What Is A Grid Down Scenario?

A “Grid Down” event or situation is an event where the power grid goes down.  In other words, a blackout.  Typically, Grid Down refers to a widespread event and one where the power isn’t expected to be quickly restored.

A Grid Down Scenario, then, would refer to any event that impacts the ability to generate power on a wide basis.  Further, because the more serious of grid down scenarios involve very long periods of time before the power would be restored, if ever, planning for it usually requires a combination of tactical and strategic planning.

Electrical power is so ubiquitous now that we have no concept of how to live without it.  Most people don’t even know what it is or how it works, but simply expect it to be there when we flip the switch.  We are addicted to it and without it, our society would collapse.

The things we take for granted everyday would suddenly become useless without electricity:

  • lights
  • refrigeration and freezers
  • stoves, ovens, coffee makers, toasters, microwaves
  • washers and dryers
  • water heaters
  • internet and computers (including desktops, laptops and tablets)
  • communications (land line, cell, satellite, radio, repeaters)
  • TV (cable, satellite, OTA) and commercial radio (AM, FM)
  • modern musical instruments
  • cameras
  • gaming systems
  • battery chargers
  • garage door openers
  • electric fans
  • and on and on.

Short power outages, even when they only last a very short time, are likely to be the talk of the day around the water cooler simply because of the inconvenience that people experienced because of it.  Long power outages are, indeed, true hardships, but typically people are able to draw on the resources of those not effected by the outage (like the recent outages this past Fall in New England).

Think about the conditions that would exist without electrical power, especially if the power was knocked out by an EMP attack and it’s not coming back on.  Some of these things wouldn’t be an issue if the power was knocked out by a non-EMP event, but the longer the grid power is down, the more of an issue these become:

  • Modern hospitals become death traps, either instantly or eventually.  All life support and surgical equipment stops.  (Yes, they should have generators, but once that fuel runs out, then what?)
  • You can’t call your honey to say you’re stuck in traffic due to all the stop lights being out (either due to overloaded circuits or because the equipment isn’t working), though texting may work for a while in a non-EMP event.
  • You can’t access the internet, which means no Tweeting, Facebook, email and no checking on survival and prepper forums to see what’s happening.
  • If you’re inside with no windows, it’s dark. Except for those few places that have emergency lighting, and then only while the batteries last.
  • Your food begins to spoil.
  • Water pressure stops (except for those few that are on a 100% gravity fed system).
  • You can’t charge any of your electronic devices.
  • No sports (unless you consider running from street thugs a sport).
  • No access to banks – which means you can’t get your money out.
  • Security systems go down soon (assuming their batteries are fresh and charged).
  • Washing your body, hair and clothes suddenly became a lot harder.
  • Heating or air conditioning? Fuhgeddaboudit.
  • These are just a few to get you thinking.

If the power goes out because of an EMP attack, many of things that you could use to generate local power (generators, cars, inverters, charge controllers, etc.) either won’t work or are too damaged to use.  Even if they’re not damaged (it’s expected that many vehicles will still run in some capacity), if it needs fuel, what you have access to is all you’re going to get.

Imagine what people will be like when they realize that the power won’t be coming back on for weeks, months or years?  If there are no communications to other areas, like what we’d experience in an EMP attack, the vast majority of people would be in denial, insisting that the power will return “any day now!”  This denial is caused by the normalcy bias and would continue until far beyond when they should have taken appropriate action.

However, this denial can work in your favor, if you’re a prepper.  When people don’t expect the worst, they usually won’t take action until far beyond when that action would have helped them.  This allows the prepared person to set their plan into motion and capitalize on the inaction of others, like evacuating to a remote location and not having to worry about spontaneous road blocks and rampant criminality.  This slowness to react means that most people will continue behaving as normal, as they’re expecting normalcy to return shortly.

It also needs to be said that the criminals are far faster at realizing when law enforcement is overextended and quick to take advantage of the situation.  You won’t be able to assume that there won’t be any danger, as not everyone will suffer from normalcy bias, but it’s unlikely that you’ll run into those “Mad Max” situations in the beginning.  This should allow you to make the most of those first few crucial hours or days.  Once people figure out that their world has changed, all bets are off.

If you haven’t made any plans for a grid down scenario, both short and long term, give it some consideration and put it into your preparedness plans.

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