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Grid Down: It’s Worse Than You Think!

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other awaiting in line in front of HEB store after the Texas Blizzard of 2021

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. 

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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

Canned 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. 

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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. 

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Communication and Navigation

Rediscovering Shortwave Radio: A Gateway to Global Communication

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Shortwave radio, often overlooked in our digital age, has a rich history dating back to the late 1800s. It gained prominence during the early 1900s, offering a lifeline for international communication long before the Internet era. Pioneered by visionaries like Guglielmo Marconi, shortwave radio facilitated trans-Atlantic broadcasts, enabling listeners to tune into news and entertainment from distant lands.

Embracing Shortwave in Everyday Life

In the tumultuous years of World War II, shortwave radio emerged as a crucial source of information for many American families. With the absence of modern news networks, families huddled around their shortwave receivers, tuning into European government broadcasts and military communications. This allowed them to stay informed about global events and maintain a sense of connection amidst the chaos of war.

In the late 1980s, a significant turning point occurred with the commercialization of shortwave radio. This shift allowed private stations to sell advertising, paving the way for a diverse range of programming. Political talk shows, in particular, gained traction, providing a platform for conservative and libertarian voices often marginalized by mainstream media.

Navigating the Shortwave Landscape

Today, shortwave radio offers a diverse array of programming catering to various interests and perspectives. From alternative news and talk shows to entertainment and foreign government broadcasts, there’s something for everyone. Whether you’re seeking political discourse, old-time radio dramas, or global perspectives, shortwave radio provides a gateway to a world of content.

When delving into the world of shortwave radio, selecting the right equipment is essential. Analog and digital receivers each have their advantages, with digital radios offering convenience and programmability. Additionally, opting for a radio with single sideband (SSB) capability expands your listening options, allowing you to tune into a broader range of frequencies.

Enhancing Reception with Antennas

Maximizing Signal Strength

While built-in antennas suffice for casual listening, dedicated antennas can significantly enhance reception. Simple setups like long wire antennas or loop antennas offer improved signal strength, especially in challenging environments. Additionally, understanding antenna length calculations ensures optimal performance across different frequency ranges.

Navigating the shortwave spectrum requires some basic knowledge of frequency ranges and propagation patterns. Daytime and nighttime listening present distinct opportunities, with specific frequency bands favored during different times of the day. Experimenting with various frequencies and monitoring propagation conditions enhances your listening experience.

Embracing Shortwave for Preparedness

In an era of digital dependence, shortwave radio remains a valuable tool for preparedness and emergency communication. Its ability to operate independently of internet infrastructure makes it invaluable during crises when traditional communication channels may fail. By incorporating shortwave radio into your preparedness strategy, you ensure a resilient means of staying informed and connected.

In a rapidly evolving world, shortwave radio stands as a timeless technology, offering a window into global communication. Whether for entertainment, information, or emergency preparedness, its enduring relevance underscores its importance in today’s interconnected society. So, join the ranks of listeners old and new, and embark on a journey through the airwaves with shortwave radio.

Have you ever used shortwave radio? How has it worked for you? What other alternative communication methods do you use? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

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Communication and Navigation

Stay In Touch: Alternative Communication Devices For Disasters

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Pair of Portable Headsets

One area where most preppers fail in their preparation is alternative communication devices. Too many people don’t think about the impact of a disaster on their ability to communicate quickly and easily with their family and other members of their party. 

Assume that the power grid is working. You and a million other people are going to be desperately trying to get through to their loved ones. While you might not get a busy signal these days on your mobile phone, the bandwidth of mobile phone towers is limited. 

Then there’s the specter of the power grid going down and… we don’t need to spell that one out for you. 

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Either way, you’re going to need a backup way to communicate with your family in an emergency. This is absolutely crucial in the event that you get separated. Nothing is going to make a bad situation worse than having to search for a small child who got lost during a disaster. 

Here are some alternative communication devices you can use to keep in touch and help everyone to stay safe during a bugout. 

Walkie-Talkies

This is one of the best, most reliable forms of communication you can have to stay in touch with your family during an emergency, at least over short distances. The only real problem with them is that they require battery power, but you can plan for that by having a portable solar power source to keep your walkie-talkies charged up. 

The other big drawback is the range, but they’re very compact and can fit into any go bag you need. The main thing to remember here is not to go cheap. What works for your kid as a toy is not going to work for keeping everyone together during a survival scenario. So go heavy duty, have some kind of solar backup supply to keep them going and these are going to be great for short-distance communication.

Check out this 4 in 1 Emergency Radio Perfect for Survival Situations for you and your family below!

Click to Claim Your Emergency Radio

HAM Radio

HAM radios aren’t going to be practical for a bugout, but when it comes to sheltering in place, there’s really no substitute. Unlike a walkie-talkie you can’t just pull one of these out of the box and know exactly what to do when you start using it. This is a tool that requires some training to use, so don’t be catching it on the fly after a disaster happens – you’ll be setting yourself up for failure. 

HAM radios require a license and they’re also not the best option for short-term communication. For long-term communication this is going to be your best bet. So if you have friends in the prepper community but they live on the other side of the country (or the other side of the world), these can be great for maintaining contact.

The flip side of the long-distance aspect of HAM radio communication is that you might end up inadvertently communicating with some unsavory characters. So if you meet someone new via HAM radio after a collapse or a disaster, you’re going to need to be very cautious about what information you share with them. 

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Finally, HAM radios require a license from the federal government to operate. You might not care about keeping something like that above board, especially after a disaster, but you should at least be aware that you can run afoul of the feds if you don’t have your HAM radio properly licensed. 

Citizen Band Radio

A citizen band (or CB) radio is another great way for communication over longer distances and doesn’t take up as much space as a HAM radio. It also doesn’t require a license, so if that’s a concern of yours, the CB radio might be a better choice. What’s more, there’s not much of a learning curve to using a CB radio. 

One great application for a CB radio is to mount them into different bugout vehicles. That way everyone can stay in touch while on the road. They’re somewhat portable so if you have to abandon your vehicle for any reason, you can take them out on the walk with you. 

Staying in touch is important and honestly, it’s not a question of which of these you should have. It’s a question of having all tools at your disposal and knowing what situations they’re best for. We would strongly recommend that all our readers have a variety of ways to stay in touch after the SHTF. 

*This article contains 3rd party affiliate offers*

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Communication and Navigation

Break The Silence: Essential Communication Tools For Preppers

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Pair of portable radio sets on the background of a military backpack camouflage modern army radio

When SHTF and everything goes quiet, it’s like the world has stopped talking. Suddenly, you realize how alone you are. Everything goes dark and quiet, but being a prepared survivalist means having a plan. Communication is key to staying safe and connected. Having the right tools to talk and get information is as important as having water, food, and shelter.

A crisis is not the time to realize you’re ill-equipped in the communication department. Establishing a reliable communication network before the SHTF situation is crucial to keeping your family safe and staying informed. This article plunges into the core of essential communication tools that every prepper should have at their disposal.

Hand Crank Emergency Radios

Hand crank radios are a prepper’s dream. In the absence of electricity, these radios generate power with a little manual effort. They often come with additional features like a flashlight and a USB port to charge other devices. This self-powered dynamo ensures that you’re always connected, come hell or high water. Need one? Check out this emergency radio that will work if SHTF here!

EMERGENCY RADIO
Claim Your Emergency Radio Here

Ham Radios (Amateur Radios)

With the ability to communicate over long distances even when cell towers and internet are down, ham radios are a prepper essential. A ham radio could connect you to others in your community, and with a good antenna, across state lines, or even internationally. It’s imperative to get licensed to operate a ham radio to understand the etiquettes and technicalities.

CB Radios (Citizens Band Radios)

CB radios have been trusted by truckers and off-roaders for decades. They are simple to operate, don’t require a license, and provide a reliable means of short-range communication. A CB radio can be a great asset for local communications in a SHTF scenario.

Satellite Phones:

When the conventional communication networks collapse, a satellite phone could be a lifeline. Unlike cell phones, satellite phones do not rely on terrestrial cell towers and remain functional as long as the satellites are operational.

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Signal Flares and Smoke Signals

In dire situations, especially when lost or in need of urgent help, signal flares and smoke signals can communicate your location to rescuers or other group members. They are basic, effective, and require no technical knowledge to use.

Walkie Talkies

For short to medium range communication, especially within a group or family, walkie talkies are invaluable. They are simple, effective, and can be crucial for coordination in a crisis.

Portable Power Solutions

Keeping your communication devices powered is equally important. Solar chargers, power banks, and portable battery chargers are vital to ensure your communication lines remain open.

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In wrapping up, embracing the right communication tools, understanding their operation, and having a plan is the cornerstone of effective prepping. As silence blankets the chaos of a fallen world, your preparedness in communication could very well be the echo that guides hope through the encroaching darkness, uniting you with your loved ones and the broader community of survivors. Prepping is not just about surviving, but thriving amidst adversity, and communication is your key to unlocking a realm of organized resilience in the face of calamity.

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