In honor of National Preparedness Month, here’s a look back at a popular NatGeo special from 2013.
When it first aired in 2013, NatGeo’s survival show, American Blackout, was a hot topic around the country. It definitely caught the attention of non-preppers from coast to coast. More recently, Ted Koppell wrote about the strong possibility of cyberterrorism taking out our power grid in his book, Lights Out. In our current fragile economy with unrest in so many different sectors, the last thing we need is a long-term, widespread blackout.
You may have read One Second After or Light’s Out, the novel by David Crawford, and had more than one or two panic attacks, but what have you done to prepare for this worst case scenario and are your survival priorities in their proper order? How about getting started with these tips for preparing for a winter power outage:
- With winter coming, a heat source that will keep you and your family warm enough to survive should be a top concern. This heater is highly rated and runs on propane.
- Even on the coldest nights, you’ll need some ventilation if you’re burning wood in something other than a fireplace or wood-burning stove. You must have ventilation such as a window cracked a couple of inches if you’re using propane, kerosene,and butane.
- Know your fuel’s dangers and limitations and have plenty stored. Butane, for example, freezes and can’t be used when temps dip below the freezing point. Wood requires several months, at least, to season. Propane is an excellent choice as a safe and can be stored very long-term.
- Just as important as multiple heat sources is closing off the entire house except for the one or two rooms you’ll be living in. When the grid is down, it’s not feasible or reasonable to expect that you’ll be heating (or cooling, when summer comes) an entire house. Plan on living in the kitchen, if it’s large enough, or maybe the kitchen and a single adjoining room. Put up tarps and blankets in doorways to keep out as much cold air as possible. Putting up a tent for sleeping in is another smart idea for coping with very cold temperatures.
- You’ll need sources of ambient and focused light. It’s easy to say that you’ll just wake up with the roosters and go to sleep when the sun goes down, but that will probably not be very practical. You do need light sources. This is the perfect time to stock up on high quality small solar chargers, solar batteries, and the lanterns and flashlights that use them. Also check out the Paqlite for an ambient light that doesn’t require batteries, ever. I have a few and keep them in the car, my purse, and in Bug Out Bags.
- Once you have a plan to stay warm and have light sources, water is another very critical element. If you live in a cold part of the country, consider storing larger containers of water indoors to avoid freezing. Water weighs about 8 pounds per gallon, making even a 10-gallon container mighty hard to move once it’s in place. Have a reliable water filter like this one if your water source becomes tainted or you must use rainfall or water from lakes or streams.
- Might sound crazy, but if you have small livestock and you’ll be living in sub-zero temps, you just might have to move them indoors if they are to survive the winter. And, if they don’t survive, you may not survive if you’re counting on them as a food source.
- Food storage is a given and is usually the easiest piece to put into place, either for a power grid failure or a winter storm. Do store your food indoors, unless you want to end up with frozen cans and jars of food that may crack when frozen. This resource page will provide details for getting food storage in place.
- Once the living area is warm enough, there’s a bit of light, and everyone has had a bit to eat and drink, then what? Store anything and everything that provide entertainment. I’m thinking really thick books with great story lines,such as those written by J.R.R. Tolkien, Charles Dickens, and dozens of other classics. Lots and lots of writing/drawing paper, pencils, “How to Draw” books, and hours of music in whatever format is easy to store and can be shielded from the effects of EMP with a simple Faraday cage.
Top priorities? Warmth, light, water, food, entertainment, and a form of communication. We are so used to getting information as it happens, it’s hard to imagine a scenario in which we might not know what’s happening across town, much less hundreds of miles away.
When, or if, the grid goes down, cell phone service and landlines will follow, along with TV and radio. It’s possible that some old-school HAM radios may be operational before anything else. For sure, reliable information will become as valuable as gold.
Helpful resources for you:
- Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from EMP Attack — download and read the entire, official report
- Disaster Preparedness for EMP Attacks and Solar Storms by Arthur T. Bradley
- Kindle or other e-reader — Load that baby up with hundreds of books!
- One Second After by William Forstchen
- Survival Mom: How to prepare your family for everyday disasters and worst case scenarios by Lisa Bedford
- Surviving EMP by Rob Hanus
- Thrive Life freeze dried food
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