SHOW NOTE: “American Blackout” will be re-broadcast on Wednesday, November 13, at 9 p.m. ET. Check this site for additional showings.
Finally watched “American Blackout“, NatGeo’s latest apocalyptic offering. It wasn’t that bad, and although I could quibble and pick it apart as some have, I’d like to offer these bullet points.
- There will always be more of “them” than of you. Whether we call them zombies, the Golden Hoard, feral humans, whatever — they outnumber those of us who are prepared, by a long shot. With that in mind, you’re left with 3 choices when faced with these people:
- Hide and hope they won’t find you. In “American Blackout” (AB), it seemed to be the first instinct of most to venture out into the streets to find out what was going on. In reality, the mob scenes are going to be far worse than was depicted, making hunkering down, a pretty smart choice.
- Run. The prepper father figures out quickly what has happened and its implications and immediately has the family leave town.
- Fight back. If there are more of them than of you, your only chance for survival is to band together with many like-minded folks, but the chances of locating each other and forming a cohesive, defensive plan in a short period of time is small. You’re better off either running or hiding at this point.
- I’ve been advising people via this blog and my podcast to have cash on hand. When the power goes out, banks shut and lock their doors and ATM machines no longer work. You’ll be unable to make purchases with a debit/credit card. You may need to have enough cash for sizable bribes, so in my opinion, there’s no such thing as having too much cash on hand, unless it’s all in $100s.
- In AB, the blackout was caused by cyber terrorism. Vehicles of all kinds were still operational but traffic was quickly gridlocked. Transportation is an area of preparedness that isn’t talked about all that much, other than discussions about pimped out Bug Out Vehicles on survival forums.
- Not knowing where loved ones are might be the most terrifying aspect of an event like this one. AB did an effective job of portraying this from the little girl wondering when her daddy will get home to the teenage boy who hasn’t seen his mom since the first night of the blackout.
- If you can’t defend it, you don’t own it. The prepper family had some great plans in place as well as plenty of supplies. However, when their fenced property was breached, there was nothing else in place for protection, other than a few guns. Their only option was to either fight numerous neighbors or head to their bunker. They should have thought to have a second, more defend-able fenced perimeter.
- The prepper family were not portrayed in a sympathetic light, but maybe that’s somewhat deserved. There are preppers and survivalists out there who are looking forward to the end of the world, thinking they will reign supreme from their fully loaded bunkers. The prepper dad was a jerk in spite of being well intentioned.
- Basic supplies are easily acquirable and affordable, and there’s no excuse for not having several light sources, food, and bottled water. However, AB is very realistic in showing the masses of people who did not have even a few basics on hand.
- Everyone has to carry his or her own weight. For some reason, the Prepper Dad only had his son doing night patrol duty. Wife and daughter could have stepped in and taken on this responsibility as well.
- AB portrayed the importance of having layers of supplies. When the dad of the pregnant wife goes off to find food, he’s only carrying a baseball bat. Now, many people have been bludgeoned to death with a baseball bat, but that was all this guy had! If you’re thinking personal and home defense, go with the bat by all means, but have a shotgun and a handgun at least, and know how to use them.
- You never know where you might find yourself in a true SHTF scenario, which makes everyday carry items even more important. Four college kids were stuck in an elevator but were able to combine resources and had their smartphones as flashlights, duct tape, and a well-equipped Swiss army knife.
- Ingenuity trumps state-of-the-art “survival” supplies. The college kids fashioned a harness made of duct tape, belts, and some rope. Smart thinking.
- An open flame should be watched at all times. It really doesn’t take all that much for emergency workers to become overwhelmed. If you store candles, have a plan for burning them safely and keep them away from kids and pets.
- Helplessness is a horrible feeling, and reason enough to be prepared.
- If nothing else, have a water BOB or two — one for each bathtub in the house. I’ve been comfortable with the amount of water we have stored, but after watching AB decided to make this additional, inexpensive purchase.
- As one character points out, the upside to a grid failure is that bill collectors won’t be calling anymore! Even in a worst case scenario, there’s always a silver lining.
- When the banks shut down and people are unable to purchase anything electronically, what will they use for currency instead? AB took place over just 10 days, and other than showing stores taking “cash only”, there wasn’t any mention of barter or the use of precious metals.
If you are a seasoned prepper or survivalist, you may have watched AB through jaded eyes, picking apart each character and scenario. But do you remember how affected you were by One Second After?
That’s how hundreds of thousands of Americans are feeling right now having watched this show and learning about power grid failure for the first time. I hope they are out there right now buying flashlights and canned food.
Check out this American Blackout interactive timeline.
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