Nasa is warning that the world could face massive widespread blackouts, travel problems and damage to our power grids beginning in 2012-2013. Coming solar storms could cause a devastating blow to our power grid, causing trillions of dollars in damage that could take up to a decade to repair.
Three years ago The National Academy of Sciences warned that a powerful solar storm could cause “twenty times more economic damage than Hurricane Katrina”. They went on to say that the solar activity could completely knock out power grids, GPS navigation, banking and financial systems, air travel, & radio communications. Everyday items such as cell phones, computers and other personal electronic devices will also be damaged.
How can you prepare for such a worldwide catastrophy? There’s not much you can do about the electrical companies power grid (although they are preparing the best they can), but you can prepare your home and family for a super solar storm.
Right now, think of everything in your home that requires electricity. Like our use of water (your well pump, or if you are on city water your water company uses electricty to run their pumps and operate their valves), our dependency upon electricity is staggering. If possible every home emergency plan should include a properly protected solar power system. Even then as a backup (or as a second option) consider stockpiling propane to heat, cook, and cool with. Propane will be the new electricity after a solar storm, but without the infrastructer to keep it flowing your supplies will be limited to what you can store. Having sustainable hardwoods on your property is the only guaranteed source of power you can depend on long term.
Water is an extremely important commodity, as you use it every day for everything from cooking, drinking, bathing and sanitation. You may be surprised by the amount of water required to perform everyday tasks. Take a look at the average daily water usage for some common activities:
- Brushing teeth = 1 gallon
- Washing hands = 1 quart
- Taking a bath = 35-40 gallons
- Taking a shower = 5 gallons per minute
- Laundry = 19-45 gallons
- Washing dishes = 10-15 gallons
Amazing, isn’t it? Post-electricity such wasteful use of water can not exist unless you have an endless supply (lake, river, etc) on hand. If you have no sustainable source of water avaliable, do you have enough clean water stored for your entire family? I recommend you invest in a heavy-duty water barrel made of polyethylene. You can purchase barrels that store 15-55 gallons of water. Store these containers in a dark and cool area, add some bleach (1 teaspoon per 5 gallons), and rotate your water storage every few months for freshness.
Food equals life so it makes sense to store food. Every family has different nutrition and dietary needs, so you may be struggling with finding the right food for your family. Only you know what your family needs, and you are responsible for meeting those needs, especially when a disaster, financial crisis or family emergency occurs. Collect items for your food storage supply now! You could purchase an entire year supply at once, or you could begin gradually to build your emergency preparedness supply by purchasing a few number 10 cans of freeze-dried or dehydrated food a week or month and picking up a few extra cans of food each time you visit the grocery store. I prefer the later option. You can buy an entire years worth of food for $5/week over 52 weeks for one person.
Choose foods your family will eat, and prepare meals from that food storage. Not only will you know what items to buy more of, you will also know how to cook with freeze-dried foods and dehydrated foods.
Communication is crucial during a time of disaster, but since phones and radios primarily rely on electricity, this first link to help and information is often unavailable. In your emergency preparedness supply, you should have a Crank Or Solar Powered Radio/Flashlight on hand, or extra batteries for the one you currently have. You may even consider purchasing several Quality, Long-Range Walkie-Talkies and giving one to each family member. An off grid CB Radio Base Station is also a great way to communicate to others.
Taking survival and emergency preparedness classes is also an excellent idea, and it would be a great family activity. We recommend you and your family participate in a ham radio certification course. Ham radio, or amateur radio, may take a while to learn how to operate, and you must have a license, but during an emergency, this can be one of the only ways to get help.
Build a Faraday Cage
All these neat gadgets won’t do you any good if they get fried too. A Faraday cage is an enclosure of conducting material that blocks out external static electric fields. If the conductor is thick enough, and the holes are smaller than the incoming electromagnetic radiation’s wavelength, then that radiation won’t be able to pass through. This is the reason why phones don’t work in some buildings and lifts, why microwaves don’t cook you when you stand in front of them.
You can make yourself a Faraday cage fairly easy. I’ve included a video below that explains the process. Make sure you ground it properly and store all your precious electronic equipment inside it.
Money And Currency
Almost all modern banking is conducted electronically. While banks have vaults full of ingots and other valuables, your cash actually exists in a database, albeit one that’s backed up in multiple locations across the world, so that a disaster that’s confined to a local area can’t cause too many problems that won’t be resolved by a swift restoration of a backup.
However, that policy doesn’t work for global events. If that database, along with all its backups, gets wiped by a particularly nasty solar flare, then so does your money. Get it out of the bank, and in a safer, more physical place instead. Bury it in the garden, hide it in your roof, or stuff it under the mattress. Just get it out of the electronic database and into cold hard cash.
This is a double edged sword. Have a running vehicle can be a real blessing in a major SHTF situation, however having the ONLY running vehicle in town is like pointing a big red target on your back. If you do choose to keep a vehicle running (a great idea to at least have) then you will need an older vehicle, preferably a diesel. Look for a vehicle before electronic ignitions with a point system. Keep a backup starter, alternator, and solenoid in your Faraday cage and know how to put them on.