What is the Power Grid?

Everything from the power station to the transformers and electrical lines, all the way to the consumer residences…the power grid is defined as a system of producers, components, lines, equipment and consumers of electricity.  Without the power, society would be catapulted back in time, being forced to live like our 19th century ancestral counterparts. The power grid is involved in most of our day-to-day activities. 

If the power grid went down there would be no electricity.  The power grid also provides for the supply of natural gas.  Additionally, the power grid is responsible for keeping the water flowing to the faucets.  Without the power grid, none of these commodities will be taken for granted any longer.   As time moves forward, consumers suffer fewer and fewer power outages.  When the lights are out it is mostly understood as a temporary situation that will recover itself within a few hours, maximum.  Right? We all expect the power to get turned back on at any moment, from the moment it goes out. 


What if the power didn’t come back on? What Would Cause the Power Grid to Go Down?

Many experts and theorists around the United States speculate on the cause for the power grid going down.  Unfortunately there is a wide range of threats existing which pose serious risk to the U.S. power grid. Some sources suggest that an economic meltdown would be one of the lead causes for downing the power grid. With a global lack of confidence in the American Dollar, these sources may be onto something! The problem with mass hysteria from an economic pitfall, is the subsequent rioting and anarchy which would ensue. Uncontrollable chaos in major cities is enough to cause a nationwide power outage.  

Another likely scenario is an outage due to an asteroid impact.  There are too many huge bodies of mass in space, which are rushing towards Earth. While most of these objects are near misses, it is historically proven that some of these objects with massive risk, do strike the Earth forcefully enough to cause everything from changes in weather, to tsunamis, and even mass extinctions.  A reasonably sized asteroid striking the right region in or near the U.S., can and will bring the power grid down. 

Many theorists talk about the power grid going down from an internet hacker attack.  Hackers are everywhere now, and with how things are currently going: hackers in other countries on the other side of the world, with the right know how and capability, could take down the U.S. power grid (temporarily or permanently).  Yes, hackers could take down the power grid (nearly everything is hooked up to the internet these days, the power grid is not an exception).    A close cousin to a hacker attack on the power grid would be an EMP attack. An Electromagnetic Pulse attack would specifically target taking the power grid down and destroying all electrical devices.  

Click here to read our guide on How to Survive an EMP attack.

The most popular theory for the power grid having problems and potentially going down, is through natural disaster.  Hurricanes, typhoons, tsunamis and earthquakes are powerful, natural threats which have proven their capabilities throughout history.  It is very reasonable, in fact probable, to assume that the United States will most certainly encounter a catastrophic natural disaster sooner or later which will make an adequate adversary to the American power grid.

After realizing how big of a risk there is to the United States power grid, no matter where in the country you live, it is wise to be prepared for any situation which leaves the country powerless.  Surviving without electricity is an imperative scenario to consider and plan ahead of time.  The best survivalists prepping involves surviving without electricity.

Power Grid & Electrical Blackout Survival Gear

These are some electrical blackout survival necessities we recommend on amazon:

Faraday Cage EMP BLACKOUT Bags Premium Ultra Thick 8.0 Metal 11pc Prepping Kit Laptops Tablets Smartphones Hard Drives

Protektive Pak PPK-27534 5 Piece Storage Container and Lid Set, 16-7/8" Length x 10" Width x 5-3/8" Depth

Midland XT511 GMRS Two-Way Emergency Crank Radio

Surviving if the power grid were interrupted 

Surviving in a pre-electrical age is not as impossible as it may sound; however, it is certainly difficult and will require a survivalist mentality and the survivalist’s full attention. Cash would no longer matter, although many people’s first thoughts will lead them to an ATM or bank, only to find they are among thousands of others thinking the same thing.  Another flock of people will raid all grocery stores, convenience stores, and pharmacies.  Trying to prep AFTER an event will not work and any supplies obtained would only permit temporary survival.  Real survival requires planning ahead of time.  If medicine is required by a survivalist to live, the medicine needs to be stocked ahead of time and a plan needs to be arranged for when the medicine runs out.  People have a bad habit of assuming bad things will not happen to them.  This includes the scenario where you have under planned your survival strategy.  In other words, you must have a plan for when the scenario outlives your survival plan (don’t plan to survive without power for 3 months only to die after realizing the power won’t be turned back on for a year).    Cell phones and traditional communication lines will be down (no phones, no internet, no email, no texting, no facebook).   Depending upon the disaster, radios may even be down (radio transmission does require electricity and lots of power to distribute great distances).  Two way radios will be very valuable; however, due to being such a hot commodity, two way radio channels are likely to be heavily congested with a number of conversations and people, making it very difficult to adequately communicate.  HAM and CB radios have a much larger range of frequencies, are more expensive, and permit greater communication distances, making them very wise to stock ahead of time.


People generally do not expect to be hit by a double whammy… a second disaster compounding the first disaster.  Imagine, in addition to an EMP strike, let’s say the attacking country also releases a biological weapon…something viral. The power grid going down means hospitals are unable to properly function and medical professionals will have a very hard time doing their job.  If the power grid were to be taken out first and then compounded with a biological threat that causes a health crisis of some kind, even people who prepared for surviving without electricity will perish from illness or viral infection.  Medical disasters are more likely to occur without power as the water supplies cannot flow and what water is available won’t be commercially treated.  Medicines, antibiotics, and respirators must be stocked, with a water purification plan in place as well.  You have to have a way to treat water, both for natural contaminants (parasites, bacteria, mold, etc), and also chemically.  When the commercial, treated water supply cannot reach you from a downed power grid, you must perform the purification and treatment process yourself. Click here and check out our How to Purify Your Own Water guide!

Emergency Water Purification Methods

Here are two emergency water purification must haves, which we recommend on amazon:

AquaMira Military Water Purifier Tablets, Chlorine Dioxide, Pack of 50

Survival Personal Water Filter - Purifier Straw for Camping, Hiking and Prepping | Filters Bacteria and Parasites (Green Paracord Fire Starter)

Tradable commodities will become more important when the power grid goes down than regular money.  Cash will retain its value for a short time afterwards, as people will assume the power outage will be temporary, however, a serious threat would make recovery very difficult, increasing the value in non-monetary commodities.  Some of the items to stock with the intention of being able to use the items as currency if the power grid goes down and apocalyptic survival begins include:

Alcohol - used for disinfecting and sanitizing, also used for medical purposes

Batteries - so many people will be looking for batteries – in fact, it’s worth it to learn how to make your own batteries

Blankets, Scarves, Gloves and Mittens – Keeping warm becomes tougher and durable accessories will be easy to trade


Fire Starter Kits - these will trade like gold

Gas and Oil - including also butane and propane

Gas & Oil based Heaters


Knives - knives will be an easy sell and everyone will need multiple knives

Lanterns and Light Bulbs - anything that can be used still to produce light will be valuable, including lamp oil

Lighters & Matches

Medical tools and Medicines

Silver - best conductor and useful, malleable metal

Watches - especially watches which do not require batteries

Water Purification Tablets & Purifying devices

There are many other currencies which will form, however, these are some of the most common expected to skyrocket in value and rarity.  These items can be used for an easier survival and if they are stocked in excess, a survivalist will have currency to trade for anything else that is needed.  

Some other things that you will want to stock for yourself include: police scanners and an A.M. radio, so you can scan and listen for any emergency transmissions.  Learning of the environment and situation around you through police scanners will be useful in the beginning, while police stations and emergency centers are still operating on generators.  If a hospital is required, it is best to find one within the first 72 hours after the grid goes down, otherwise it is not expected to find a hospital that still has power.

Many sources have suggested that the U.S. government and other powerful entities are stocking emergency food supplies (MREs – meals ready to eat), building emergency facilities to protect the elite, and even created a huge seed vault in the event of a doomsday catastrophe.  If the government is preparing, so should you.  You need enough food and emergency supplies for your family to be able to survive any emergency, including the power grid going down.  It is wise to plan to survive MONTHS, even a YEAR’s time through preparation, planning and stockpiling emergency supplies.  Some choose to build a fallout shelter, even underground many times…however, if you are on a budget, surviving no power grid means at least being able to make it through the first three months. If you plan to survive the first three months, you will have time to plan for the remainder of the time, however long that may be, during the first three months.  You just do not want to get caught rushing to a grocery store like the millions around you, to find that there is no food left and you are also dealing with a nationwide food crisis.

The Food Crisis Following a Power Grid Failure

No power changes everything.  In addition to worrying about water (both the supply and purification), a survivalist will plan for a food crisis.  A nationwide power grid failure would not only destroy food production, however, it would also have a severe effect on transportation and food distribution.  Even if food were being produced, finding food near you will be difficult, even potentially impossible. Food will not be able to be kept frozen or even cold, meaning what does exist will quickly go bad. 

Your bug out bag should consist of a few MREs; however, you should have a stockpile of emergency MREs, or a full plan for providing food to your family in the event the power grid goes down.  Emergency food supply is an essential preparation for a power grid failure. Click here to read up a little on Surviving the World Food Crisis.

Surviving Food Crisis with Your Own Survival Garden Seed Bank

Here are two really great seed banks we recommend on amazon:

135 Variety Heirloom Survival Seed Bank - Emergency Seed Vault

Survival Seed Vault - Heirloom Emergency Survival Seeds - Plant a Full Acre Crisis Victory Garden - 20 Easy-to-grow Varieties

Proper Shelter for When the Power Grid Goes Down

An underground fallout shelter is the most ideal getaway “bug out location” possible, however, it is very difficult for some people to build one (even impossible sometimes) and therefore an alternative plan is imperative.  If a pre-constructed fallout location is not possible, a survivalist needs to be able to identify the best buildings to hole up in.  The appropriate shelter will keep a survivalist out of the elements (snow, rain, wind).  The shelter must be easy to keep warm (not very many breezeway or draft opportunities). The tighter the shelter, the easier it will be able to heat purely from human bodies occupying the space; however, tighter is not always better as there are many downsides to having human beings in tight spaces which need to be addressed as well.   First, the human body emits a lot of humidity through sweat which can cause problems with the air quality and also increase the temperature drastically.  It is also less sanitary.  Additionally, carbon dioxide would be building up in the shelter without the proper air ventilation system.  Air ventilation sounds intimidating, but truthfully this can be as simple as a couple of flaps or windows cracked open to cause circulation to flow through the shelter.  Keeping these rules in mind, staying warm should be easy, especially with multiple shelter occupants (human beings can also bunch up to generate heat faster in the event of a true temperature emergency).  Sewage also becomes important, so rules will need to be created to keep waste from infiltrating the shelter’s air supply.  Generally, if a self-composting, mechanical toilet is not available, it is wise to do your business in a trash bag – lined bucket, lock the vapor in the trash bag when complete, and dispose of the trash bag in a pit at least 60 feet away from the shelter (just like camping, dump away from the campsite and bury). 

Starting a Garden and Re-growing the Food Supply

The most important part of a survival plan is a future plan.  There is more to surviving than temporarily outlasting an immediate threat…one must rebuild…one must reclaim…human beings must overcome the disaster by fixing the problems.  Food supply will be a huge problem after water supply has been handled (the second most important thing for long-term survival after a purified water supply has been established, is food).  A good survivalist will stock a full seed bank and the tools necessary to build and maintain a full garden.  A proper plan includes stocking thousands of seeds of all types and from all regions.  There must be seeds which are capable of growing vegetation in all types of environments.  All of the essential nutrients must be accounted for, as surviving means being healthy.

Security and Self-defense

Self-sustaining is not enough to surviving an apocalypse-style disaster, including a power grid failure.  One of the biggest risks to human survival during an emergency or catastrophe is exposure to other human beings.  Humans can be very vile, selfish, thoughtless, impulsive, dangerous, heartless creatures.  Humans are capable of all types of evil and madness…stealing for example is at the bottom of the list of things to worry about…although you will need to be prepared to protect your stockpile of supplies as people will want to steal your resources.  Gun defense is very wise, however, having self-defense that does not require ammunition is also wise (guns create loud noise and may bring more threats). Tasers, pepper spray, and other non-lethal self-defense devices are smart to stock.  It is also wise to stock a few whistles which can be passed out to your party in the event someone is split up and requires immediate emergency assistance.


Survivalist Tip: Do not tell other people about your supply stockpile, resources, medicines, or food supply.  Do not tell or show people your bug out location (fallout shelter or otherwise emergency plan).  Survival includes making smart decisions and smart survive according to the number of occupants the plan is built to support.  Do not bring on charity cases without planning for them ahead of time!

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