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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TheEndIsNear's picture

Nuclear weapons are excellent EMP devices that effect FAR MORE than ten city blocks. How about a 50 megaton hydrogen bomb exploding a few miles above the center of the USA?

Ten city blocks??? I think not.

QuantumEasing's picture

You said it correctly:

"You think not."

Don't feel left out, it's pretty common.

Unicorn riding Valkyrie cavalry are more likely as a threat than "Newks."

Science is science. Or, put another way, I'm not particularly concerned about "newkuler weapons."

Neither were the Germans, who stopped researching a dry hole in 1942. Their Whirlwind bombs were (and still likely are) the most powerful man-made explosives, pound for pound.

Likely what was used on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, since there is NO detectable radiation (and before you flip out, I have been there, and taken soil samples and readings).

And no craters either. Which from an impact detonation, is pretty much guaranteed. (Another tiny detail: a "mushroom cloud" can only happen with a ground burst).

Never mind that no one should be living there for the next thousand years. Whoops. Tiny little detail.

Among dozens of others. Doncha love science?

ETA: and why not a hundred Megaton, or a thousand? Since we can just make shit up, why not a MILLION MEGATON WEAPON?! Muahahah!

When you can show me the proof that banging two rocks (chunks of Uranium) together makes an explosion (without a moderator even!), I *might* give it some credence. Then would need to see a test (not a gasoline bomb exploding on a soundstage) with a spectrometer pointed at it.

But since the finest scientific minds in the world (The Germans) basically washed their hands of it in 1942 and pursued more interesting research, I'm inclined to go with the whole "biggest hoax of the 20th century."

Slayer's picture

Total anarchy. If you think people are self-centered now, just wait until the SHTF. Keep the powder dry.

Slayer's picture

Total anarchy. If you think people are self-centered now, just wait until the SHTF. Keep the powder dry.

HillaryOdor's picture

On the contrary I think it would be chaotic.  Anarchy would be the most peaceful type of society.

TheEndIsNear's picture

Not to mention that the population density in most USA cities is much greater than in the Congo.

skbull44's picture

Falling from the penthouse to the sidewalk is a lot more likely to kill you than falling from the sidewalk to the gutter.

yellowsub's picture

You might have an advantage, do you think those people down below would want to walk up all those stairs to get to them?


Cloud9.5's picture

NASA predicts we have a one chance in eight of a solar flare taking down the grid.  My buddies on the left are convinced Trump is going to start a nuclear war with the same people they claim got him elected.  My buddies on the right are convinced that John McCain and the deep state are trying their damndest to start a nuclear war with Russia. Just one nuke properly located detonated at a high enough altitude would take down the grid.  Then there is the potential for economic collapse accompanied by a supply chain collapse that would result in open urban warfare.  That could shut down major portions of the grid.  So, the potential for a shutdown is real.

Unless you have lived through a partial shutdown you have no idea of the interconnected consequences of a prolonged power outage.  Those of us who lived in Highlands and Hardee Counties here in central Florida got a taste of this scenario when three hurricanes targeted our region back in 04.  Miles of power poles were snapped like twigs on highway 636.  The transformers on the lines that supplied my neighborhood exploded one after another.  Watching them go off was spectacular and frightening at the same time.

The first thing that struck us was the total darkness that followed the event.  We were all accustomed to the light pollution that permeated the night sky.  We were unprepared for the total darkness that followed.  A sky full of stars was amazing.  Refrigerators began to immediately defrost. People cranked up their grills and the air was filled with the smell of barbeque all up and down the street.  We all ate very large for the next couple of days.  Those that had R.V.s cranked up their propane refrigerators and salvaged some of the food.  Most of the frozen vegetables rotted. One in five hundred had a generator.  Within five days most people were completely without food.

Sewage began to backup almost immediately.  The lift stations ran on electricity and hundreds of homes could not flush their toilets.  Those of us who were on septic tanks learned very quickly that toilets could be flushed with a five gallon bucket half full of water.  Those of us who lived on the edge of lakes and streams had plenty of water to flush with.  Those on sewer or with no access to water began to embrace the stench that filled their homes.

The water companies ran out of diesel for their backup generators. Within two weeks we were out of water.  There was none for drinking, none for washing and none for bathing.  We all endured this with 90% humidity and 90 degree heat.

Grocery stores, pharmacies, all kinds of retail simply shut down because no one knew the price of anything because the scanners could not read the bar codes.  Some intelligent managers gave food away at restaurants and grocery stores before it spoiled.  Most of the food rotted.

There were no traffic lights on highway 27 or anywhere else.  There were no police patrols.  There were no land lines and all the cell phone towers were out of power.  There was no communication with anyone to include 911.  Gas stations still had gas in their tanks but they had no way to pump it. People began to run out of gas.

Two things kept our community from experiencing the zombie apocalypse.  First off, everybody realized that the damage was local.  Radio stations kept the public informed as to the progress in restoring the grid and informed the public where supplies could be picked up.  The second calming thing was the visible efforts of hundreds of line crews from all over the United States working every day light hour to restore the grid.  We all knew that our plight was temporary.  That knowledge made all the difference in the world.

A million people without power for a few days can be contained.  Three hundred million without power and no prospect of getting it restored is a whole different paradigm.  It has previously been said that we are roughly nine meals away from chaos.  From what I have personally seen, I believe this to be absolutely true.

Our experience here in central Florida has schooled us.  Most of us who can afford it, have generators that run on propane.  Most of us have wells as alternate water sources.  Most of us have a month’s supply of food on hand, and most of us are well armed.  A few of us have plans to flee to the scrub in the event of total collapse.

The odds are that we will limp along for another decade or so experiencing brown outs and gradually people will adapt.  If the grid goes down in a nano second, there will simply be collapse and all that collapse brings.  Make your own choice.




Radical Marijuana's picture

YES. "... We all knew that our plight was temporary. 

That knowledge made all the difference in the world."

The younger I was, the more I attempted to "be prepared."

However, the older I get, the less I attempt to be prepared.

Cloud9.5's picture

If your are alone that makes perfect sense.  If you have others depending on you it makes no sense at all.  By the grace of God I have grandchildren.

TheEndIsNear's picture

An older person has fewer years to worry about preparing for than a younger man. One pair of shoes would last a 90 year old man the rest of his life for example.

QuantumEasing's picture

The CME/Carrington event is currently the most likely Major Scenario on my list. In order of probability, they are:

1. CME
2. Super Caldera
3. Grid-down due to Cyber attack or cascade event.

Your buddies on the left are wrong, and there is a 0.000% chance of "Newkuler War."

So, like Kubrick said, Stop Worrying and Love The Bomb (as long as it's not The Brown Bomb(er)).

SpanishGoop's picture

No more CNN, BBC etc. the horror.


VWAndy's picture

 Where there is the will there is a way.

Is-Be's picture

That's " Where there's a Willy there's a way"

Concertedmaniac's picture

I use to really buy into this alarmist stuff but now I realize you're mostly full of shit. Numbers will be thinned of course but the Militia will keep law and order.

Is-Be's picture

Using their high tech equipment. What could go wrong?

I suppose that they could shoot the problems with their 44 magnums.

Refuse-Resist's picture

Like Public Enemy once rapped:


Don't fight the power, shoot the motherfucker!

OCnStiggs's picture

CM is correct.

The typical "doom porn" script is, "Grab your go-bag and bug out!" This is a vastly dumb idea for many reasons.

First, the place where you are going may not let you in. I have a friend in Idaho and he said the minute the SHTF the local "militia" shuts down the roads into Idaho. You are not getting in unless you bring your own supplies and you have an sponsor. Running out of Manhattan for the hills and back country of New Jersey? The people in NJ might have something to say about that.

Second, the roads will become blocked by cars out of fuel. Most people have less than a half a tank, ever. Even if you have a full tank, you'll be blocked by them. Additionally, the criminal element will simply wander down the jammed roads and freeways, killing "easy target" escapees and taking their valuables. You will have to already be where you are going because getting there after SHTF will be very hazardous.

Third, the whole concept only makes sense if you OWN your bug out location and you BEAT someone else from taking it over. It had better be stocked. Hauling a houseload of supplies is a poor idea.

Finally, as the first example illustrates, local citizens will have to undertake defense of their own streets. Then their neighborhood. Then their town. The concept of "hunkering down in your home alone" is a pathway to failure. The Law Enforcement establishment will dissolve after about 72 hours as LEOs head home to take care of their own. Citizens who step up to maintain security will have a much more normal experience. Those who disappear into the chaos will never be seen again.

Just sayin'.

quasi_verbatim's picture

Bill and Melinda have a population suppression vaccine to help wth this.

Refuse-Resist's picture

Yep.  Check out Vaxxed.

It's available on Amazon Prime.

Watch. Learn. Act.

E. Phil Chew's picture

Book:  "One Second After", by William Forstchen - history author, good man.  Give it a read.  Deadly serious look at what if.  The follow-up is okay ("One Year After).

Megaton Jim's picture

Got both on my iPad, good read!

Trubador's picture

The first book was very eye-opening, and pretty thorough and well thought-out (with some unfortunate typos due to poor editing, e.g., "could of" instead of "could've"). I started the second book and am only 1/4 of the way through it. The title is misleading. Seems a bit weaker, but I'm not finished with it yet to give a full thumbs up or down. Was waiting for Book 3. Glad to know it's out now. Thanx!

skbull44's picture

And see this one based on Richard Duncan's Olduvai Theory: http://olduvai.ca.

Direct Democracy's picture

I read it. The book was about an EMP strike that not only took out the grid but also destroyed all electronics.  No communication, cars, internet, refrigeration, or diesel back-up power.  Sure, it is a doom and gloom book, but it makes you think.  A lot of people would die.  It doesn't hurt to have at least 60 days of food, water, medical drugs, and of course, guns.

QuantumEasing's picture

Just have to mentally replace "Newks" with "CME." Other than that, decent read.

Megaton Jim's picture

7. Any blacks found wandering around in my neighborhood will be shot on sight.

shocktherapy's picture

Thats why your neighborhood will be easy to infiltrate.

Hybrid and Other Modern Gangs


Sun Tzu "use of spies"


Refuse-Resist's picture

Just think how many violent crimes would be prevented under such a policy, anywhere in the USA right now.

Unfortunately good people are not allowed by law to be proactive. We must wait to be attacked then make excuses for the attackers, blame our own racism, then let them go to attack again.

Clearly that model doesn't work.


I like your idea about a million percent better.



kalliste23's picture

I've got a house in the Philippines... the grid goes down all the time.  No big deal.

ambishop's picture

How about, when the nuclear reactors no longer have attention and the diesel backup generators run out of Diesel?  

You are kidding yourself to think that you will not see Fukushima times 1000

When the grid goes down, next step is melt down



Let it Go's picture

If you think the government will help you are screwed. The government is not the most efficient organization in the world.  High profile incidents covered by the media often reassures the public that the government stands ready to rush to our aid in case of a national disaster. Following a tornado or hurricane in the news, we often see FEMA workers spread out and moving from door to door offering help to Americans in need.

This reassuring media coverage is misleading. Be prepared that in the case of a major crisis or disaster if you find yourself in a large area of devastation the government will prove largely ineffective. If and when a really large Armageddon event does occur we will quickly become acutely aware that God helps those who help themselves. More on why this pandering in disasters is really a disservice to all of us in the article below.


UmbilicalMosqueSweeper's picture

Governments are only interested in sustainability of themselves.  People who are considered to be critical to that end will be protected.  The masses will be looked upon as sacrificial pawns in the game of power...as they now are.

FredFlintstone's picture

A nutritionist speculating on the power grid going down? Hmmm, interesting. If it is the result of a nuclear war, I doubt the grid would be at the top of our concerns at that point. A solar flare can be planned for. We will know it is coming and we can take precautions like temporarily powering down electronics. A terrorist event would be localized. As we descend into a third world country I can see lack of maintenance an issue that could affect the grid's reliability as well as power production. That may be decades away.

dunce's picture

The only reason that it has not gone down is that there has not been a serious effort to bring it down by wide spread attacks. Immigration has not reached high enough levels and a coordinated plan has not been developed. Hydro electric will be the highest priority because it is the hardest to get back on line, rebuilding dams takes years and base loads will be shifted to plants that will auto matically shut down from overloads. Nuclear and coal have been under attack for years and largely eliminated. Gas lines are huge easy targets in remote areas.

deimos178's picture

I used to worry about this and prepped for it. Now I am going ot retire and move to a gated golf community in FL. I don't care anymore, I used to, but I take a pill for that now. 

UmbilicalMosqueSweeper's picture

A well-sized coffin would be a good choice for yourself. Just lay in it and close your eyes.

Taint Boil's picture

Golly gee  ... no GPS - [need.... map.....now....] oh look! there is a link in the article and I can buy maps from them ....wheeew, that was a close one. Don't need a GPS / map if car doesn't have gas dumb-ass.

UmbilicalMosqueSweeper's picture

Better have your caches marked on a physical map, or have their locations memorized. Gladio III teams won't have any problem finding their stashes.

Let it Go's picture

Yes, it is clear that if we lost power for any length of time big problems would arise. For a glimpse into real "gloom and doom" take a moment and ponder the possibility of a devastating cyber-attack on America's power grid. This is not only possible but more likely than most people realize.

As both a country and as a culture are shockingly unprepared for such an occurrence. In fact our whole society has become based on what we consider an unending flow of current. Few among us has researched the topic of grid failure to any degree but to those interested in how this might occur and effect the county the article below delves into this subject.


Secret Weapon's picture

It would be easier just to give 50 well trained shooters a Barret 50 cal and 30 rounds of AP ammo, break them up into two man teams and set them loose on the monster transformers that are the choke point for the entire system.  Coordinate the action and it will be grid down for two years.  Cheap, easy and impossible to defend against. 

Ansare's picture

What??? An alarmist story on Zero Hedge!!!??? I'm shocked I tell ya! Shocked!!

Jethro's picture

Hmmm, all that sounds like a pretty good time to me.

Refuse-Resist's picture

At first I thought it was a Snyder article, but then I realized it was on ly a 6 spot list.

Not doomy enough.

Stu Elsample's picture

Two more things will happen.....

7. When the power lines go dead, entrepreneurial lowlife niggers and mexicans will steal the copper wire.

8. Many linemen will get overtime pay to replace the copper wire that niggers and mexicans had stolen.

Jethro's picture

I liked your analysis. But, I'd like to add, for an extended power outage;

Recurrance of dysentary, and eventually cholera

Increased foodborne disease