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The dangers to our aging, fragile electrical grid are numerous. Over the last few years, many of us have focused on the risk of an EMP, mostly fueled by North Korea’s nuclear and ICBM testing. But that may not be the biggest risk our power grid faces, according to Dan Coats, the National Director of Intelligence. According to a recent statement by him, cyber attacks against the grid have become so commonplace as to have “the light flashing red” right now. This is just as it was after the 9-11 World Trade Center disaster.
EMPs Aren’t The Only Threat To A Power Grid Failure
So, if you were breathing easier because the risk of North Korea causing mischief has gone down, don’t be hasty. In fact, North Korea is one of the four principal countries that are trying to infiltrate our government’s computer networks at all levels as well as our nation’s industry and power grid.
While this may not seem as serious a risk as an EMP shutting everything down, it very well could be. A well thought out attack, causing cascading failures, could shut down large parts of the grid. Worse, getting into the computers of power plants could cause serious damage to those plants. In the case of nuclear power plants, it could have catastrophic results.
Just in case you hadn’t heard, some hackers have gotten far enough into the computers running the grid (and in one case a power plant) to do just that. Why they didn’t is something we don’t know. They could just be waiting for the right time.
Are We Really Ready For A Power Grid Failure?
The question this leaves for you and I is: are we ready for a power grid failure? I don’t mean a temporary power outage which lasts for a few days, I mean really going down. I’m talking about something that would take months or even years to repair.
Many say that if that were to happen, we’d be thrown back into living like they did in the 1800s. There’s just one problem with that analogy, most of us don’t have what we need in order to live that way. It’s bad enough for those of us who call ourselves preppers. For those who aren’t, there’s little chance at all.
There are a number of key areas that I think many of us are lacking in. Let the list below serve as a checklist for you, and you should ask yourself if you are ready to deal with these things.
Harvesting Water During A Black Out
The generally held belief that we only need a gallon of water for each person per day is false. That’s a minimum for drinking and cooking, assuming that you live in a temperate climate. You’ll need much more than that if you include bathing, cleaning your house, and washing your clothes. If you’re going to be gardening, and you can’t count on rain to keep your plants watered, that amount goes up exponentially.
Having enough water means having water sources that are under your control. These would include a well or rainwater capture. Hauling enough water to meet your needs from a mile away or more isn’t going to be practical. If you’re using a well, you’ll either need a manual pump or enough electrical generation capability to power your pump during a power grid failure.
The idea of the four-foot garden is false. For that matter, my 15’ x 30’ garden doesn’t provide enough for us to eat. If you’re going to be growing your own food, you’re going to need to convert every bit of your yard to garden. That’s going to be a lot of work, especially when you consider that you can’t rent a bobcat to dig up your yard. You’re going to have to do it with old-fashioned muscle power.
The other thing you’re going to need to have is enough seed, fertilizer, and chemicals to take care of that big of a garden. That’s a lot more than most of us have. Furthermore, when you consider that the average adult eats about a ton of food per year, you can see why you’ll need to be growing a lot.
Transportation When The Power Grid Fails
If we assume that gasoline will be scarce, then we won’t be able to count on our cars and trucks to get us around. This predicament severely limits our ability to move around, let alone move other things. How would you move 50 gallons of water? How would you get firewood home if you had someplace you could cut it?
Before the invention of the car, people used horses as their main means of motive power. But there really aren’t that many horses around these days. In a world with a power grid failure, I’m sure that any horses in existence will be at a premium if you can even get your hands on one.
You’re either going to have to fix everything yourself or know someone who you can barter with to fix it for you. This will be important, as there will be little in the way of trade once the stores sell out of the useful products that they have.
The Argentinean financial collapse gives us a little insight here. When their economy crashed, people couldn’t afford to replace things, especially luxury items. Things they would normally throw away and replace suddenly had to be repaired or done without. The same will happen to us when we can’t just go buy a replacement.
Medical Services During A Power Grid Failure
Getting medical services for family members will be difficult, especially for those who live far away from those services. Once again, the issue of transportation raises its ugly head. So, if you can’t get a family member to the doctor or to a hospital, what do you do?
There will probably be more accidents during such a time and those accidents will probably be more serious. Moreover, you’re going to have to know how to treat the injuries caused by these accidents. Otherwise, your family member might just bleed out before you can get them to the doctor.
The idea of using a bucket as a makeshift toilet only works for a short period of time. For a prolonged situation, what do you do with those bags of human waste you would be collecting? They’re a health hazard, so you need to do something with them.
Those who have septic systems are going to have a real advantage in this. It will probably only take three days or so for the sewer lines to back up, especially in low-lying areas. Those who have septic tanks will probably be good for around three years. Everyone else will either need to dig outhouses or start composting their waste for fertilizing their gardens.
Bartering During a Power Grid Failure
Keep in mind that there will probably be a thriving barter economy, which will rise up to replace the dollar. That process happened in Argentina as well. It will be possible to get people to provide services for you for those things you don’t know how to do. The trick, in this case, will be finding those people. If you’re a prepper, you’ll probably be in better shape to barter with those people than others will be.
Nonetheless, you also want to be able to barter your own skills to have some means of gaining an “income” (even if there isn’t any money exchanged). Since there’s a good chance that most of our jobs will go up in smoke, those skills may be the only income you will have. In essence, you want to make sure that you have skills which others would want, over and above your survival skills.
You may also enjoy reading an additional Off The Grid News article: How To Run Your Business When The Power Grid Goes Down
Or download our free 28-page report that discusses the top 9 threats to the power grid: Black Out
What are your thoughts on how to survive when the power grid goes down? Let us know in the comments below.