Have you ever thought about the possibility of what will happen when the power grid fails? What will you do without electricity to keep your food cold? What will you do without electricity to see what you are doing or to cook? Below, we are going to talk about the power grid, what it will look like if it fails, and the things you will need to survive!
What is the Power Grid?
In simple terms, the power grid is what provides electricity to your home and to everyone else’s homes and businesses. You have seen the tall towers strung with wires that stretch across every knick and cranny of our states. But, did you know that those are power-transmission lines and you are literally looking at a part of the power grid?
How Does it Work?
The power grid starts where electricity is made. It is typically generated and distributed at central power stations that run on fossil fuels like coal or natural gas, or from hydroelectric plants that use water to generate the electricity. However, there are now more options to gather electricity, such as rooftop solar panels, wind farms, and other environmentally friendly sources.
Regardless of how electricity is made, it must be transmitted and distributed to me and you. The network of transmission and distribution facilities is what makes up our power grid. Electricity is transmitted at a very high voltage over the power lines that run throughout our country.
When the electricity runs through the power lines, it reaches neighborhoods, and transformers convert the high voltage to a lower voltage for distribution into the homes and businesses.
As you and I use electricity for lights, computers, appliances, heating and cooling, we are drawing on the electrical grid.
When the Power Grid Fails
We have all experienced short instances of no power. Maybe you forgot to pay an electric bill, a storm comes through and knocks the power out, or someone crashes their car into a transformer. However, most of us don’t know what it’s like to be without power for weeks, months, or even years. Well, unless you are a part of the Amish community. Even those who live without power have not seen what could happen if our entire power grid fails. So, here are just a few of the things we will experience if this happens:
You Won’t Be Able to Charge Your Phone
Let’s hope you don’t have an emergency situation because it’s likely you won’t be able to use your phone. Unless you have an old fashioned phone you plug into the wall, your phone will eventually die. Not to mention, so many people will be calling for help that service will be spotty. This is where solar comes into play. Make sure you have some sort of solar unit that can charge your phone, just get one. Here is one that I highly recommend: Goal Zero Lantern Litehouse and Goal Zero Nomad Solar Charger
Lack of Refrigeration Will Cause Food Shortages
When we think of power outages, we think about the food in our own home spoiling. But, what happens when our local grocery stores can no longer keep their food refrigerated either? Many businesses have backup generators for short power outages, but if the grid fails, there will be food shortages.
It Will Be Hard to Pay for Things
Not only will grocery stores be without power, but they won’t be able to take those plastic cards. Scanners will not work! ATMs will not work! Even the check scanners will not work! The only hope you will have is that you stored some cash.
Please note, I did talk to four different grocery stores here in Southern Utah about five years ago and this is what I learned. A few stores have a generator or two that will keep the cold foods cold a limited time. Three of the stores said they would have to lock the doors just as banks do when there is a power outage for safety reasons.
One store mentioned they have generators stored throughout the state that could be brought down here to keep the store going, if the highways are open. This same-store said they could take up to 4,000 customers using debit or credit cards. They will risk not knowing if the customers have money in said accounts just to serve their valued clients.
Traffic will Be Messed Up
The traffic lights run on electricity which means your traffic lights won’t work. This may be ok in small towns or cities, but in big cities with lots of traffic, this could mean lots of traffic gridlock and possible accidents. Additionally, communications for emergency personnel will be compromised. They are then forced to use battery-operated radios instead of electrically powered ones.
Gas Stations Can’t Pump Gas
Your car won’t last long without gas. And, with no power, gas stations will not be able to pump the gas they have into your vehicle. Please keep you gas tank at least 3/4 full. You do not want to be that person in line to fill your gas tank with 200+ other families waiting to get gas.
Water Treatment Plants and Sewer Lines Need Electricity
Did you know that water treatment plants need power to pump and process the water? Not only do they need electricity to move water, but they don’t have any backup systems if the power grid goes out. Therefore, we will have a hard time finding quality water.
Be prepared for portable showers and possible toilet issues. I called our city a few years back about the sewer lines and they mentioned if you are at the top of the sewer lines you may be okay because sewage naturally goes downhill, with a little help. When the power goes out and your city or county doesn’t have a generator or back up plan, you need to be ready.
Nuclear Power Plants Could Explode
As of this writing, we have 104 nuclear power plants in the United States. These plants use electricity to keep cool. Cooling the plant is extremely important. Spent rods must be kept cool and contained as overheating can cause explosions and fires. If the core overheats, we could see a nuclear meltdown. Additionally, if the containment structure of the plant is damaged, radiation will leak into the environment.
Of course, these plants have generators for short term power outages, but if the power grid goes down, we don’t want to know what will happen.
Things You Need if the Power Grid Fails
As you can see above, having a power grid fail can be pretty drastic. Our society is so reliant on electricity that if it went down there would most definitely be mass chaos. So, what can you do today to prepare for the power grid to fail? Here are a few things you can get to prepare now:
What to Get
- Get a generator. If you get a solar-powered generator, you have your own energy. Not getting solar-powered means your generator will only run a short period of time without fuel.
- Extra fuel for the generator. If you don’t have a solar-powered generator, then you need to stock up on fuel for what you do have.
- Propane cooking units like a patio BBQ. We’ve always had a natural gas kitchen stove, but you should check out solar ovens, butane stoves, or even a fire pit for your patio, deck, or backyard. You need to have ways to cook if your power goes out.
- Solar-powered lights. You can get candles as well, but solar-powered lights will be safer. People are known to forget to blow a candle out.
- Candles. You want long-burning candles in glass. Liquid candles will burn for 50 hours so it is good to have some on hand as well.
- Flashlights. These are always good to have on hand.
- Batteries. Things like radios run on batteries, and since that will be your way of figuring out what is going on around you, stock up on them.
- Lighters and matches. If you don’t have a gas stove, you will need to start a fire for cooking.
- Old fashioned phone. It MAY work if you can plug it into the wall and use it for emergencies.
- Solar-powered charging stations. If you can get a solar-powered charger for your phone, you may be able to use your cell phone.
- Water. You need at least 4 gallons of water per person per day. Start with at least 28 gallons of water per person in your family for a minimum of one week.
- Canned and dry food. Make sure you have enough for several weeks, which is the bare minimum.
- Battery-powered or solar-powered radio. This is how you will know what is going on in the world.
- Pet food. If you have pets, make sure you have enough pet food stored up for several weeks.
I would like to encourage you to read, “Lights Out” by Ted Koppel. He shows you everything that could happen when the power grid fails as well as how to prepare yourself. I have a shortlist here, but if we are looking at months without power, we really need to be prepared.
Additionally, I would like for you to read my post: How to Use Solar to Boost Your Survival. When it comes to being without electricity, we can have our own. The more solar-powered items you have, the easier you can transition into not being reliant on the power grid.
I would encourage everyone to become self-reliant. The more you only rely on yourself for the things you need, the less impact something like a power grid failure will have on you and your family. Remember friends, prepare for the worst and hope for the best. May God bless this world, Linda
Copyright Images: Power Grids Power Lines Deposit photos_75618345_s-2019, Light Bulbs Deposit photos_25718771_s-2019