June 28, 2017

Preparing for the Grid to go Down


I reposted an article from Offgrid Survival called Half of all Americans Won’t Survive 2 Weeks without Electricity. It explained how fragile the electric grid is and how most Americans won’t last two weeks without it.

I’m not sure that half the population would die off in two weeks. In my thinking it would depend on if trucks were still running and making deliveries of food and medicine. One thing I do know is that if we saw an event that brought the electric grid down, life would be difficult for everyone and impossible for some.

I have written articles in the past that will be helpful in such an event. One thing to keep in mind about any type of event is that there are five basic human needs that need to be met. The articles that I think are helpful are listed under the basic need that is the best fit. Some might be listed under multiple basic needs.


If there is no electricity in many places there won’t be running water for long. Some communities have their water pumped in over two hundred miles. Knowing where to get water is a must, as is “The Storage, Filtration And Purification Of Water”.

I listed some tips for keeping food cold for a short term power outage in “Keeping Food Cold Without Electricity”. Some of these tips could be used to keep food cold for a short time in a long-term event. One might need to know how to cook with “Off Grid Fuel’s” as well.

One often overlooked thing when facing a grid down event is “Survival Sanitation”. If you’re connected to city sewer and water, how to handle human waste is something you’re going to want to know and might want to clue your neighbors in on quickly.

Knowing how to wash clothes is covered in “Off-Grid Laundry”. “Keeping Cool Without AC” is good information to know as well.

As far as I know insulin is the only medicine that means life and death if it is not kept cool. This and some other Diabetic related info is covered in “Preparedness for Diabetics”.

One items that gets more use when the power is out is candles. Because of this “Candle Safety” is important to know. Because of the loss of water pressure, “Fire Safety, Before and After the Fan” is good to know as well.

Having batteries to keep small electronics charged is a good idea. “Preparedness and Batteries” covers some needed information. Having a “Portable Generator” could enable power to your home or at least certain portions of it.

Having “Off Grid Fuel” stocked and knowing “Fuel Storage” for gasoline and diesel would be important as well.

The main thing to keep in mind about security during a prolonged grid down event is that you might see more crime. I covered what civil unrest might look like in “What Does Civil Unrest Look Like and How Can You Stay Safe Near It?”. You might consider “Keeping Watch Once It’s Hit the Fan” and instituting “Light, Sound and Smell Discipline”.
Closing Thoughts

I have a couple resources available that have a huge amount of information you might consider printing off to make sure it is available for just such an event. They are “Fifteen Must Have Downloads” and the link library. To get to the link library, hover your mouse over “General Preparedness”. It is the top drop down. You can choose from any of the available headings.

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  1. I dont know how it would turn out in the larger citys
    but as a resident and EMS worker in the city of Smithville Ms
    which was hit by an EF 5 tornado I watched a whole community come together
    and share we had no gas water or power nor natural gas
    to say it was an eye opener is an understatement

    • Chris Ray says:

      I have seen the same kind of thing in Minnesota when a community gets hit with a tornado. The community comes together, and donations pour in from around the state.

      I do wonder how things would shake out if the grid goes down on a wider scale and supplies and donations don’t come in.

      • Woody Woodstock says:

        “donations pour in from around the state”…

        Well, obvious you are talking about a whole other kind of scenario then when TSHTF… what do you think will pour in when all over America there is no power, no import of food products, etc. ?

        Obviously your community, any community or individual, will face a very different situation.

        • Chris Ray says:

          What I said about donations pouring in was talking about a disaster that did not bring the grid down, and trucks still made deliveries. Maybe you should reread what I said in its entirety because you seemed to skip over what I said next.

          “I do wonder how things would shake out if the grid goes down on a wider scale and supplies and donations don’t come in.”

  2. What would happen to all the nuclear power plants? How will they cool down?

    So if there is a melt down of all nuclear power plants how long to we have to get to the 50 mile radius from the start of the CME or EMS?

    I live about 20 to 25 miles from a nuclear power plan.

    • Chris Ray says:

      This is something I learned about the severity of from the author Mat Stein. Nuclear power plants keep enough diesel to run the generators to keep the rods cooled for two weeks. after that if they don’t get more fuel we will start to see meltdowns.

      I would recommend you have a bug out plan in place to take you the opposite direction from the plant. I would also recommend have potassium iodide as a part of your preps.

      • Would a CME burn the diesel generators? I think that if the generators are not protected they would go down too!

        • Carl Rooker says:

          I may be wrong, but during an EMP it is the semi-conductor circuits in modern electronics that are most at risk. I don’t think the generators would be at risk, but the controls for the plant itself may be.

          • Chris Ray says:

            you’re right that the generator itself shouldn’t be at risk, but any electronics inside that control it would be. This could make them useless.

        • Chris Ray says:

          a CME shouldn’t effect the generators, from my understanding the largest risk from a CME is the transformers themselves. Anything that is unplugged from the grid should be safe. That is one nice thing about a solar flare/CME we get a little warning and the powers that be could have some of the grid shut down.

          • Thank you Chris and Carl for your responses. The way I see the two answers is is I get an alert of a CME I need to leave the house and go about 50 to 100 miles. These generators mush have an auto turn on system and I am not sure if they designed them for CME and do they have any electronics inside or a battery to start them which any of these thing can be a problem.

            I think that 99% of the population does not have any ideas about the nuclear power plants.

          • Chris Ray says:

            Henry read the comment from Gino, he was a nuclear tech and has more info to add.

            I live within 50 miles of a plant, and I don’t plan on bugging out at the mention of a CME. I will watch things and if it is a big one and it knocks the grid down, I will then consider bugging out. As Gino said, getting 50 miles away won’t be far enough.

        • Most Nuclear plants have a back up plan for just a problem of no ele. One of the main reasons the plants are next to rivers. of large body’s of water. In the newer Diesel powered back ups use non EMP prof electronics. Even if they did unless the refineries are set up with their own power plants it wont matter. As far as Chris Rays comment that is sound advise. At least 125 miles up wind of plant would be the closes you would want to be.
          DO NOT DRINK THE WATER on any river that is fed from a water source comes from an area around a plant. If the grid does down. Just a (1/4) and not be able to get started back up again in 2 weeks, Well just look at Louisiana. The state, county and city they really were un prepared and prepped. Most people think it is FEMA’s job to take care of every one that is not the case. FEMA is to get materials to said area when they age given a list form stated agencies. NOT do all the work. Total grid< 1 Million would be dead in 3 weeks. Lest just hope that does not happen. Total break down of ever thing would take place. That includes your own safety. Gangs would rule not LE'S.

    • Gino Schafer says:

      A nuke plant has back up systems for back up systems, and is designed for worst case scenarios. If the grid goes down (loss of off site power), the reactor will immediately be shut down and the diesel generators will kick in within 3 seconds and will run until the tanks go dry; about 2 weeks. Reactor shutdown cooling will rely on cooling pumps which will run 2 weeks from diesel power. But there is also natural cooling flow in the primary coolant system that will flow without pumps. And provide some cooling capacity. But the real problem that is going to arise is the spent fuel pool. The spent fuel pool has no natural cooling flow and is entirely dependent of cooling pumps. Spent fuel pools are full at most plants because Jimmy Carter outlawed reprocessing of spent fuel in the 1970s. So the power companies have no where to send the fuel. (the main stream media forgets to tell you this) After 2 weeks the pool will heat up and eventually flash to steam as a result of residual heat from the spent fuel. Spent fuel pools are typically in buildings similar to a pole barn and near a major water source, like a river, or the Great Lakes. After about 3 weeks, if the grid doesn’t come back up, it’s going to get very ugly. 50 miles is not going to be far enough away. And down wind is not the place to be, for 100s of miles. I spent 14 years as radiochemist at a nuke plant.

      • Chris Ray says:

        Excellent info from an expert. Thank you for adding to the conversation.

      • Gino thank you very much for your information. I live in Miami, Florida so you know Turkey Point is about 25 miles away and there are a total of three nuclear power plants in Florida. So my question to you is what part of Florida would you go to if you were me if a CME was going to happen?

        Do I go to Key West, or to Naples, Florida?

        Again thank you, I know that there are many that do not have any idea of this problem if it were to happen.

        • Gino Schafer says:

          Check out this map: http://www.nrdc.org/nuclear/fallout/

          If you zoom on on where you live you will see 3 plants in Fla, the large circles represent represent 10 and 50 mile evac zones. The skinny ovals are what you really want to focus on, they are called plumes. And they represent the potential for airborne contamination carried by the prevailing winds. So the author of this map has chosen to depict the plumes based on normal prevailing winds. Which of course everyone knows, the winds can change. In the event of a nuclear accident, pay attention to which way the wind is blowing!

          You do not want to be downwind. And if you are stuck downwind? You need to get inside and stay there. Probably for 2 weeks at least. Do your best to prevent air from getting in and assume everything outside is covered by radioactive dust (contamination, also called fallout). If someone goes outside, their clothing is likely contaminated (including shoes), so they need to wear coveralls that are left outside, or strip off their contaminated clothes (and shoes) before re entering the house. Imagine that all dust is a hazard, and its everywhere outside. The wind carries it. You don’t want to bring in any dust/dirt from outside in this scenario. The good part is it washes off with water (of course that water you used to decontaminate yourself? It’s radioactive). After a few weeks the radiation levels will drop significantly. Google “half-life.” Radioactive iodine has a relatively short half life. And that s the immediate problem in a nuclear accident. Cesium, cobalt, etc have much longer ones.

          • Gino,

            The http://www.nrdc.org/nuclear/fallout/ has very good maps! I saved closeups and all the state of Florida in a word file, will print to have. The studies and information are very good with the maps of the 50 mile potential contamination zone and the plumes with prevailing winds.

            The way I see it is to be on the safe side get the prevailing winds and make that a circle which they look like 80 to 100 miles would be safer because you never know were the winds will blow.

            I can say one thing and that is I have learned so much today. All of this info 99% of the public does not know.

          • Chris Ray says:

            Fallout only occurs when there has been an explosion, if a plant goes into melt down, two weeks won’t be long enough.

      • You left out Murphy s law and the Fukishima back ups, crack ups.

        • Gino Schafer says:

          Fukishima plants were boiling water reactors (BWR), almost all nuke plants in the US are pressurized water reactors (PWR), big difference. It would take too long to explain the differences, but you can look it up.

    • Answers to several of the issues raised in this thread:

      The 50 mile “safety radius” from nuclear facilities is a myth. Radiation from a nuclear reactor does not get released in concentric circles. Where the radiation goes depends on wind patterns, weather, geography. You could be 100 miles away, but if you’re in the path of the plume, you’ve done yourself no good.

      Potassium Iodide is good ONLY for protection against Iodine 131 and 134, which are released and dangerous immediately following a fresh radiological accident. Radioactive iodine has a half-life of 8 days, which means it has a radiation life of 80 days (10 half-life cycles to neutrality). BUT KI will NOT protect you from plutonium (half-life 24,000 years), cesium (half-life 30 years), strontium 90 (half-life 280 years) or any of the other released radioisotopes. And half-life always needs to be multiplied by 10 for short-lived isotopes and 20 for long-lived isotopes to learn how long the radiation will be dangerous. In all honesty, we’re looking at “forever.”

      Yes, there’s diesel fuel for about two weeks of running generators at a nuclear power facility — but that’s if the reactor is not otherwise interfered with by weather or water. If, for example, there’s an upstream dam that fails because of the grid going down, the released water would flood a site and flooding could take out even the diesel generators. Flooding during SuperStorm Sandy at Salem Nuclear Power Plant on Delaware Bay in southern New Jersey, 43 miles from Philadelphia. High waves in the river swamped four of Salem’s six massive pumps, which pull in the cooling water through a 40-foot wide conduits.

      Every nuclear reactor site is also a nuclear waste dump, as they have to store all their “spent” fuel, all of which contains weapons-grade plutonium. Power is needed to circulate water to keep the spent fuel cool for 5-7 years (depending on the type) until it is cool enough to put into dry cask storage… which is only good for 60-80 years before the containers disintegrate from being bombarded by radiation. Something for the grandkids to think about.

      And Gino Schaffer, there are 23 GE Mark I Reactors in the United States – the same model as Fukushima – along with I believe 9 Mark II reactors, which are little better. There is NO safe nuclear reactor anywhere, because all you need is one bad day (SEE: March 11, 2011) and you are toast.

      For weekly updates on all things anti-nuclear, listen to Nuclear Hotseat at: http://www.NuclearHotseat.com/blog or subscribe on iTunes.

    • all nuclear plants have a large battery back up system, they would shut down properly, it has happened before.

  3. Carl Rooker says:

    Good, simple and concise post.

    I think the sanitation issue is going to be the worst. Especially in the cities. The leading cause of most disease.

    • Chris Ray says:

      Thanks Carl. I agree, sanitation is going to be a huge issue that not a lot have considered.

      • Louise Price says:

        My husband & I were just talking about this very subject. I was being a bit of a smart mouth when I said: Think about all the folks who live in the high rises in some of these cities. My husband said he would hate to be the one living on the lower floors. I quickly visualized the situation and realized he’s right. What a mess that would be.

        • Chris Ray says:

          Unless it were a building with many stories and the stairs were the only option. I don’t think my knee would take it very well.

    • For the problem of in city, well find a man hole cover and find a way to move it. Do not use in the building head. First you are or may be wasting water you can’t replace. If you do make it out of the city in the (hills) the minimum depth would need to be 6′ Better 8′ to the bottom. With enough earth to prevent water from filling and over flowing. At least 100′ from the dwelling and down wind.

  4. Carl Rooker says:

    Something I do not see often is discussion of emergency communications during an EMP. One of the first things the government would want to start back up is radio communications to the public. Though such might have a lot of propaganda in it, it would still have necessary information.

    One thing I have done to prepare for such is to make small “faraday cages” for solar/crank powered am/fm radios. Simply wrap it in paper towel, and then wrap it in aluminum foil. The paper towel insulates the device from the metal foil, and the metal foil would insulate the whole from an EMP. I have also done this for a few “light emitting diode lights”. These lights give a lot of light with very little power. Being semi conductor tech, they are vulnerable to EMP. I have one such light in my pocket at work, to help get out and to help get employees and guests out (I work at a high rise hotel).

    I do not believe that the risk of an EMP is high, but these preps are so low cost and sensible that it would be foolish not to.

    Another thought is to protect a set of FRS/GMRS radios for communication with friends and families.

    • Chris Ray says:

      I haven’t researched faraday cages in depth, so I don’t know this as a fact. But I have heard they would need to be grounded, what do you know about that?

      • Carl Rooker says:

        You know, when I first considered a faraday cage I thought it would have to be grounded too. It has been awhile, but when I was studying the idea people did seem to think that was the case. Now that you bring it up, I am not so sure. I will see what I can dig up.

      • I looked into this and it would be better for it to be grounded. One of the setup that I like is to buy a steel trash can.

        Carl your idea is good but it all about how big the EMP is. I would put the insulated devices into the steel trash can tape the top of the steel trash can with an aluminum foil tape that they use for ac duck work and then ground the can.

        • Louise Price says:

          My husband said to make sure that metal to metal contact does not occur. We have a metal ammo box lined with Styrofoam and a small ham radio inside that. The object is the metal container takes the hit while the insulation does not transfer that hit to the radio.

  5. The Lord has led me to get used to life without AC here in North Central Florida.
    Mid 90’s take some getting used to in a mobile home but the Lord is faithful and sends the clouds,the rain and the sunset which I am thankful for along with a smaller electric bill.
    I haven’t run it once.Still using a fan but it’s good to know I can survive without something that has ‘trapped’ many people.It’s going to be tough for families.
    Living in any city is going to be extremely problematic,especially at night when the animals come out..
    Abraham had the sense to not follow Lot into the city.

  6. Mark Timothy says:

    Many people in the German camps survived a lot longer than 2 weeks
    after the allies had completely destroyed the re-supply infrastructure.

    • Chris Ray says:

      This is true, and many also died from starvation and other causes. People then were also a lot more resilient and used to a harder way of life.

    • The Europeans were also growing food in the house and had live stock on the basement along with birds for eggs. They were also no so far removed from those that settled this land or those that live here before we came here. Just a thought

  7. In the 1990’s, the city of Sarajevo underwent a 44 month siege. The first year was the hardest with virtually no electricity available to civilians and the regular food supply cut off. There was also shelling and sniping to deal with.

    Even with all of that, 76% of the population survived.

    The human critter, when pushed to the wall, can show a surprising level of adaptation and resilience for survival. Never underestimate humans when it comes to survival.

  8. ozspeaksup says:

    candles are ok but kero lanterns placed with mirrors to reflect are probably better. and you CAN burn the oils like citronella etc that you can get cheaply in them
    dont forget to buy wicks! though soft cotton shoelaces can be used in a real pinch

  9. We just lucked out from a solar flare, read http://spaceweather.com/
    and http://beforeitsnews.com/paranormal/2013/08/double-blast-of-m-class-solar-flares-m3-and-m1-a-cme-might-be-heading-for-earth-today-19th-september-2455670.html

    It’s a double-blast of M-class solar flares which is missing us. Close call.

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