Major blackouts are becoming more and more common, according to data from the National Energy Administration.
Our aging power grid, along with ever-increasing demands for electric power are taking their toll on the electrical industry’s ability to keep us all supplied with power.
Currently, the number of major blackouts per year doubles every five years. At that rate, we will soon find ourselves catching up with some third-world countries. We have an answer to help you out with this challenge.
While the major reason for this is our aging power grid, the problem is much more complex than that. Replacement of aging equipment is extremely expensive and the process filled with red tape. Energy companies find themselves bogged down for years in the quagmire of conflicting government requirements, on both a state and national level.
This problem is becoming worse, with the massive amount of regulations that the Obama Administration has promulgated through his presidency.
The EPA especially, has attacked the energy sector ruthlessly, especially the coal industry and coal power plants.
But even this isn’t really our biggest issue with the grid, although it is an important issue. The biggest issue is that the grid is highly vulnerable.
As a large, decentralized network, spanning the country, it is virtually impossible to protect. Even the minimal protections that are in place, have been proven to be ineffective.
The fact is, our electrical grid is highly susceptible to damage, and it’s common knowledge that it is.
Any number of enemies could take out the grid, or larger portions of it, either through direct, kinetic terrorist attacks, cyber-warfare or a high-altitude EMP. Even the sun could take it out, with a Coronal Mass Ejection. We had a near miss on that as recently as last year.
With so much risk to our aging power grid, it’s not a matter of if we’re going to be faced by a major blackout or even a semi-permanent one, but when we will be faced with it. Odds are catching up with us, bringing us to a place where we can all count on that happening to us sometime in our lives.
Clearly, preparing for such an event, regardless of how it happens, has to be part and parcel of our disaster preparation.
Anyone who chooses to ignore this possibility is merely putting themselves and their families in the massive group of people who don’t prepare, because they expect the government to take care of them. In other words, they are planning on becoming victims of the blackout, rather than becoming ones who overcome the blackout.
Blackouts instill fear in people, as we all have a little bit of natural fear of the dark. Mankind was created to live and function in the daylight, not the night.
While we have learned and adapted to doing many things in the dark, a lot of that has been by overcoming the dark with artificial light. We simply function best, when we can see what we are doing.
But what if you’re the only one in your neighborhood who can see what you’re doing? What if the lights go out, in a major blackout, and they stay out long enough that batteries in your neighbors’ flashlights go dead?
When they are sitting in the dark, cold and hungry, how are you going to protect yourself?
When the lights go out, so does everything else too. We depend on electricity for so many different things, that without it, society comes grinding to a standstill.
Not only do we lose the ability to do things at night, but we also lose our entire supply chain, because it depends on electricity for the flow of information, control, and even pumping the gas into the trucks and airplanes that make the deliveries.
So losing power means losing pretty much everything we depend on in our modern, technology-based lives.
We must always keep in the back of our minds that desperate people do desperate things. When the lights go out and the heat goes off, that feeling of desperation will begin to take root in their hearts. Bit by bit it will grow, fed by each and every thing that they find missing from their lives.
When they can’t get gas for their car, the desperation will grow a bit more. When they can’t buy food, because the grocery store shelves are empty, the desperation will increase. And when they turn on the faucet and nothing comes out, because there isn’t any electricity for the pumps, their cups of desperation may very well overflow.
The best thing that any of us can do in such a situation is ensure that we don’t let anyone around us know that we’re better off than they are.
OPSEC will have to become our byword, as we quietly try to survive in the midst of them. Specifically, there are a number of things we will want to hide from those around us.
1. The Means to Create Light
The first thing that people will notice is also one of the hardest to hide… light. That’s the first thing that anyone is going to turn on, when the power goes out. Whether it is flashlights, candles or oil-burning lamps, they’re all going to turn on some light.
The problem is, their light will go out after a short time, perhaps a day or two. After that, any light you have will be extremely conspicuous.
If the windows of every house on your street are dark and even a little light is coming out of yours, your house will seem like a lighthouse to those around. Their lack of light will make yours seem even greater.
Extreme light discipline will have to be the order of the day. You’re going to have to hide your light, and avoid using it in places where they can see. One key component of this will have to be blackout curtains on over all your windows.
Regular curtains won’t be enough, because they will look like they are lit up to people on the outside. You need curtains that are dark enough and heavy enough to block the light, so that your windows appear dark, like theirs.
2. Power Generation
Many of us have invested in either solar power or wind power, both to augment the electrical power we buy from our local utility company and as a means of producing power in a blackout.
But a roof full of solar panels or a wind turbine sticking 30 feet up in the air in your backyard are easy to see, letting everyone know that you have power, when they don’t.
That’s going to attract people like moths to an open flame. About the only thing that could be worse is a gas powered generator.
Even those who aren’t looking for your solar panels will hear that, especially considering how quiet it will be without cars running down the roads and entertainment systems blaring out music.
While I wouldn’t want to dissuade you from investing in solar or wind power, in the midst of a blackout you’ll actually be better off with something stealthy. A portable system, with the solar panels at ground level would fit that bill, as a fenced backyard would hide it pretty well.
You can quietly provide power and keep your family safe during an outage with the right power generator. Hurry up and grab this offer right now to pay in monthly installments!
3. Solar Powered Anything
Speaking of solar power, pretty much anything that is solar powered is going to be in high demand. Even if all you have is a solar charger for your phone, you can count on everyone around you wanting to use it. More major solar powered devices, such as a solar oven, will become very high on the list of things that people will want to steal.
Of course, the longer the blackout lasts, the more people there will be who will be willing to turn to stealing. So the threat for your solar oven being stolen will actually increase as time goes on, requiring more and more diligence to protect it.
4. Food and the Ability to Cook that Food
As I already mentioned, the supermarket shelves will be bare, which will force people to use up whatever food they have stored within their homes. But what will they do when they’ve eaten the last of the popcorn and scraped the peanut butter jar dry?
Most preppers believe that people will turn to attacking one another and raiding other’s homes in search of food at this time. Small gangs will form, either neighbors working together or people who are friends who decide they can help one another.
In either case, these gangs will be looking for food, more than anything else, and they won’t be reluctant to break into homes and hit the residents over the head to get it.
Not only will they be searching for food, but for the ability to cook that food. A large portion of the things we eat need to be cooked in order to be edible.
But cooking in modern times is done with electricity or natural gas, both of which will be conspicuous by their absence. Barbecue grills will become the number one means of cooking… at least until people run out of propane or charcoal.
That’s when the solar oven is going to become popular. Even without knowing how to use one, people will be quick to steal an unattended solar oven, thinking that they can figure it out.
One of the problems with hiding your food is that cooking creates odors which will attract attention.
You’ll need to be careful about this, avoiding cooking in ways that create odors. Meats are the worst for this, as they produce the most odor when cooking. But by cooking them in soups, you reduce the odor that passes through the air.
5. Water and the Means to Pump it Out of the Ground
We really can’t talk about food, without talking about water as well. Water is a higher survival priority than food is, so people will be desperate for it much quicker.
If you’ve got a river, lake or canal near enough to draw water out of, you’ll probably be safe. But if not, and people find out you have a well, they’ll be knocking on your door.
At that time, you’ll have to make a decision. Will you provide water to your neighbors or not. A lot of that will depend on how good your well is and how effective a pump you have.
Sharing water might be great for public relations, but there’s a danger there too. Some will thank you, while others might see it as an opportunity to take over your well.
6. Heat for Your Home
One of the worst times to have the lights go out is in the wintertime. Then, light isn’t people’s biggest concern, heat is.
Every year people die during the cold northern winters, either because there is no power to heat their homes or because they can’t afford to pay for heat. Sadly, this mostly happens to the elderly, who are the most vulnerable people in society.
When the power is out and people get cold, there’s a natural tendency to gather together, seeking to share whatever heat they have, even if it’s only body heat. That means that they’ll come knocking on your door, if they think you have heat.
Depending on how you are heating your home, doing so might be difficult to hide.
Burning wood, which is what most of us are planning to do, produces smoke, as well as the smell of burning wood. Just like the steak cooking on the barbecue grill, that smell will attract attention.
One thing you can do to help alleviate this is to buy firewood that produces little smoke and odor. Different woods burn differently, producing different amounts of heat, as well as smelling differently.
You’ll need to experiment a bit, but if you can find a low-odor wood, it will help.
7. Fuel for Your Car
As the blackout progresses, one thing you can be sure of is that people will begin to migrate. The lack of news about what is happening elsewhere will cause people to wonder if things would be better, if they could just get out of the area where the blackout is. So, some will leave, trying to find a better place.
Of course, that means leaving in their cars and trucks. But without the gas pumps working, that’s going to be hard to do. Even so, they’ll try… mostly by stealing gas from others.
Some will siphon it out of gas tanks and others will try to pump it out of the gas station’s tanks with a manual pump.
The best thing you can do to keep from losing your gas and even your car is to hide them. If you don’t have room in your garage, then put them in the backyard.
If you can’t do that, then drain out the gas yourself and disable the car. Removing a tire and the battery, as well as allowing the car to get covered with a layer of dust, will go a long way towards making it look unusable.
8. Guns & Ammo
Finally, it would be a good idea to keep your guns and ammo out of sight. Some might think that being obviously armed would be a deterrent to attack.
While that might be true for the more timid in society, it would be just as likely to make others think that you must have something in your home worth protecting. For those people, your guns would be an advertisement, not a deterrent.
That doesn’t mean that you should be unarmed, merely that you shouldn’t advertise the fact. Those will be dangerous times and you may very well need your guns to protect yourself. So, keep them close at hand, but keep them hidden at the same time.
Most people who carry concealed are actually against open carry of firearms. That’s not because they don’t agree with the implied right under the Second Amendment, but rather that they want the element of surprise.
If someone doesn’t know what you’re carrying, they can’t prepare effectively to counter it. That gives you a huge tactical advantage, when the time comes and you bring your guns out of hiding.
Grintch | November 20, 2016
Why aren’t gas stations REQUIRED to have backup generators (gasoline powered, of course)? One would think it to be a matter of national security. For a few thousand dollars, or less, an adequate generator could be installed in every gas station, making things a little more secure in an emergency by enabling people to get fuel for their vehicles and personal generators.
Also, why don’t traffic lights have battery backup systems? Whenever there is a power failure, valuable police resources are wasted manually directing traffic at major intersections. One would think, with the advent of LED traffic lights, improved batteries, and solar charging panels, it would be a no-brainer to equip each traffic light with an automatic backup system.
These are just 2 things that could easily be done to alleviate problems in short-term power outages. Surely there are many more.
d | November 25, 2016
I did have a situation like the problem put forward…. we lost power in n. ga. and I was late for work…and low on gas… so i went to the Texaco station at the on ramp for the expressway…they had lights on in the store…the pumps had power…and so I went up to ‘gas-up’…the pumps did not work…so I went into the store…and asked the owner WHAT GIVES??? he told me he could not sell even a smell of gas until the main office in NEW JERSY gave his system the OK…I offered to just leave money on the counter and he could ring it up AFTER the computer woke up in NEW JERSEY… sorry was his only answer….he had a standby generator and was ready to sell…but no computer link equaled no sale…!!! period. !!! ..I turned around and went back home and raided the lawnmower and other equipment for fuel.. and THEN went to work … NOTE THIS INFORMATION CAREFULLY …no central computer equals no gas…
mike | November 28, 2016
Hmm, I’ve ran a convenience store gas station and I’ve never heard of this. Sounds fishy to me.
joe | November 29, 2016
Here in the south we recently had a storm system go past and the gas stations all had emergency power to run the pumps but the fuel delivery trucks were not rolling to make deliveries. Stock up and use stabilizer to lengthen your fuels shelf life. And don’t forget to ROTATE.
Steve | April 17, 2021
You still have to get gasoline delivered to the gas station via tanker trucks. and that gasoline comes from a refinery that is also likely shut down due to lack of energy being produced. And if a gas station actually did have several thousand gallons of fuel in their tanks, it would all be gone in a few hours.
Elizabeth | November 20, 2016
Excellent information! I tried to give a 5 star rating but it automatically did a 3 star.
The Wiseman | November 21, 2016
In a blackout, DON’T OPEN YOUR DOOR! If you must, talk through it. But don’t ever open it to strangers – you can be overcome in a moment by desperate people who want and need your stuff!
Black plastic garbage bags make good blackout curtains – tape them tight.
Eat food cold for the first few days. Starving people outside can smell you cooking for miles away.
Don’t share anything. Your supply is finite, and you are gonna need it. See the Bible for the “Parable of the Ten Virgins” for support about this.
E. BOnner | November 21, 2016
Very insightful article, I realize you were not performing a prepper guide, I would like to add that if youre fortunate enough to have toiletries on hand, and access to some sort of makeshift shower don’t use a loud scented soap as hygiene will likely be very challenging in a Mass Disaster. Also this may sound cruel but medical training and First Aid supplies is something you may want to be slow to bring to the light.
Alan Sparks | December 15, 2016
As to Cooking especially meat with out the aroma of your meal giving you away.
I built a box out of ceder fence boards to surround a small Igloo “Ice Cube”
cooler. Make the box bigger by a couple of inches on all sides. by first placing some 1 1/2 inch foam cut to fit the sides and bottom then using rattle can foam insulation to fill the remainder of the space. I used a plastic bag to isolate the removable top so it will comes free after filling. Thus I have a water bath sous vide cooker that i use with zip lock bags to cook beef and chicken to perfection with out any cooking odor. The cooler will hold water at temperature for several hours. I use a compost thermometer to monitor and adjust the initial water temp usually 5 degrees above desired meat internal temp. ie 135 deg for steak or 165 deg for chicken. meat always comes out very juicy.
Jason | February 2, 2017
Great article. I’ve spent most of my time acquiring things. It hadn’t really dawned on me the extent to which people will be looking for those things when a blackout hits. Thanks for all the info. Lots to think about.
WTripp | March 7, 2017
Dale I live about 45 min outside Savannah Ga . I bought a generator last may and had a buddy of mine ,who was a Sea Bee give me a hand hooking it up . When Hurricane Mathew came through we lost power for 5 days . I was 1 of 3 who had alternative power . I let some of my friends store critical medication in my refrigerators . However I had to run the generator in the garage which meant I had to leave it open . After all was said and done and the power back , a neighbor made thew comment . If the power was out much longer he was going to take the generator . Point being I now have to think of ways to use my prepps with out drawing attention from the wrong people . I have built a box to run the generator in to both keep it out of sight and muffle the noise I am open to suggestions or thoughts