It is a fact of life that the lights will suddenly go out from time to time, leaving us in the dark.
Often, these power outages have an obvious cause, such as a storm. However, there are times when the power suddenly fails for no apparent reason.
We all have been through enough power outages that I think it is safe to say that no one reading this would panic and not know what to do in an outage.
However, when faced with a sudden power outage, there is one thing that we should all be doing first.
Is It A Local Grid Failure Or EMP/CME?
Whenever the power goes out, I ask myself whether the outage is a simple grid problem or an EMP, CME, cyber terrorism, or another nationwide grid-down event.
So far, every power outage I’ve been through has been short-lived and not apocalyptic, but I do take a few minutes to check the scope of the problem.
As soon as the power fails, I do what most of us do. I pull out my phone and get online to check on the outage.
If the cellular network is still active, which it should be, that would indicate that the outage is probably not due to an EMP. It does not, however, rule out a CME, cyber terrorism, or a physical attack on the grid.
These events would not be evident until you get information from outside your area.
As long as you can access the internet through your phone and the cellular data network, you should be able to determine the scope of the outage within a few minutes.
In addition, social media apps such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or even TikTok can be good resources because people will post updates almost immediately.
For example, if the outage is nationwide, a flood of people will post what they see in their area. You should see a massive volume of posts from around the country.
Of course, if every electronic device you own no longer works immediately after the power fails, it’s a safe bet that you’ve experienced the wrath of an EMP.
Once you know the situation, it’s time to take a few more immediate steps.
Make Sure Your Family Is Safe
It may seem like this should be the first thing we would do, but whether the outage is local or nationwide will determine our next steps regarding locating our family.
Reuniting after an EMP will look much different than a typical local outage, and it’s best to have all the information before implementing the appropriate emergency plan.
Hopefully, you have an emergency plan for various grid-down situations, from local outages to planet-wide grid failures. The important thing is that everyone knows what to do and how to reunite during an emergency.
During a localized power outage, getting everyone in the family back home shouldn’t have any issues.
The same would be true during most grid-down scenarios unless an EMP disables vehicles. In this case, getting home would have to be done on foot, which would take considerably longer.
Once your family is safe, it’s time to prepare for the days ahead.
Secure More Water Resources
Unless you know that the power will be restored within a day or so, you should use the first hours of the outage to fill more water containers or buckets.
You can buy specialized water bags designed to fit in a bathtub. These bags are filled with water which you can pump out as needed.
Since the average bathtub holds around 40 gallons of water, filling one up would mean that you will have ten days worth of water for a family of four.
Even if you have ample water stores, you should use water still in the pipes for as long as possible.
After a while, the pumps will stop pumping, and your taps will run dry, so taking advantage of this for as long as possible is important.
Get Ready For The Dark Hours
I am guilty of not pulling out my blackout kit until the sun sinks below the horizon.
However, it is an excellent habit to immediately grab your blackout kit and get set up for the night, even if you suspect the power outage will only last a few hours.
Use the daylight hours to preposition lanterns, headlamps, and flashlights so no one is fumbling around in the dark looking for anything when the sun goes down.
Activate Your Communications Plan
Regardless of whether the outage is due to something as serious as an EMP or as simple as a downed branch, you should activate your emergency comms plan.
Even if it is a local outage and you are not facing an SHTF situation, it is good practice to establish and maintain comms without the luxury of grid power.
Here you can learn a simple and inexpensive way that you can maintain the continuity of comms after a power grid failure or EMP.
You can also listen to shortwave radio broadcasts, which can tell you the extent of the outage.
Check On Your Neighbors
You should always be checking on your neighbors that are vulnerable or elderly, regardless of how long the outage is expected to last.
Even a simple power outage can be problematic for some people during temperature extremes, and if you can offer some help, you definitely should.
One thing that I like to do is to use every power outage as a dry run for an actual SHTF scenario.
Then, I assess all the elements of my emergency plans and supplies and see where improvements can be made.
Constant self-assessment and improvement are crucial to our continued development as preppers and survivalists, and times when the grid is down, are good opportunities.
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