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.
Failure of major transmission lines on Thursday cut power to millions of people in Southern California and northwestern Mexico.
RECENT TWEETS – Follow #PrepperTalk on Twitter for more info! San Diego Officials 8:45 p.m. ET – “if you have a personal family emergency plan, please activate it now.” I wonder what could be brought through border with the power turned off & everyone busy? Possible terroist getting ready for 9/11 KPBS says “some customers may be out for days” and that “officials do not believe it is related to terrorism.” San Diego power outage map. http://www.sdge.com/outages/outageMap.shtml San Onofre Nuclear Power plant is in emergency shut down.
The problem extended from San Clemente, Calif., in southern Orange County south to San Diego, the nation’s eighth-largest city, and on to Mexico’s Baja peninsula, and east to Yuma, Ariz. It cut electricity to millions of people, including 1.4 million served by San Diego Gas & Electric.
The outage began at 3:38 p.m. when a transmission line running from Arizona to San Diego failed, triggering a cascade of events that then knocked the region’s other electricity provider — the San Onofre nuclear power plant — offline.
“Essentially we have two connections to the rest of the world — one to the north and one to the east — and both of those connections were severed,” he said. “We actually don’t know what happened to the line. All we know is the line went out.”
Gas stations are closing down, with no power to pump fuel and no means of processing transactions. Hospitals around the county were operating off back-up power generators, and officials at several facilities said patients weren’t in any danger.
At the University of California San Diego hospitals in Hillcrest and La Jolla, full power was being delivered to emergency rooms, burn units and other critical areas such as operating rooms that were in use when the blackout occurred, said spokeswoman Kimberly Edwards.
The power failure has thrown a wrench in the everyday life of a modern society that is heavily dependent on electricity. The outage shows how fragile our energy system is.
The outage also left an unknown number of people stranded in elevators across the county.
Luque said the fire department is not responding to ringing fire alarms unless there is a report of smoke and fire, and even then fewer engines may be sent than usual. The city’s contract ambulances have been swamped with calls for service, so patients at traffic accident scenes have been taken to hospitals on fire engines, Luque said.
SDPD 911 system is running on backup generators and is being overwhelmed. “People are calling 911 when they should be calling SDG&E,” Mohler said. “Don’t call 911 unnecessarily,” Luque warned. “Legitimate emergency calls can’t get through.”
All this is great proof that PREPARING SAVES LIVES! With no gas, no ambulances, and soon no 911 things may get messy if they don’t get the power on quick. Be Prepared! Be Survival!
People who depend on a well for their water have learned to fill up up all available pots and pans when a thunderstorm is brewing. What would you do if you knew your water supply would be disrupted for a few hour? Assuming you don’t already have long term water preps (or you don’t want to use them up) here are a few options in addition to filling your pots and pans:
- The simplest option is to put two or three heavy-duty plastic trash bags (avoid those with post-consumer recycled content) inside each other. Then fill the inner bag with water. You can even use the trash can to give structure to the bag. (A good argument for keeping your trash can fairly clean!)
- Fill your bath tub almost to the top. Without a waterBOB Emergency Bathtub Water Storage, you won’t want to drink this water, but it can be used to flush toilets, wash your hands, etc.
- Shut off the breaker to your hot water heater and drain it into buckets and other containers (caution: surprisingly enough the water inside hot water heaters is HOT)
If you are at home, a fair amount of water will be stored in your water pipes and related systems too. To get access to this water, first close the valve to the outside as soon as possible. This will prevent the water from running out as pressure to the entire system drops and prevent contaminated water from entering your house.
Then open a faucet on the top floor. This will let air into the system so a vacuum doesn’t hold the water in. Next, you can open a faucet in the basement. Gravity should allow the water in your pipes to run out the open faucet. You can repeat this procedure for both hot and cold systems.
As mentioned above your hot water heater will also have about 40 gallons of potable water inside it. You can access this water from the valve on the bottom. Again, you may need to open a faucet somewhere else in the house to ensure a smooth flow of water. Sediment often collects in the bottom of a hot water heater. While a good maintenance program can prevent this, it should not be dangerous. Simply allow any stirred up dirt to again drift to the bottom.
After Hurricane Irene hit the east coast many people wanted to snicker about what they considered overblown hype in the face of the storm. Past hurricanes such as Camille, Ivan, Frederick, Rita, and Katrina made Irene pale in comparison. And as a northern friend of mine said to me today, when the storm finally reached her, it had downgraded to a tropical storm.
You don’t need life-altering devastation to find yourself totally unprepared and facing hunger, water scarcity, and loss of property. All it takes is a small storm. By mid-week, there were still over 563,000 in New York sitting in the dark, over 400,000 people in Virginia without power, and the slow response to power outages in New Jersey has left thousands of residents disgruntled and angry.
Five days after Irene nearly 2,000,000 people were STILL without power. Stop right now and think….can I last 5 days without power? How will I cook? Will my water still work? Probably not if your water company is out of power too! What will I eat? How will I see at night? Will I still have gas for my car? How will I know what’s going on?
It’s the smaller upheavals that seem to catch us unaware and leave us desperate for some port in the storm. Knowing your absolute essential emergency needs, having a survival plan, and preparing beforehand will help you survive whatever comes your way. Which is the message I hope to impart to my readers.
Residents living in Maryland, found themselves facing the threat of Irene and the probable outcome of loss of power, flood damage, and dwindling food stores. Those who were prepared with generators were able to avoid the inconveniences of living off the power grid for nearly a week.