at once, including tablets, smartphones, Kindles, and even AA/AAA battery chargers. Value priced at about $50. For more information, read: Gear Review: RAVPower 15W Solar Charger with Dual USB Ports.
Solar Charger for Standard Batteries: This Goal Zero Guide 10 Plus Power Pack , coupled with the Goal Zero Nomad 7 Solar Panel is what I use to charge up AA and AAA batteries as well as my electronic devices. I purchased mine as a kit from Amazon.
Panasonic eneloop AA New 2100 Cycle Ni-MH Pre-Charged Rechargeable Batteries: These days, I try to use eneloops as much as possible. They hold a charge forever, or so it seems, and work well in flashlights and small electronics. Note: I also use the Amazon Basics brand and will purchase those if the price is less. I have done a lot of reading and to the best of my knowledge, they are an eneloop twin, branded by Amazon. They charge up fine in my Maximal Power battery charger.
Lights Out: A Cyberattack, A Nation Unprepared, Surviving the Aftermath: The hallmark book, by award winning journalist Ted Koppel, will hopefully educate the sheeple and motivate them to embrace the message of preparedness. For the rest of us, there is much to learn about the state of preparedness, or lack thereof, at the highest levels of our government. Read more: Prepper Book Festival 10: Lights Out by Ted Koppel.
One Second After: For many, the novel “One Second After” was a game changer that convinced them of the need to be prepared. It is a story in which one man struggles to save his family and his small North Carolina town after America loses a war based upon an Electro Magnetic Pulse (EMP) used as a weapon. It could happen. If you have not read this book, you really should.
The Road by Cormac McCarthy: A father and his son walk alone through burned America. Nothing moves in the ravaged landscape save the ash on the wind. It is cold enough to crack stones, and when the snow falls it is gray. The sky is dark. Their destination is the coast, although they don’t know what, if anything, awaits them there. They have nothing; just a pistol to defend themselves against the lawless bands that stalk the road, the clothes they are wearing, a cart of scavenged food—and each other. If you have not read the book (or seen the movie) please do. Highly recommended!
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