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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Stu Elsample's picture

no problem....

#1...i keep emergency cash in the safe, and when cash is no longer king i have plenty of ammo

#2...won't have to answer the phone

#3...won't have to go to work

#4...i'm on city water, but also have a well and a hand operated pump for just such an emergency

#5...already well stocked on food...18 months worth, and gardening is fun

#6...i already know where I'm at

rent slave's picture

A little history lesson:When the power broke down in NJ during Sandy,the cities were the first to have their power restored as the 1st of the month was approaching.TPTB had no stomach to see little Mogadishus springing up in Newark,Camden,and other places.

UmbilicalMosqueSweeper's picture

There will be no power restored if an EMP event happens.

Bopper09's picture

Or a large enough solar flare, that we're overdue for.

Cardinal Fang's picture

I have a great food storage setup and about 100 water bricks plus a bunch of other survival shit.
Combat Aircrew Survival training really comes in handy, too.


Mr.Kowalski's picture

#7. The export of food stops along with the trains and trucks. Most people in the Middle East and Africa immediately begin hoarding food, which itself causes food shortages, nevermind the now cut off supply of probably half their food supply. Societal instability, riots, boat refugees in 3,2,1

Lost in translation's picture

How do you prep for dysentery and cholera?

atthelake's picture

Buy your meds now. Buy electrolyte replacers and learn how to make your own. It's all online. One good source is www.survivalblog.com

pine_marten's picture

You forgot about the dozens of nuke plants that will melt down.

rphb's picture

Imagine that a new carrington event happens, that short circuit the power everywhere on and off world. The satellites will be the most vulnerable so GPS will go down immediately.

The other effects mentioned here will also all happen. But longer term people will adapt and rebuild. And power can be brought back, the parts just needs to be build.

It is problematic for America as they don't have the industrial capacity anymore for building the large transformer stations that are the heart of the electric grid, that have all been outsourced to China, and China will not help the USA get back on its feet, it will concentrate on rebuilding the grid in China.

USA will not survive such a solar flare. The people that will survive will be organised in much smaller communities, and once independence have been achieved they will have no incentive to give it up again.

joeyman9's picture

I like your scenario!!!  Decentralization is the touchstone of freedom.

Bryan's picture

BS.  We will do fine, just like on 1/1/2000.  The doomsayers will be proved wrong again.

atthelake's picture

People with common sense gave that a 2 or 3 % chance of happening. Now, people who understand our rulers have turned against us, know it's a matter of when and how bad.

MuffDiver69's picture

Feel good story of the day....Everytime I read these stories I'm glad I have my sailboat on the pier in backyard..GPS my ass...learn to navigate like old...I have a plan and it's not brain surgery...will see...mobility folks and lots of purification methods...oh...guns,knives,explosives....

joeyman9's picture

Even the Navy Academy is, once again, teaching people how to use a sextant and do sight charts.

sauldaddy's picture

You forgot the most important thing dipshit .
All nuclear reactor plants would melt down and explode killing everybody within weeks if not days.

RedBaron616's picture

I am sure nuclear reactors have backup generators to allow for an orderly reactor shutdown.

CRM114's picture

They have several means of doing so - normally 3 - unless of course the basement with all of them gets drowned by a tidal wave, like Fukushima, in which case you're pretty much hosed.

THX1137's picture

What about the nuclear power plants?  Without grid power and fuel to run the backup generators they will all melt down in short order. The thousands of tons of "spent" fuel rods will overheat and burn up. There would be far more radioactive dust and smoke than if nuclear bombs went off.  It would be a radioactive version of "The Road."  Without grid power for a few weeks the world would likely be over for all life. 

joeyman9's picture

THAT is the most likely scenario - raidoactive debris all over the world.....esp the northern hemisphere.

aliens is here's picture

Inner city blacks will have a field day of rioting and mayhem when EBT cards don't work.

UmbilicalMosqueSweeper's picture

They alrady are. Just expect more ShitCongos.

gswifty's picture

God's waiting room, Florida, will be in a world of hurt. Bring out your dead!

SmittyinLA's picture

What AMERICA needs is a "smart grid" controllable by computer hackers and the weather to go with its Socialist carbon taxes.

slwsnowman40's picture

The beauracries will implode all over the globe and all snowflakes, leftists and dems will die of dehydration from crying due to their devices no longer working.

sister tika's picture

Most of the US power grid is 50 years (plus) old. Our oldest big cities are the worst.

atthelake's picture

Nuclear power plants without electricity could be an Extinction Level Event.

UmbilicalMosqueSweeper's picture

Fuckushima is already an extinction event.  A few more damaged nuclear plants would just speed-up our demise.

hutnela's picture

This story got my hopes up... that there was a grid down event about to happen. I skimmed over it looking for a plot that threatened the grid... nothing. We already know WHAT will happen, but what we want to know is... how much longer do we have to wait???

bloofer's picture

The absolute number one issue in a power-outage situation is water. I lived for a number of years in a rural area where we had to haul water to fill the cistern, which of course supplied water to the house with a pump. If the power went out, water could still be drawn up from the cistern with a bucket. But ultimately my water source was city water hauled from the water station in the nearest town. As a result of this experience, I have a pretty good idea about water issues--one of which is hauling water in winter when the roads are impassable.

In a rural area, you can work around almost every other issue related to a power outage. You can heat with wood, cook on the wood stove, and provide lighting with candles and kerosene lamps. If you have a full cistern, you will have plenty of water for the short term, though you'll spend a lot of time pulling up buckets of water. You can even devise a rainwater-collection system for filling your cistern--but you'll need some kind of filtration system for that, as well. You could still flush the commode with a bucket, if you felt you could spare the water. Or you could rig up a composting toilet pretty quickly.

In urban areas, there would be no work-arounds that I can think of--or none that would be anywhere near adequate. Millions of people living in high population areas being unable to flush is not a pretty picture. And where would the urban hordes flee to, if the only people with water were the few people with their own wells? 


Faeriedust's picture

Luckily by the time the urban hordes realize that they're screwed, the gas pumps won't be working and the only way to get out will be to walk.  Anyone whose well is more than 15 miles outside the city shouldn't have to deal with more marauders than they can handle with a rifle and a hunting magazine.

spqrusa's picture

When the power goes down, my BTC will be safe and my LEAD will be needed to guard my AU.

Watch-out, my LEAD will also be looking for more AU...

joeyman9's picture

Your BTC may be safe, but you'll won't be able to use it.

tbone10's picture

Putin will bring it then you scumbags can come out of your ivory towers for a bit of Street justice, plan accordingly

festerd's picture

The order of priorities is all wrong.  First priority will be shutting down all the nukes while there's still fuel for the backups, hence, no meltdowns.  Second priority will quickly become water.  Without power, no pressure for your taps, worse, no pressure for the hydrants.   The rest of the list is pointless.  

slammin_dude's picture

19thcentury Americans would be shell shocked, then prob become millionaires since everyone these days is soft as fuck compared to them....i mean we kiddi`g here? People were tough as fuck back then....

Canoe Driver's picture

How can anyone be so clueless as to write that a long-term grid failure would be like going back to the nineteenth century!? It would be far, far worse. The 1800's were generally fine for the people that lived through the period. There were acceptable means for satisfying the usual needs. The problem with a grid failure today is that none of the means of the nineteenth century exist any longer!

AlbertthePudding's picture


LN's picture

7. Most of the Snowflakes, will die and be eaten.


miketv's picture

No, power outages happen everywhere in first world countries and for multiple days.. it's really not a big deal.