What happens when the grid goes down?

Slowly and incrementally I’m chatting up the whole global economic collapse with family and friends. I’m doing this in pieces because everyone knows me to be rational, intelligent and not prone to knee-jerk, reactionary, alarmist viewpoints. People don’t understand. People ask what does that mean ‘the Grid Going Down’? I explain. The “Grid” are the utilities we use, the electricity that powers our homes, the water that flows to our sinks, baths and showers, the natural gas that powers our stoves, ovens and furnaces. The ‘grid goes down’ means the electrical power grid becomes disabled. No power to your home.

‘Well how could the grid go down’ they ask? I explain. Look what just happened in Connecticut where 50,000 homes were without electrial power for weeks. Luckily, it occurred in November instead of January. This really highlights how dependent virtually every urban household in Ameria has become on the grid. Sure we can live without lights for a couple of days, weeks if need be. We could even live without hot water for days or weeks. But we cannot live without heat especially for those living in the northern latitudes like Detroit, Minneapolis, Chicago, etc.

A recent article appearing in the Toronto Sun (http://www.torontosun.com/2011/11/12/digging-in-for-judgment-day) describes the impact of the grid going down. Jim Rawles is a former U.S. Army Intelligence Officer, a survivalist and author of one of the most popular survivalist blogs on the internet (www.SurvivalBlogs.com). The article contains a quote from Rawles: “.. the average suburbanite who is suddenly going to be faced with the prospect of either freezing to death in the dark or fleeing to go live with country cousins, that is, hopefully they have them, otherwise they are out of luck.”. Yikes. What an ugly scenario.

If you can’t heat your home and you have no friends or family to go live with–you and your family may be stuck at the local high school gymnasium (assuming your local government creates ‘heating’ centers where people can stay to get warm). And if things get really bad, you may end up in a FEMA emergency camp (oh lordy).

For many urban preppers, this heat issue is the achilles heel. Without heat, the preppers may have to forsake their food, weapons, ammo and other emergency supplies to stay warm–to stay alive. You can’t walk into the local shelter with rifles, shotguns strapped across your back, etc. Of course many preppers will fire up the generators to keep warm! How long before the gasoline runs out? if the grid does down and stays down, how long before the gasoline shortages start? Assuming your generator doesn’t get stolen–because everyone else in the neighborhood is freezing to death–how many weeks (possibly months) of fuel will it take until the Spring thaw! I just don’t see how we can survive even weeks without heat.

Blankets, solar blankets you say? Wood burning stove. Fireplace. Yes, these will help. But here’s the problem. In Chicago, it is not uncommon to see temperatures (w/wind chill) drop to -30, -40, -50 degrees below zero in January/February. Good luck with your solar blanket. People will be tearing the drywall down and starting fires in their living rooms to stay warm.

So the question begs: Will We Freeze to Death? The answer is NO if you are prepared. Can you say wood burning stove! If you don’t have one, get one, even a small one can generate plenty of heat to stay alive! Buy it, install it, stockpile wood and a good chain saw (for foraging).

Many say the power would be restored within a reasonable timeframe. I asm them: Are you sure? Severe weather can certainly knock out the grid as just occurred back East with the snowstorms in Connecticut but there are other causes for the grid goes down including cyber-terrorism.

Recently, National Public Radio (NPR) had a two-day broadcast on the Stuxnet super cybervirus (http://www.npr.org/2011/11/02/141908180/stuxnet-raises-blowback-risk-in-cyberwar). ‘Stuxnet represented a nightmare: a dangerous computer worm that in some modified form could be used to attack an electric or telecommunications grid, an oil refinery or a water treatment facility in the United States.’ This insidious virus infects and disables industrial power grids, water purification plants, telecommunications and more. Stuxnet was suspected of disabling an Iranian nuclear research facility two years ago. More recently, an article from ComputerWorld.com (Click me to read) states “Homeland Security warned that with all the hacking conferences and common pen testing software, the industrial control systems that are connected directly to the Internet could be easily located and hackvists could point, click and destroy. So you see, friends and family, cyber-terrorism is a risk, our grid is vulnerable and likely will continue to be moreso in the near future.

What happens when the grid goes down? Will We Freeze to Death?

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