There’s no two ways about it: the national power grid is extremely fragile.
We learned a bit about this during the massive Texas blackout in 2021. They have their own power grid, which is supposed to be resilient… and yet millions were left without power for two weeks due to a simple ice storm.
It’s not just Texas. From coast to coast America is operating on a creaky, 20th Century power grid completely incapable of meeting 21st Century power needs.
The problem isn’t just how old and creaky the grid is. It also extremely vulnerable to attack. That can come in the form of an EMP attack from a state or non-state actor, terrorist attacks on the physical grid or even sophisticated cybercriminals who are already inside the grid and can shut it off at a moment of their choosing.
In fact, fewer than 10 substations would have to go out to take down the entire grid.
Scared yet? Keep reading.
Just How Long Will It Take To Repair The Grid?
Most people think of the grid going down as being like a computer that has crashed. You just reboot it, right?
Well… in a word… no.
In fact, it would take about 18 months for the grid to come back online at the very least. Because that’s how long it takes to manufacture the heavy equipment needed to replace parts of the grid when they fail.
That isn’t even including the time that it takes to get them to the United States. Sorry, but we just don’t make them here anymore. Once they arrive they need to be installed by highly skilled technicians.
In the time that takes, it’s estimated that over 90 percent of the American population will die.
We won’t lie to you… your odds aren’t great… but they get a lot better when you’re aware of the threat of a grid down scenario and actively planning for it.
Preparing For Grid Down: Electricity
The first thing you need to prepare for is some kind of power supply. If you’re not off grid, your solar system is also not going to work when the grid goes down, because basically all you’re doing is farming electricity for the grid.
This means that you need some kind of backup system, be it a generator or a truly off-grid solar solution.
There are problems with this kind of preparedness: Namely, that if you are the only house on the block with power when the grid is going down you’re going to be a target for everyone else who is wondering when – or if – the power is ever coming back on.
So consider using it sparingly and blocking off your windows with blankets or similar. Insulate the generator so that it makes as little noise as possible. You don’t want this running around the clock – only when you absolutely need it.
Preparing For Grid Down: Food
Food prep is a whole topic on its own, but the important thing to know is that long before the stores run out of food, you won’t be able to buy it.
Why? Because the payment systems won’t be working. What’s more, the stores and supply depots will likely be looted very quickly once the full weight of a grid down scenario becomes clear.
This means you have to be prepared in two ways: First have some cash on hand so that you can legally purchase food either from the stores while they still have it or from your neighbors who might have grown it. Barter is also good to have and for that some of your best options are going to be ammo, alcohol, tobacco, coffee and other creature comforts.
The second way is to just have food on hand. Note that food that’s going to go bad when the grid goes down isn’t much better than having no food at all. So prepare your stocks with food that will last for the long term, as well as learn long-term food storage techniques.
Preparing For Grid Down: Water and Sanitation
You’re going to need water for drinking, for preparing food and for cleaning. The standard piece of advice is one gallon per person, per day for everything… so multiply that by the number of people in your house and the number of days you expect the grid to go down and it becomes very clear very fast why long-term water storage is problematic at best.
Rivers and streams will likely be flooded with sewage from backed up water treatment facilities, so you’ll need to learn how to purify water before drinking it or you’re going to have a whole lot of other troubles.
These are just three things you’ll have to worry about when the grid goes down. For a complete guide to “grid down” survival, stay tuned for our long post detailing everything you need to know about grid down.