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!
If you have an old fashioned oil lamp, the kind that doesn’t use kerosene or petroleum-based lamp oil, then you’re in luck! You can stock up on two preps in one bottle, saving space and money. So what is this miracal prepper item? Vegetable oil! Vegetable oil works great as a fuel, is needed for cooking and frying, and also provides your body with essential fats and oils. Even used frying oil burns without odor and without smudging. Instead of throwing away your used frying oil, save it for your oil lamps!
If you don’t have a true oil lamp you can make one from materials around your house. It only takes about 15 minutes and cost nothing.
For a “lamp” you could use nearly any small glass or metal container, old tuna cans work great for this! Just bend down the lid, lay your wick in, fill ‘er up and you’re done! For a wick you can use a string from an old mop, an shoelace, a tightly rolled up piece of paper, a porous stick, a strip of cotton underwear, jute string, or even burlap. Just experiment to see what works.
If your container needs a wick-holder (some won’t, like a tuna can with the lid bent down) improvise a piece of wire wound around a nail. Its job is to hold the wick up out of the oil. You’ll need to find a way to make it easily adjustable — as the wick burns down, you need to keep feeding a little more, and ideally there would be a way to do this without putting out the light. You can hold the coil with a pair of pliers and push the wick up with a toothpick.
The only down side is vegetable oil won’t work in a kerosene or petro-based lantern. In my expierence the oil would burn for a few minutes, but then the wick would burn down and smolder with thick black smoke. What’s going on is the oil is too thick to draw up these wicks fast enough to keep feeding the flame. They are made for thinner, more fluid oils.
Even a small improvised oil lamp burns at least an hour before the wick needs to be adjusted again. I made mine from unused items sitting around the house, all you have to do is put on your thinking cap and go scavaging. I always threw out my used frying oil but not any more! It’s good to know that we can have some light if we run out of candles and kerosene.
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.
(Reuters) – Three large explosions from the Sun over the past few days have prompted U.S. government scientists to caution users of satellite, telecommunications and electric equipment to prepare for possible disruptions over the next few days.
”The magnetic storm that is soon to develop probably will be in the moderate to strong level,” said Joseph Kunches, a space weather scientist at the Space Weather Prediction Center, a division of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). He said solar storms this week could affect communications and global positioning system (GPS) satellites and might even produce an aurora visible as far south as Minnesota and Wisconsin.
Major disruptions from solar activity are rare but have had serious impacts in the past. In 1989, a solar storm took down the power grid in Quebec, Canada, leaving about six million people without power for several hours. The largest solar storm ever recorded was in 1859 when communications infrastructure was limited to telegraphs. The 1859 solar storm hit telegraph offices around the world and caused a giant aurora visible as far south as the Caribbean Islands.
Some telegraph operators reported electric shocks. Papers caught fire. And many telegraph systems continued to send and receive signals even after operators disconnected batteries, NOAA said on its website. A storm of similar magnitude today could cause up to $2 trillion in damage globally, according to a 2008 report by the National Research Council. “I don’t think this week’s solar storms will be anywhere near that. This will be a two or three out of five on the NOAA Space Weather Scale,” said Kunches.
The NOAA Space Weather Scale measures the intensity of a solar storm from one being the lowest intensity to five being the highest, similar to scales that measure the severity of hurricanes, tornadoes and earthquakes. The first of the three solar explosions from the sun this week already passed the Earth on Thursday with little impact, Kunches said, noting, the second was passing the Earth now and “seems to be stronger.”
And the third, he said, “We’ll have to see what happens over the next few days. It could exacerbate the disturbance in the Earth’s magnetic field caused by the second (storm) or do nothing at all.” Power grid managers receive alerts from the Space Weather Prediction Center to tell them to prepare for solar events, which peak about every 12 years, Tom Bogdan, director of the center said.
He said the next peak, called a solar maximum, was expected in 2013. “We’re coming up to the next solar maximum, so we expect to see more of these storms coming from the sun over the next three to five years,” Bogdan said.
The sun is entering a period of increased activity, and massive solar eruptions are beginning to wreak havoc on modern technology. A recent solar eruption disrupted radio communication in China, and there is concern that further eruptions could disrupt daily life on a wider scale. Scientists at NASA have been warning for some time of the dangers of space weather affecting the earth, and particularly the danger of solar storms.
With the sun due to reach the top of both its 22-year magnetic energy cycle and 11-year Sunspot cycle in 2013, there’s real danger of magnetic energy damaging electronic equipment. The 11-year solar cycle is only an average, and sometimes lasts 9, or sometimes lasts 13 years. The last time it peaked, in 1859, a powerful solar eruption known as the Carrington Event struck, causing fires and shorting out telegraph wires.
According to NASA, the Carrington Event was a solar storm of such magnitude that the skies were filled with red auroras, compass needles pointed in the wrong direction, and electric current passed through the Earth’s topsoil. The storm was caused by a coronal mass ejection that hit the Earth’s magnetic field with such intensity that it created vibrations and sent currents through both the ground and atmosphere.
In previous major disturbance of the Earth’s electric grid from a solar incident, in 1973, a magnetic storm caused by a solar eruption plunged six million people into darkness in Canada’s eastern-central Quebec province. Imagine how much more powerful this disruption would be with modern infrastructure; with communications and power shorted out, global chaos would ensue. With a mobile phone in every pocket and a PC in every home, the damage could be a true “end of the world as we know it” event.
The U.S. National Academy of Sciences estimates that the disruptions and destruction caused by such storms could exceed $2 trillion and require years to rebuild all affected infrastructure and systems. A vast majority of the developed world could be without power and water for years.
“X-class flares [such as the Carrington Event] are the most powerful of all solar events that can trigger radio blackouts and long-lasting radiation storms,” disturbing telecommunications and electric grids, NASA said. Geomagnetic storms usually last 24 to 48 hours, “but some may last for many days,” read a separate NWS statement. “Ground to air, ship to shore, shortwave broadcast and amateur radio are vulnerable to disruption during geomagnetic storms. Navigation systems like GPS can also be adversely affected.”