If the Grid Goes Down

How to Prepare for and Survive a Major Power Outage
cold no power if the grid goes down

The electrical grid is vulnerable to disruptions from severe weather, cyber attacks, emp, geomagnetic storms and other threats. If the grid goes down, it could mean no lights, no heating or cooling, no computers, no freezer, no transportation systems – essentially an extended period without electricity. Being prepared with key knowledge and supplies can help you safely weather a major power outage.

Securing Clean Water Access if the Grid Goes Down


Having clean water is the most vital consideration for survival in a long-term grid down scenario. Here are some ways to ensure adequate access to water if infrastructure fails:

  • Store as much water as possible ahead of time. aim for at least a 2 week supply of bottled water for drinking, cooking and sanitation needs. Calculate around 1 gallon per person/pet per day. You can purchase bottled water or fill clean jugs, barrels and water storage tanks. Rotate stock to keep it fresh.
  • Have water filtration and purification systems ready for when fresh water runs out. Portable filters like the Berkey or LifeStraw Family system allow you to make found water from lakes, streams or rain safe to drink by removing viruses, bacteria and parasites. You can also disinfect water by boiling, or using bleach, iodine or chlorine dioxide tablets if safe.
  • Identify locations of natural fresh water sources nearby that you could access, such as springs, streams, rivers or ponds. Just be sure to thoroughly disinfect any water collected through boiling or filtration before drinking when in a survival situation.
  • Set up rainwater collection systems before an emergency hits. Rain barrels under drain spouts allow you to collect and store rainwater from rooftops and gutters that can be used for drinking, cleaning and hygiene if disinfected. Add gutter extenders to direct more rain water into the barrels.

Having substantial clean water stores and the ability to gather, filter and disinfect water from alternative sources is essential for survival if the taps run dry during a power grid failure. Consider pooling resources with neighbours or the community to maximize water collection and storage capacities.

emergency communication incase the grid goes down

How to Communicate if the Grid Goes Down

When the power grid fails, traditional communication channels through landlines, cell towers and WiFi can be affected. Here are some alternate communication options to consider:

  • Keep an emergency radio handy that can be powered by batteries or hand cranks when the grid is down. AM/FM radios will allow you to tune in for important news, weather reports and emergency information broadcasts. Make sure to stock up on extra batteries.
  • Two-way radios are useful for local person to person communication if the grid fails. Walkie talkies have a limited range of a couple miles but allow you to stay in contact with family or neighbours. Set agreed upon channels and privacy codes.
  • Whistles, signal flares, mirrors, flags or fires can alert others to your location visually and request help when electronic communication isn’t possible. Especially useful for those in remote areas.
  • If all else fails, designate runners or riders on bicycles who can carry messages by hand locally when an extended grid outage knocks out communication infrastructure for an area. This ensures a way to relay critical information.

Staying informed about the status of the electrical grid failure while having a way to reach out to aid and coordinate with community will be key. Have back-up communication options in place in case regular channels are disrupted.

prepping power outage if the grid goes down

Essential Steps to Take if the Power Grid Goes Down an your left Without Electricity

If the grid goes down suddenly, and the power goes, here are some key steps to take right away:

  • Do an immediate safety check of your surroundings. With no traffic lights, more accidents are likely. Watch for downed power lines, gas leaks, or other grid-related hazards. Protect yourself first before assessing the wider situation.

  • Reach out to neighbours and organize yourselves into a community. Share resources, look out for those with critical medical needs, and create an action plan together. Lone survival will be difficult.

  • Take inventory of your available resources and supplies while you still have natural light or backup lighting. Document food, water, first aid items, alternate light and heat sources and any other necessities.

  • Start rationing any food, fuel, or other critical supplies you have stockpiled. With the timeline of grid repair unknown, you’ll need to make resources last as long as possible. Limit travel and unnecessary tasks.

  • Tune your emergency radio to stay updated on the outage status, restoration estimates, and any guidance from local authorities on what steps to take or resources available. Information will empower decision making if the blackout persists.

Safely navigating the initial critical hours of a grid down scenario and mobilizing your local support system will provide the best chance of successfully weathering a major outage event.

Vital Supplies to Stock Up on for Power Grid Failure Preparation


Hope for the best but prudently prepare for the worst when it comes to the possibility of weeks or months without grid power. Here are some of the most important items to stockpile:

Light Sources

  • LED flashlights with extra batteries – allow you to safely navigate in the dark. Aim for at least one large flashlight per person along with smaller keychain lights, headlamps, lanterns etc.
  • Long-burning candles – provide localized light for weeks if rationed wisely. Store matches/lighters to light them without grid power. Never leave burning candles unattended.
  • Glow sticks – handy portable supplemental lighting sources. Survival glow sticks can provide light for up to 12 hours per stick.

Backup Power Sources

  • Solar panels – can help recharge batteries, generators and power essentials if adequate sunlight is available and they are kept clean and angled properly. Consider flexible foldable options for bug-out situations.
  • Gasoline generators – can provide on-demand electricity to refrigerators, heating systems, medical devices if you maintain sufficient fuel. Calculate your expected wattage needs.
  • Propane generators – don’t require gasoline and are useful for short term outages. Keep extra propane handy.
  • Deep cycle AGM batteries – can be paired with charge controllers and inverters to store solar energy for using appliances when sunlight is unavailable.
  • Hand crank chargers – allow you to manually generate backup electricity to charge phones or radios when needed and grid power is out.

Heating & Cooking

  • Camping stoves – allow you to still cook or boil water during an outage. Use propane or butane stoves outside only.
  • Firewood – if you have a fireplace or wood stove, stockpile seasoned dry wood to provide heat and cooking abilities.
  • Emergency blankets – mylar foil blankets help retain body heat if interior temperatures drop due to lack of heating fuel.
  • Cast iron cookware – can cook over fire or stoves when the grid is down for an extended period.

Other Critical Tools & Preps

  • Shelf-stable food – stock up on proteins, canned fruits and vegetables, granola bars, and meals that don’t require refrigeration.
  • Water containers & water filters – stock enough water and ways to gather more, then sanitize to make it potable.
  • First aid kits – be equipped to handle injuries without hospitals and pharmacies if the power is out long term.
  • Cash – have some cash available as ATMs won’t be accessible during an electrical failure.
  • Gasoline and propane – keep fuel tanks topped off for cars, generators and cooking.
  • Solar Ovens – can bake and cook food using free solar energy in a contained oven.

Make sure to tailor your grid-down stockpile to the unique needs of your family or group including appropriate clothes, medications, pet supplies and other essentials. Rotate out stock to keep it from expiring.

Stockpiling Emergency Food Supplies in Preparation for Grid Failure


When preparing for a potential electrical grid failure, having sufficient non-perishable emergency food is critical. Here are some tips for stockpiling a reserve food supply in case of a grid down scenario:

  • Store a 2 week to 1 month supply of shelf-stable foods like canned meats, canned beans, canned vegetables, granola bars, crackers, nuts, jerky, and dried fruit. These non-perishable foods can be stored long-term.
  • Consider “just add water” dehydrated and freeze dried foods that have a shelf life of 25+ years for extended grid down scenarios. These include freeze dried meats, vegetables, and full meals.
  • Pack buckets or bags with emergency food supplies in case you need to quickly evacuate. Having portable food reserves is advisable.
  • Follow the “first in, first out” principle, rotating stock using older food first to maintain freshness. Use permanent marker to label storage dates.
  • Set aside emergency water reserves for cooking dry storage foods like rice, pasta, beans, oatmeal.
  • Store foods your family already eats to avoid waste and uncertainty in an emergency situation.

Having at least a month’s supply of non-perishable foods that don’t require cooking or refrigeration is vital when preparing for the possibility of prolonged electrical grid failure. Tailor your food stockpile plan to your family’s needs.

Final Thoughts on Preparing for the Possibility of Grid Failure


Major electrical grid outages can happen unexpectedly from a range of threats. Preparing your home, capabilities and supplies to deal with extended grid-down emergencies can help safeguard your family until power is restored. Use this guide to enhance your preparedness plans. Learn skills like collecting water, alternate cooking methods without power, natural remedies, and defending your homestead in a grid down scenario. Preparedness empowers you to worry less during crises. With the right knowledge, skills and supplies, you can survive and even thrive if the grid goes down for the long haul.