6 Things That Will Happen If Our Power Grid Goes Down

Tyler Durden's picture

Via Joshua Krause of ReadyNutrition.com,

Imagine if you will, what would happen if you pulled an American family from the 19th century, and plopped them in the middle of downtown Los Angeles during rush hour. They’re not given a warning, they’re not given any kind of primer on what they’re about to experience, and the occurrence is completely inexplicable. How long do you suppose they would last before they cried uncle? Would they even survive? The odds probably aren’t so good.

Of course, the reverse is probably also true. If you and your family were wrenched from the comforts of the present and hurled back into a previous era, you might not fare so well either. Your survival odds would probably be a little better since you have hindsight and an understanding of germ theory. However, it would still be a pretty alien world for you. It would be littered with pitfalls that most modern people can’t even imagine. 

6 Totally Insane Things That Will Happen If Our Power Grid Goes Down

And that’s why it’s so important for everyone to prepare for the possibility that one day our grid could go down in a big way, whether it be from a terrorist attack, cyber attack, nuclear war, or solar flare. If our society suffered a widespread power failure that lasted for weeks or months, it would be no different for us than if we were suddenly sent back to the 1800’s. It would be a strange and dangerous world, and for the average person, it would catch them off guard in the following ways:

1. All commerce will cease. The ATMs won’t work, the banks won’t open, and the cash registers won’t…well, register. For a while cash will be king, but if the crisis goes on for more than a few weeks, then people will view it as worthless. We’d be back to a barter economy in short order.


2. Communications will shut down. If you think you can rely on your cell phone to work in a disaster, think again. In a crisis, when everyone instinctively reaches for their phone, that limit is quickly surpassed and the radios on the tower get sluggish, thus causing the fast-busy signal. Mobile analysts estimates that a cell site can handle 150 to 200 calls per second per sector. When a large group are making calls at the same time, the network can’t handle the amount of calls. More importantly, communications with police, firefighters, and ambulance services will cease. Many of the workers in these positions will try to soldier on, and keep doing the best job that they can for as long as they can. However, without ordinary citizens calling them to report crimes and emergencies, they’ll be helplessly watching their communities burn down around them. It won’t be long before they give up, ditch their posts, and return to their families.


3. Without electricity, all forms of fuel that our society relies on will stop flowing. All of our vehicles will be dead in the water, and more importantly, the trucks will stop delivering food. The grocery stores will be stripped bare in hours, and will not be replenished for a long time. Even if you live in an area that is rich in agricultural resources, there may be no food to be had, since those farms rely on fertilizers and farming equipment that must be delivered by trucks.


4. And of course many of those farms will lack water, as will your plumbing. For a couple of days after the power goes out, you’ll still have running water since water towers rely on gravity to feed the water to your home. However, electricity is required to clean that water and pump it into the tower. Once it’s out, that means that you won’t be able to flush your toilet. So not only dehydration be a major threat, but without the ability to remove human waste or wash your hands, every community will face daunting sanitation problems.


5. When the grocery stores are stripped bare, the pharmacies won’t be far behind. Millions of people who rely on life saving medications could die in the weeks and months that follow. But perhaps more shocking is what would happen to the people who aren’t using drugs that are immediately life saving. 13% of Americans are using opioid drugs, which are highly addictive and cause horrendous withdrawal symptoms. Another 13% of Americans are on antidepressants, and likewise, the withdrawal symptoms are pretty problematic. In other words, within a few weeks after the grid collapses, about 25% of your neighbors are going to be in an awful mental state that is not conducive for survival.


6. And finally, one of the most shocking things that people will have to deal with, is the lack of GPS. The GPS satellites will probably keep running, but eventually the devices that read those signals will give up the ghost. These days people are pretty reliant on GPS for directions, and there aren’t as many paper maps lying around. The average person is going to be utterly lost if the grid goes down.

In summary, law and order will break down at every level, and death will be around every corner. It’s one thing to grow up and live in an era that lacks electricity, but to be sent back to such a time on a moments notice would be one of the most challenging things that a person accustomed to modern amenities would ever face.

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Sonny Brakes's picture

That's okay, I still got my guitar.

FredGSanford.'s picture

Hey man, I still got my guitar too! And it's acoustic ( Martin d-41)
I might just go on the street and play for food! ( I would starve since I ain't not good but I would at least be trying).

Sonny Brakes's picture

You'd get good if you had to sing for your supper.

MalteseFalcon's picture

For a government that supposedly places the highest priority on "national security", the open southern border and the "national grid" are two curious items.

Something to reflect on the next time you get cavity searched by the TSA at the airport.

Pinto Currency's picture

What happens when the employees at 120 nuclear power plants in America don't show up for work or don't have what they need to operate the plants safely?

Not having GPS will be far from the most shocking thing people have to deal with.

Max Hunter's picture

A couple of Martin Guitars here as well.  We'd get good at remembering how songs went.. :) 

fockewulf190's picture

Speaking of cavity, it needs to also be mentioned that almost all modern dental procedures are 100% reliant on electricity. No electricity, no drilling. That means, make sure your teeth are in good shape now, because 19th century dentistry is going to be pretty barbaric. I don't know of any dentists who have an off-grid power system including storage batteries. The one who does will have work lined up until his supplies run out.

There are emergency dental kits you can buy for basic procedures, but there is going to be a booming business in pulling teeth if the grid goes down. I'm not even going to mention pain management.

TheEndIsNear's picture

That's why tooth extracting forceps are part of my preps. Pain management? I also have a large stockpile of whiskey.

Mr 9x19's picture

as long as sheeple have DL and installed the app " how to suicide properly" on their phone and still have 5min battery to use it when such event occurs, i still find myself confident with my own survival rate.

Captain Chlamydia's picture

Bring on the power outtage.  Darwin. The human race will be decimated, which is just fine with me. 

justdues's picture

what happens to the nuclear power stations ?

Calmyourself's picture


ThanksChump's picture

Many will scramble on their own: orderly shutdown.

Not all, but many.


But, you did choose to live upwind of nuclear power plants and major enemy targets of course, so that's not a problem either.

One of the greatest things about being a bonified Republican - K-selected epigenetic type, large amygdala, small PCC - is this superior ability to plan in advance, hedging every possible outcome, so that any event that isn't extinction level is survivable.


I'm weary of prep-work. Let the games begin, and may the odds be ever in your favor.

buttmint's picture

......go LONG motorcycles and snowmobiles and stashed jerry cans of petrol, benzene, gasoline (with fuel treatment added: StarTron, Marvel Mystery Oil, Stabil, etc.)

Add a SIMPLE PUMP to your wekk head. Get your attitude up ahead of the curve. All will work out.....

localsavage's picture

You better get diesel vehicles.  With the Democrats shoving more and more alcohol into the gas, it doesn't store very long.

Lurk Skywatcher's picture

Diesel engines were designed to run on vegetable oil... and they still can.

A Nanny Moose's picture

perhaps there will be work in disposing of all the bodies before they stink up the joint.

I Feel a little Qeasy's picture

We'll just eat the fuckers, two birds, one stone and all that!

Refuse-Resist's picture

There's a red house over yonder


Raffie's picture

Think of all the nuclear reactors that need power to keep cool an the chemical plants. That is not going to be pretty.

gruden's picture

I've only got an electric guitar. Crap.

gaoptimize's picture

Frank Gaffney gave a great talk at C-PAC on this issue.  The most important matter is that President Trump is about to appoint board members to FERC. and if you care about this issue that would take less than $8B to solve, you better hope he doesn't appoint industry stooges that have ignored this existential issue for decades.  Go to SecureTheGrid.com for more.

BTW:  I know many of you like myself have had reasons in the past to consider Gaffney a neocon war monger.  I believe people can learn from their mistakes and he has.  I think he'd now fit in very well with the part of Zerohedge crowd that isn'r anti-semitic.

TheReplacement's picture

We aren't antisemetic.  Some think they hate the jews.  Some might even hate palestinians.  Others might hate arabs.  Can't say that any of us hate all of them which would be required to be antisemetic.  On the other hand, we all pretty much hate zionists and pretty much all zionists are not semetic at all.


gruden's picture

Seen this attitude expressed many times here in ZH, but I think it's foolish. We will ALL suffer in some way if/when this happens. Unless you already live on a dirt farm with no electricity or running water (given your internet posts I doubt it) you will be forced to make some uncomfortable adjustments.

Squid-puppets a-go-go's picture

how annoying. that would really interrupt my pokemon Go

DIGrif's picture

I would love to see about a two week failure nationwide. THEN the little bitCON faggots would have the education necessary to pull their heads out of their asses.

fredquimby's picture

OK, I'll take the bait. 

Seriously? You think my BTC are going to go poof because of a two week power outage? 

I just can't understand this loathing of BTC by many current ZH'ers. I can't decide whether it's govt. shills dissing it on behalf of their govt, or unbelievable moronic short-sightedness, or just uneducated fucking idiots bleating on about something they can't understand; I really can't make my mind up.

Either way, get thee some if you think we will carry on with a successful digital future!! There will only ever be 22 million of them. (work that out for the gold price if there was only ever 22 million ounces of gold......) If however you think we are soon arriving at the aforementioned apocalypse, I understand it may not be the best tool for the job, so yes, you (and I) have no doubt prepared other things for that scenario.

Good luck!



therover's picture

There may only be 22 million BTC's that were farmed out of thin air, but there can be 22 million OTHER types of crypto fiat created and can be part of the crytpo-fiat equation. So which one will trump the other ? 

Bottom line is the Earth is finite and the amount of gold on it is also finite. 

Crypto fiat is just another form of fiat and that is the belief of a lot of people. Replace BTC with another form of crypto fiat and pit it against gold and you will get the same reaction/argument from the people who believe gold is the only form of true money. 


HillaryOdor's picture

I love it when people call cryptocurrencies fiat.  It shows they have no clue what they're talking about.

Bubba Rum Das's picture

"There may only be 22 million BTC's that were farmed out of thin air, but there can be 22 million OTHER types of crypto fiat create"

YOU Need-a O.K. Coin!

New, from China!

YOU needa O.K. Coin NOW...You buya O.K. Coin NOW! You Buy NOW!

TheReplacement's picture

He didn't say it would go poof.  He said it would be a lesson from which to learn - BTC isn't real.  In a real world scenario, not a two week drill, BTC doesn't work.

PlayMoney's picture

I think i will start my own, only have 10 million so mine is super rare and more expensive. I'll call it......cryposhit

TheEndIsNear's picture

Because BTC are backed by nothing except wasted CPU cycles and the wasted electrical energy that powered those CPUs. At least metals have useful properties (malleable, highly conductive, etc). What useful property does a string of computer binary digits have? Money must be a store of value, among other things. Binary digits have no useful properties and therefore no value.

In short, BTC is no better than fiat currency because both are completely useless and are only an accounting unit for credit/debt.

"Gold is Money. Everything else is credit."
~~ JP Morgan

radbug's picture

A more likely scenario will be that the American grid will die off due to old age. There'll be rolling "load shedding", aka blackouts, like South Australia experienced recently. Australia has reached that point. Hazelwood, Victoria, (1.6GW) is closing soon, and several more are of the same vintage. This outcome is exacerbated by climate change summers generating massive airconditioning load, and now, 750 mAh EV's. Yep, it's certain. Welcome to America's (& Australia's) rolling blackout future. We live in a "cold chain" economy. Have you any idea what happens to a "cold chain" economy when the power goes off for three hours??? The people of Adelaide found out.

Caught_Fish's picture

In the late '90s I ran the environmental policy for a DuPont site in Victoria, as part of that role I flew to Sydney for a meeting with other site reps. During the lunch break I got chatty with the secretary for the then environment minister, Senator Hill. She told me that as Hazelwood was a known heavy polluter it was sheduled to be decommissioned, but due to the then privatisation of electrical production and transmission lines it was sold off with a permit to run for (if I recall correctly) ten years.

The DuPont site closed soon after, it was the third largest consumer of electricity in Victoria. Since then an aluminium smelter closed and the three car manufactures Ford, GMH, Toyota have closed or are closing. These industries were number one and two users of electricity.

Electricity prices are now more than double and going up again this year, this is purely profit clawback. The consumption losses by industry closures make up for the loss of Hazelwoods production.

QuantumEasing's picture

What will be even more interesting is a "Cold start" if and when the grid goes down.

SadhakaPadma's picture

In two years free energy will come...everybody will have small box of energy. WE are very close....all this talk is going disapear. Bitcoin forever.

turnball the banker's picture
turnball the banker (not verified) SadhakaPadma Mar 1, 2017 3:59 AM

What happened to Magrav technology or was that more bs?

fredquimby's picture

Went the same was as the e-Cat I guess..... or is this what he means by a small box of energy ?



QuantumEasing's picture

I already have a small box of energy. 3 ferrets in a FedEx box. Whoa nelly.

erk's picture

About 1.2billion people around the world don't have electricity, it's called energy poverty, and they still survive. The article is alarmist crap.

Refuse-Resist's picture

I think you're mistaken. We're talking a first world country here where most people couldn't identify a plant or animal as food if it isn't labeled as such; where people couldn't grow a garden because they never have, a country where people are totally dependent on the internet, social media, cellphones, GPS, government transfer payments, electronic currency, and of course pharmaceuticals.

Comparing the wilds of the Congo (no electricity) to USA and saying that USA people can handle it because Congo people can handle it, is like saying you could remove every Japanese person from Japan, replace them with Somalians (to a man), and that Japan would still be Japanese with 60 million Somalis living there.

Because muh equality.

BULL FUCKING SHIT.  Large parts of the US going dark will result in anarchy in record time. Failure to acknowledge and prepare for this fact due to normalcy bias will cause great regret, harm, and likely death for many who adopt that mindset when the hammer does finally drop.

You keep telling yourself that US people equal Congo people.

I will keep stacking.



Reality Creator's picture

How the entire grid goes down at once is not described as a probability, but for the sake of wondering what would happen, it would be much worse than the author described. No one can last 48 hours without power in suburbs and cities = 85% of the population: no food, fuel, lights, communications, water, sewer, transportation, health care, police-fire, and no entertainment.

A novel flu virus that has a high kill rate would sicken the high-end professional grid operators, as well as everyone else. An EMP will be localized to hemispheric regions, perhaps Canada down to the midwest, maybe out over the Pacific Ocean, etc. A cyber attack could be designed to cause cascading failures, but hitting all the regional grid points at once? We have bigger problems to worry about under the nuclear exchanged scenario.

By the time the grid can be entirely compromised it is likely the power supply to the USA will be sufficiently decentralized to prevent too much of it going down at once.

QuantumEasing's picture

A CME (Please STOP referring to it as an EMP, which is a small, localized manmade event) would NOT be "Localized." Depending on the severity of the storm, the whole planet would be exposed. There is a 12% chance of a Carrington-level event in the next ten years.

Currently, the largest EMP device can only affect about a ten city block radius. Would need quite a few of these to have anything other than a local effect.

A high-kill flu virus does not exist. Never has. Orthomyxoviridae family is high-virulence but low-mortality. Very little can be done to change that. Please cite an example (NOT the 1918 mass-aspirin poisoning), otherwise.

Cyber attack *is* a concern, since some nimrod thought it would be a good idea to connect the grid to the internet. The recent DDOS attacks using web-enabled security cams shows how rabidly idiotic the "internet of things" paradigm has become.