11 Things You Need to Have Ready for when the Power Grid Fails

Rich M.
By Rich M. February 13, 2020 09:54

11 Things You Need to Have Ready for when the Power Grid Fails

It finally happens and you hear it… or rather, you don’t hear it. You don’t hear anything at all. Everything just seems so quiet. Must have been how things were, before all the cars and machinery entered our lives. Things just seem to have come to a stop, like the power grid went out. Oh wait, the power grid did go out. Now, what do we do?

The loss of the grid, whether through an EMP attack, terrorism or cyberwarfare is the nightmare scenario – everything we depend on coming to a complete stop. If ever there was a difficult survival scenario for us to face, this is it. Modern society is so dependent on electrical power to operate, that the loss of the grid would leave most people at a loss for what to do.

Many have talked about the loss of the grid as returning us to living like the 1800s, but it’s not… it’s worse. At least our ancestors who lived back in the 1800s knew how to do without all the things that we’ll be doing without. We won’t. We will have to depend on ourselves and our own resourcefulness for the most basic of necessities. Things that our infrastructure now provide for us, will no longer exist, unless we can reproduce them ourselves. That’s just what we’ll have to do if we want to survive.

So, here’s my “top ten” list of things we will need to have ready, so that we can meet our own needs, when society no longer can meet them for us.

#1. The first thing we’d better concern ourselves with is heating our homes. Of all the things that could kill us in a grid-down scenario, the fastest and easiest killer is hypothermia. Without electricity, it doesn’t matter what source of heating we’re used to using… it will be out. We’ll need something else.

For most of us, this means heating with wood; using a fireplace or wood-burning stove. Of the two, the wood-burning stove will provide us with the most heat. It’s also easier to install. But the big question is fuel. How much firewood do you have? Where can you get more? How can you haul it home?

Related: Best Ways to Heat Your Off-Grid Home This Winter

#2. Without electricity, we won’t have a municipal water system, with fresh, clean water delivered right to our homes. While it might run for a day or two, until the gas for the generator is used up and the water in the tanks runs out; but that’s about it. After that, we’re either going to have to haul water from a nearby river or lake, or we’re going to have to harvest it from rainwater or a well.

No matter how much water you have stockpiled, you can be sure it’s not enough. Even a swimming pool full of water will only last so long. You’re going to need more than that. So it’s best to be ready to harvest your water right from nature, preferably on your own property.

Related: Survival Water From Your Water Heater

#3. In a post-disaster world, you’ll have to assume that all water is suspect. That means drinking only water that you have purified. While you can use unpurified water for a lot of things, you can’t ingest it in any way. That means purifying enough water for drinking, cooking and washing the dishes at a minimum.

Most people count on filtration for water purification. There’s nothing wrong with that. There are a number of excellent water filters on the market. But what are you going to do, when you run out of filters? You’ll need something else, in addition to that filtration system, to make sure that you can continue to have clean water to drink.

Related: How To Make Your Own Solar Water Heater

#4. Most of us cook over either electric or gas stoves. Even so, the gas stoves depend on electricity as well. While most gas pumping stations generate their own electricity to run their pumps, chances are that they will shut down as well. Even if they don’t shut down automatically from the loss of electric power, they will probably be shut down by the operators, as a safety measure.

This will mean that we are left without our most common method of cooking food. The most likely replacement, once again, will be wood, with people turning to barbecue grills or fire pits to cook in. Another option is using solar power for cooking, with some sort of solar oven.

Related: No Gas, No Electricity… How To Cook Indoors Without Smoke

#5. The beginning of prepping for most people is to build a stockpile of food. That’s something that just never seems to end. No matter how much you have, there’s always a desire to reach the next level, increasing your preparedness just a little bit more.

Don’t forget to have some off-site caches of food as well, in case you are forced to abandon your home. you never know what might cause you to need to bug out and you might not be able to take it all with you.

Of course, food isn’t the only thing you need to stockpile, it’s just the most obvious. You’re going to need everything from fuel to sewing needles. So, even if you start with food, be ready to expand your thinking, adding everything else you’re going to need.

Related: How to Build a 44-Day Stockpile for Only $2.40 a Day

#6. No matter how big your food stockpile is, it will eventually run out. That’s why many preppers are turning to grow their own food at home. even if you have a huge stockpile to use, growing your own will allow you to extend that stockpile out, surviving longer.

In the case of some of those disastrous causes of the grid going down, there’s a good chance that it will take over a decade to bring things back online again. With that being the case, it’s unlikely that your food stockpile will be enough, no matter how big it is. Whether or not you survive will depend a lot on your ability to grow enough food to meet your needs.

Related: The Tree That Every Prepper Should Grow In His Backyard

#7. If you’re going to be growing all that food, you’re going to need to preserve it as well. Food preservation probably started with our ancestors trying to survive the most common disaster of all… Old Man Winter. Without the ability to hunt or gather, the only food that those ancestors had to keep them alive through the winter was whatever they had harvested and dried.

Today, we have a number of food preservation techniques available to choose from. But you’d better learn how to do those, as well as stockpiling the necessary supplies. Don’t skimp on the salt, as that is needed for just about every method of preserving food.

Related: Remove This From Your Stockpile Immediately

#8. One of the trickier areas we have to be ready to take care of is our own health. While doctors and other health care professionals won’t just disappear, there will be severe shortages of the supplies they use. If you don’t have your own, you might just be out of luck.

But don’t just depend on having those supplies, you’d better have a pretty good idea of how to use them, as well. Without electrical power, you won’t be able to just go to the corner station and fill up your car’s tank. So you might not be able to get to wherever any doctors are anyway. In that case, critical things, like first-aid will become of prime importance.

Related: 50 High Value Items To Stockpile For When SHTF

#9. While waste disposal isn’t a glamorous part of survival, it is a necessary one. Human waste is one of the ways that disease travels around. Without the ability to quarantine it or dispose of it, your body’s own waste could become one of the most toxic things you deal with. Digging an outhouse isn’t all that high tech a solution, but it’s one that takes time, muscle and tools. It’s nice to have some lime on hand as well.

Of course, that’s not the only kind of waste you’re going to be dealing with, just the most dangerous. What about packaging from the food and other supplies you’ll be using? You’ll need to have some way of dealing with that too, in order to keep it from taking over and showing everyone how well you’re stocked. Even if that means nothing more than burning it, you will still have to deal with the cans and the ashes from that fire.

Related: How to Get a Year Supply of Firewood for $10!

#10. Lighting isn’t as much a need as it is a convenience. You could just do everything during daylight and then go to sleep when the sun goes down. However, we are accustomed to having more hours in the day to use, because of lighting our homes. Having some way of doing that, after the power goes out, will give you more usable time for your many survival tasks.

I’m a firm believer in flashlights, but I also recognize their limitations. Once your battery supply runs out, those fancy tactical flashlights and headlamps won’t do you the least bit of good. You’ll need to revert to something simpler, like candles and oil lamps. Do you have any way of making more oil?

Related: 8 Ways to Use Your Rancid Oil for Survival

#11. With everything listed above, chances are that you’re eventually going to attract the attention of those people who aren’t prepared. When that happens, you can count on them knocking on your door, asking you for help. Whether or not you help them is up to you, but the reality is that you can’t feed the world.

Turning people away is only a temporary solution. They’ll be back, trying again. If you keep refusing help to them, they’ll eventually come prepared to take it; and take your life as well, if that’s what’s necessary to get what you have. You’ve got to be ready for that eventuality, just like everything else.

Home defense is more than just buying guns and ammo. You’ve got to make your home defensible, essentially turning it into a fortress, preferably without doing so in an obvious way. You’ll also need a defensive plan, that you’ve practiced so that you know what to do when the time comes.

That’s my list, and it’s really just the basics. I can think of a lot of other things I’d add, like the ability to make and repair your own tools. But those aren’t the basic needs; they’re more like additional useful skills for long-term survival and rebuilding society. What would you add to this list?

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Rich M.
By Rich M. February 13, 2020 09:54
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  1. TnAndy February 13, 13:06

    1. “Without electricity, it doesn’t matter what source of heating we’re used to using… it will be out.”

    Unless of course one already uses wood as their primary heat like we do. And our backup heat is propane wall heater that needs no electricity. (and couple extra 500gal propane tanks in reserve).
    Keep 2-3 years worth of wood cut/split/stacked in dry sheds at any given time. Wood is cut from 60ac of hardwoods on our place, hauled in with tractor.

    2/3. Our water comes from a small spring high enough above the house to gravity feed (no pump needed) into two 1500gal storage tanks and on down to us.

    4. We cook with propane. Power out, it can be lit with a match instead of the electronic igniter. Can also cook on the flat top of the living room wood stove, and have an actual wood cook stove with oven in the ‘summer’

    5/6/7. Couple years worth of food in storage….dry grains/beans/rice/etc + we keep 5-6 chest freezers of home grown beef, pork, chicken, fish, fruits, vegetables. Do quite a bit of canning, root cellar our potatoes/apples. Grow most of our own food. Wife picked last of fall broccoli for example yesterday (mid Feb) from greenhouse.

    8. Medical. Yeah, the older we get, the more we’ve found we might just be better off learning more about how to take care of ourselves than depending on those pharmaceutical sales reps in white coats that pass for doctors that really have little interest in your health. So except for some cases, we might be better off on the whole if they went away.

    9. I’d guess we’ll keep using the same septic system we’ve been using for the last 40 yrs.

    10. Lighting and other electrical needs is covered by our 16kw solar power system. When the power goes out now, I flip a transfer switch and we operate pretty much as normal.

    11. Plenty of home defense equipment & ammo. House located in very defensive place at the end of a road backed up to a mountain. Gated approach covered by several battery operated alert devices (Dakota Alert), in addition to our dogs. Carefully cultivated reputation for being armed, possible PTSD problems, and taking no crap also helps.

    Reply to this comment
    • Spike February 13, 16:32

      What are your plans with the food in the chest freezers when the electricity goes out? That’s a lot of freezer space.

      Reply to this comment
      • TnAndy February 14, 00:57

        Good question, often asked.

        Couple of them we would probably can out a lot of the meats into jars, but we can run 3 easily on the amount of solar we have. They are all smaller, energy efficient freezer in the 7-9cuft range. they range from 0.37kwhrs/24hr-day to 0.80kwhrs/day, measured with a Kil-o-watt recording meter, with the average being around 0.6. So running 3 of them would draw less than 2kwhrs/day. Our system produces 50-60 kwhrs on a decent sunny day, and we have a 30kwhr battery backup.

        Normally, we’ll empty freezers thru the winter and simply cut them off, so by spring or slaughter time, we have plenty of space available. Plus that cuts the odds of losing a whole bunch of food if any freezer individually goes out, versus all eggs on one or two larger freezers.

        AND as it turns out, we probably all have the same amount of freezer space. Most people’s is at the store, the distribution center, the trucks on the road, and the manufacturer or food source. The difference is non of them control those freezers, but we control ours. No big deal…..as long as the supply system works !

        Reply to this comment
    • Mr Fred February 13, 16:52

      Wow, and I thought that I was prepared… I think that I want to move near you. 🙂

      Reply to this comment
      • TnAndy February 14, 00:58

        ahahaaa…..not the first time I’ve heard that, but sorry…..unless you bring a WHOLE lot to the table, it wouldn’t matter.

        Reply to this comment
    • 101st February 15, 17:22

      Reread the Operational Security handbook.

      Reply to this comment
  2. Get Prepared February 13, 14:21

    Regarding #2: We have an Emergency Well Tube (emergencywelltube.com) that allows us to draw water from our well without electricity. Hopefully we never need it, but it provides peace of mind that we could have clean drinking water during a crisis.

    Reply to this comment
  3. N February 13, 15:40

    It will happen no doubt about it the bible says prepare so best be ready

    Reply to this comment
  4. Stumps February 13, 16:19

    For heat, I would look into a Rocket Mass Heater to keep the place warm. All the hippies swear by them. For cooking in the summertime, I would look into one of them new-fangled rocket stoves. Collect rainwater from the roofs with a natural filter to take care of the asphalt runoff from the shingles or just replace the roof with clay or metal roofing material. For the growing of the food look into vertical farming. But that will need electricity.

    Reply to this comment
  5. left coast chuck February 13, 18:34

    Even in the 18th century there was infrastructure to support the population. Just for instance, the plastic barrel that you are using to catch the rainwater off your roof develops a large crack from sun failure. The barrel leaks too much to hold much water. How will you replace it? In the 18th century you would go to the village cooper who would trade or sell you a wooden barrel. Quick, check Google Search to see where the nearest cooper is located — dang! No Google Search. Where is the nearest cooper? Well, the nearest one to SoCal happens to be located in a small town in Kansas. Oops, that’s awkward. (I made that up. I have no idea where the nearest cooper works but I use that illustration to highlight the problem.)

    Your last pair of trousers has just given up the ghost. Okay, we will spin some wool and make yarn and the wife will weave wool cloth and make me a pair of wool trousers. Contemplate all the problems connected with that little scenario. In all the preppier novels, there just happens to be a Walmart tractor-trailer abandoned nearby. That’s handy, but I wouldn’t count on it. Trade for trousers? Sorry, everybody else is as raggedy as you are. The only lady in town who knows how to card wool, spin it into yarn and weave is so busy it is an eighteen month wait until you can trade for enough cloth to make a pair of trousers — except you have to provide the wool.

    The author has just touched on the tip of the iceberg.

    Reply to this comment
    • IvyMike February 14, 02:35


      Most woodworkers I know have fewer than 10 fingers.

      Reply to this comment
      • left coast chuck February 14, 03:51

        Mike: Jason’s woodworking shop looks just a tad more sophisticated than mine. Also it would appear that he has a bit more experience in woodworking than I. Interesting to watch. Thanks for the link. Jason still has ten fingers although I notice that none of the blades in his shop have guards on them. Obviously not a shop in the PDRK, otherwise he would have OSHA inspectors behind every lumber stack. I suspect he would be shut down within five minutes of said inspectors entering his premises. I wonder how coopers made barrels in the 18th century without all the power tools. I wonder when water powered tools come into general use? It must have been in the late17th or early 18th century I am thinking. I would have to do research to see when steam powered tools came into general use.

        Reply to this comment
    • left coast chuck February 14, 03:32

      Just to satisfy my own query, I went on line to see where the nearest cooperage was located. It turns out I won’t have to go to Wyoming or Minnesota to obtain my barrels. There is a cooperage located in each of those states. Brown and Foreman have their own cooperage and I guess sell to others.

      The good news is, I will only have to travel to Napa County to find several cooperages. Whew! What a relief. Only 500 miles instead of 1500. Should have known — wine country needs barrels to put the wine in. With more research I probably can find some cooperages closer to home as there are a fair number of wineries in SoCal.

      For those of you who think you might want to invest in a couple of wooden barrels, there is the American Cooperage Association website which conveniently lists all of its members including supplies for the do-it-yourself cooper and then the folks who also make barrels and the folks who buy barrels. Very handy should you think it necessary to acquire some wooden barrels.

      Now on to who makes spindles, spinning wheels and looms. I don’t want to have to run around in mullein leaves after the EOTW.

      Reply to this comment
  6. BigJer February 13, 18:55

    Being a military and full time civilian fire fighter, if you have no water pressure, you need to be ready to bug out now. Everyone will be heating and cooking with fire and probably don’t have a clue. Your town will burn off like a California Wildfire. No water to extinquish fire. Wear wool.

    Reply to this comment
  7. Wannabe February 13, 19:22

    I would add those additional useful skills for long term survival and rebuilding society to the list because these basic items have been addressed a hundred times over on this site. For one, reloading ammunition and bullet casting. This topic has been mentioned a couple times in comments but has never been a topic here. Claude even has a chapter in his book but I don’t recall a topic with good discussion. Might be a good idea.

    Reply to this comment
    • left coast chuck February 14, 04:05

      Wannabe: Most bullet manufacturing companies and powder manufacturing companies have books on reloading. I believe Lyman also has a book on bullet casting. Those are such involved topics I don’t think they can be covered in the brief format of this website. One could only touch on the most basic of instruction. While the most basic reloading instruction can be covered in a few sentences, it is a complicated topic with lots of caveats. The same with bullet casting: Melt some lead. Throw in some lead and/or antimony. Pour molten material into molds. Crack open molds. Trim sprue. Lube bullet. Size bullet. There you go. Bullet casting in seven easy steps. So why does Lyman have about a 250 page book on bullet casting? The devil is in the details.

      For loading data, Hodgen (spelling) has a website that one can access with loads for most cartridges in existence and multiple loads using their extensive powder line. It is free to print out but one can’t copy it and paste — or at least I don’t seem to be able to accomplish that. I wanted to leave out some of their verbiage but I can only print the whole Magilla.

      Speer, Hornady, Lyman, and several other bullet manufacturers have extensive reloading manuals. One can also purchase caliber specific reloading manuals which include data from several manufacturers. The Blue Press, Dilion Manufacturing Company in AZ carries those caliber specific reloading manuals. They are economical and give the reloader a wide range of loads for each caliber. 9mm, .38 special, .357 magnum, .44 magnum, etc. and lots of rifle cartridges too. I believe Midway may carry them also.

      Reply to this comment
      • Wannabe February 15, 03:38

        the idea of my comment was to encourage different topics instead of the same basic things that is reintroduced over and over again. It is getting redundant and needs more subject matter even if it is a basic introduction to subjects not discussed as of to date. 2 plus 2 equals 4 can only be mentioned so many times until other mathmatical equations need to be introduced.

        Reply to this comment
    • red February 14, 06:27

      Always room for another gun repairman. niio

      Reply to this comment
  8. red February 14, 00:00

    Good message, thank you! Arizona encourages solar and water storage, rain water, distilled for drinking, and grey water recycling. Most of us carry a gallon or two of distilled water in the vehicle. A minimum of a week’s supply of canned food, and dehydrated, as well. Eatable ornamental plants are common garden sights. Wood stoves are common as well, as are garden heaters. down here, cooling is essential. Up north of us, people around Flagstaff are joking they hope the snow melts by the 4th of July. Gas stoves and freezers can be bought. Composting toilets are encouraged by the state for house owners. Gun ownership is easy and in general, affordable, and most sheriff’s depts encourage it. All in all, outside the cities, most of us are ready or getting there. Much thanks to Kali-fornia for also encouraging us to be prepped. niio.

    Reply to this comment
    • left coast chuck February 14, 04:10

      Yeah, Red, you folks in AZ are going to have to fight off the zombie hordes from the PDRK in the event of an end of the world event. Better blow the bridges across the Colorado to slow them down. You also have to be concerned with invasion from the south once La MIgra is no longer operating. I mean more of an invasion than you are experiencing presently. Although with no jobs and no welfare, it might not be as much of a problem as it is now.
      With their economy not as dependent on just-in-time supply, it may be that they will be the ones experiencing an unwanted invasion from the north.

      Reply to this comment
      • red February 14, 06:58

        We have man-eating catfish paroling the Colorado. 🙂 Once the zombies manage to blow up the dams to free nature, hammerheads and tigers will eat the catfish, and the zombies.
        Viva la Miraga! AZ has plenty more than la Miraga on the border. Tohono on both sides are armed and angry. the agents live near the border and people from both sides talk to them
        It’s S. Tucson that worries folks. But, now, the ‘manos are gearing up for a get rid of the burros in the county. that mestizos are meeting as friends with blacks and ‘skins should worry the zombies.
        When the US economy goes, so will most of the mojados. there goes the dem voting base in Tucson.
        The folks here are mostly Native American, some full bloods, plenty of mestizos and metis, and gvnakii (‘skin with some African ancestry). A mestizo is more likely to pop a cap in a mojado than most folks you know. this is still a conservative state and we keep it that way. niio

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  9. Old school Marine February 14, 03:31

    If you are going to heat with wood, more is better. We found out the hard way, heat pump and inside unit both needed to be replaced. Spent 2 winters without heat, used the fireplace a lot. The amount of wood you will need is staggering. Think 5 or 6 pickup truck loads for a mild winter.

    Reply to this comment
  10. 11 should be 1 February 14, 07:01

    #11 should be #1.
    Security / Defense should always be at the top of the list.

    Reply to this comment
  11. TnAndy February 14, 08:26

    Yep it is staggering sometimes. We have our primary stove in the living room, and another in the basement used if temps get below mid teens and the upstairs stove won’t keep up. Cook stove in the ‘summer’ kitchen (room built on the back of the garage) is fired up when temps get into the single digit range to keep water from freezing out there. Then I have a large wood furnace in the shop, and another regular stove in on green house we grow over winter in…..mostly cole and salad type stuff.

    We’ll use 4-6 cords in an average year. A cord is 4’x4’x8′ or 128 cuft of wood however you stack it. About 2 standard 8′ bed pickup truck loads.

    I built 4 portable sheds on 6×6 skids I keep around the farm, moving from time to time if clearing/thinning an area. Each shed holds 4 cords. In the fall, we use tractor bucket to move contents of one shed into the basement for house use, and supply the shop/greenhouse as needed. As of today, three sheds are full, one half full, and the basement has enough to finish out the winter. I’ll move the remains of the 1/2 full shed into the basement(1-2 cords) for the start of next year and then cut/split 4 cords this spring to re-fill that shed so by summer we’ll be back to 16 cords in the sheds, and a start on next winter already in the basement. By selecting different sheds, the wood is always seasoned 2 years before use.

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  12. Felix the Cat March 29, 17:13

    Those of you with land and trees have one way of looking at it and those of us in the ‘burbs have different processes. I live on a stream that flows to a river and has never dried up since it was ponded out to provide retention and reduce flooding. Fresh water aplenty, just have to filter it. Many ways to do that. Solar stills work great on the banks, Commercial filters are easy. and sand ad chlorine are at hand. We have a lng fireplace and if that fails, propane or electric space heaters. A duel fuel generator keeps two freezers going and we count on several neighbors (of similar mindset) to support our efforts and supplies. We also have a worst case scenario bug out option with family at another location more rural and isolated. Although there is more chance form problem children attempting to trade toilet paper of food we have a wider pool of talents as well. Miedicos and masons teachers and technicians . When push comes to shooting, skills honed over a lifetime are invaluable.Keep your powder dry and stay healthy.

    Reply to this comment
  13. A R 15 April 10, 21:56

    just get a faraday cage with solar panels and the battery’s and stuff so u have ur own micro grid. great article also

    Reply to this comment
  14. dai_sca August 31, 16:50

    Carbide Lamps and Carbide Stockpile. Start fires, provide lighting source.

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