When The Grid Goes Down...

Tyler Durden's picture

Authored by Jeremiah Johnson (nom de plume of a retired Green Beret of the United States Army Special Forces) via ReadyNutrition.com,

Let’s just say that the unthinkable becomes the real and happening.  Let’s take this article and go over it.  This will be a segment in three parts, the next ones being immediate actions taken at work and at home.  I’m hitting on traveling first, as there are so many vacationers jaunting around happily over the landscape.  All kidding aside, traffic is congested during the summer, extending traveling time on the commutes.  Let’s game the scenario, and here it is.

Here’s the scenario:

You’re cruising down the highway in your 2013 four-door sedan, having just dropped the kids off twenty minutes ago to the swim club.  Now you’re on the open highway with a heavy traffic flow…about 5 miles from the edge of town and 7 miles from work.  You’re listening to the radio, when suddenly it crackles and goes dead, along with your engine.  You look around and pumping the brakes manage to slow down and then drive off the road onto the shoulder, just feet away from the back bumper of another vehicle.


The vehicle comes to a stop, and you try the ignition again.  You look at your watch, a Casio G-Shock, to find there is no display.  You reach for your cell phone.  Nothing.  It’s dead.  There are perhaps a dozen cars around you…half to your front and half to your rear.  All of them have stopped, and most of the drivers have gotten out.  You hear the sound of an engine, and looking up, see a ’58 Ford pickup truck weaving in and out of the stalled traffic, moving toward your rear, away from town.  The book “One Second After” has just played out in real life.  The United States has been attacked by an EMP (Electromagnetic Pulse) weapon.  You’re 15 miles from home, and the “S” has hit the fan.

On Friday 7/29/17, North Korea just successfully tested an ICBM (Intercontinental Ballistic Missile) and experts from four different countries including the U.S. have determined that they have the capability of striking the U.S. anywhere.  That means the optimal point for an EMP strike (dead center of the continental U.S., at 300 km above ground) is not only their prime target but also attainable.

15 Tips to Get Safely Home Following an EMP

Back to our scenario.  Most will be clueless and unprepared.  Let’s do it up, down and dirty with the steps that you should take if you are “Citizen X” outlined in the scenario:

1. Have a plan already in place: That means to formulate one right now, if you haven’t already done so.

2. If there are a lot of people around, such as in the scenario, then immediately grab your gear and get out of there. What gear, you may ask?  We’ve “gamed” much of this to the point of nausea, but let’s list out those essentials:

“Go/Bug Out Bag”: This guy already needs to be packed and ready, in that vehicle that will become a 3,000-lb. paperweight. Three days’ supply of ready-to-eat food, one day’s worth of water and the means to filter more.  Compass, flashlight, knife, first aid kit, poncho, jacket/sweatshirt, extra socks, map, light sleeping bag, fire starting material, small fishing kit (hooks, line, bobber), sewing kit, MSW (Minor Surgical Wound) kit, extra cash ($20 denominations and smaller), ground pad, extra clothing (hat, OG bandana, etc.), and ammo. An EMP may be followed by radiological and nuclear consequences. Having an NBC gas mask and anti-radiation pills in your vehicle could be a lifesaver.

Weapon: Please don’t feed me “legal information,” or “I can’t do that in my state.” These are “sink or swim” rules.  If you don’t have a weapon now, you may not have one later.  If you don’t have the fortitude to take that weapon and be ready to use it when the time comes, then you probably won’t survive this or be able to help your family.  One rifle, one pistol, with ammo for each.

Grab that bag and put it on, securing your weapons. Then secure the vehicle, closing the windows and locking it up.  If nobody is around, throw it into neutral and push it off the road.  Camouflage it with branches and leaves…taking care not to cut them from the immediate area that you stash it.  Most likely it’ll be “violated,” so now is the time to take the stuff you need and get it out. If the scenario above applies, just secure the vehicle and get out of there.

3. Traveling: Do not walk on the roads. Skirt the road with about 50 meters (that’s about 150 feet) between you and the edge of the road.  Stay away from people unless you know them and trust them…both qualities are emboldened.

4. For metro people: If you are out in the suburbs or open road, and you must return to the city? It may be better for you and your family to arrange for a rallying point outside of the city.  If that isn’t possible, then you should exercise extreme caution.  Allow the nearest family member to secure the home and then wait for you.  Travel when it’s dark to be on the safe side.  Your visibility is cut down, and so is the visibility of those who may be hunting you.

5. Long distance to go? Forage along the way.  Refill your canteens/water bottles whenever you’re able, and take note of any freestanding water supplies or “blue” features (that’s the color of water on a military map) for use in the future.  DON’T MARK YOUR MAP!  If someone gets a hold of it, you do not want them to be able to find your home.  You must commit the route to memory and adjust your steps accordingly.

6. Dealing with the Stress of the Event: The power is not coming back on…ever…and it really has begun…the Day After Doomsday is here. Take a deep breath and concentrate on your training, your preparations.  If you don’t have any, then this piece is a wake-up call to get moving!  The best way to do it is immediately accepting what has happened without dwelling on it.  Concentrate on the tasks at hand: navigating home, scouting what is in between, and foraging for anything you need.  You have a job to do!  Reconnaissance!  We’ll go over that now.

Reconnaissance: You must see on the ground what is in between you and the happy Hallmark home you’re returning to. You should take note of any places that hold medical supplies, food, or anything you may need for yourself or your family.  You should take note of possible refuge sites to hide if you and the family hightail it out of the home instead of having a “Walton Family Homecoming.”  You must take note of water features, danger locations (cliffs or impassable terrain features), as well as dangerous individuals.  Yes, the ones who were jerks before all of this?  Wait until you see how they’ll be now, with no controls exercised over them.

7. The best advice I can give: Travel at night. This may be impossible for several reasons.  Firstly, if it’s an all-out nuke attack, there may be the problem of radiation for you, in which case you’ll have to either reach home immediately or seek shelter immediately to remain in place for several weeks.  Secondly, you may have other family members that need to be attended to and cannot wait for a long time.  The kids in the scenario are a prime example.  If it is an EMP only, there will be a “quiet period” of about 6 to 12 hours before everything breaks loose and the sequel to the movie “The Road” begins in real life.  Darkness is the best time to travel.  It hides you and helps you to cover your tracks until the morning light.

8.The rest of the family: They must KNOW THE OVERALL PLAN AND HAVE A PLAN OF THEIR OWN TO FOLLOW UNTIL YOU GET THEM OR UNTIL THEY REACH HOME. This is all going to take some preparation on your part and remember the saying: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.  Don’t put it off!

9. Avoid people, families, and groups of people. Your goal when traveling is to be invisible.  I wrote some articles on how to hunt and how to avoid the manhunt.  You may want to refresh yourself on those points, and follow a few basic rules I keep in my own mind and heart:

  • When a disaster occurs, everyone is your “friend” even when they are not
  • There is no interest but self-interest outside of you and your immediate family
  • Whatever you need and have, they also need and want
  • They will kill you for the barest of essentials of what you’re carrying
  • Don’t talk to anyone: don’t exchange information, pleasantries, and do not tell anyone anything about yourself, your family, your general destination, or your home…it can be used against you later…and it will be.

10. Coming home: Don’t walk right on in. Use a roundabout route, and go to a spot where you can watch your house for at least half an hour or so before making your “triumphant return.”  The S has hit the fan, and this is not the return of the Prodigal…you’re just going to tiptoe in.  But before you tiptoe through the tulips and the window, keep in mind that Tiny Tim and his gang of marauders may have done it before you.  That is why you want to watch the house closely.  Best Advice I can give: Have your kids/spouse put up a long-distance-visible sign/signal so that you know everything is either OK or that you’ll have to come in and rescue the family.  For example, if the birdhouse is still on the corner of the porch, then all is well.  If the birdhouse is gone, or if it’s sitting on top of the post that holds the mailbox…well, time to play CQB (that’s Close Quarters Battle) and clear the house of the rats.

11. Never underestimate anyone’s ability to take your family members hostage: That goes for the “friendly neighbors,” most of all…the biggest rats on the block. If that happens, guess what?  You’re now the HRT (that’s Hostage Rescue Team), or you better have a couple of guys such as this in your survival group/pod/neighborhood unit.  The hardest guy or gal in the world will “cave” when their son or daughter is being held at gunpoint by some goon.

12. You’re home…Now, it’s time to fight! That’s right!  Just when you thought it would be cozy and comfortable…just you and the family and your happy supplies…here comes a whole bagful of “Gummi Bears” down the block…only these bears are armed with baseball bats, zip guns, chains, and crowbars.  Armed also with about a week of BO (that’s Body Odor), all twelve of them combined still have an IQ of 50, tops…and here they are, at your door.  They don’t want Halloween candy, by the way.  You just walked twenty miles.          Say, remember that article I wrote about using ginseng, and drinking coffee to help you keep alert and awake?  I hope that one comes to mind because it’s about to become a “festival” at your house.  We’re going to cover more on this in the next segment.

13. Obtain that “second set” of electronic equipment. Oh yeah, the one JJ continuously warns about!  Well, now that all your electronics that were exposed are junk, I hope you made some Faraday cages and stashed an extra one of those radios…or even several, for those of you who thought long-term.  You need to find out what’s going on.  Ham radios may help if you shielded them.  So may CB’s and satellite phones.

14. Arm the whole family: by the time you reach home, every family member either accompanying you (small children and toddlers excepted) should be armed. Time to really see how tight and full of solidarity you are as a real family unit…one that must fight in order to survive.

15. Exit stage left: You may just find that the homecoming isn’t; that is, you must write it off as a loss and get out of there…it’s either destroyed and burning or occupied by the marauders. Unless you have the skills and the ability to deal with all of them, it is better to retreat and stay alive.  You need a plan in place in order to make this work.

We’ve covered a lot of information here.  This is all designed to stimulate those creative thought processes.  The thinking alone is not enough: you must formulate a plan and then implement it.  A plan without action is of no use.  A plan executed too late is a tragedy: a funeral dirge getting ready to play.  Don’t be too late to formulate your plan for you and your family.  If the lights go out, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the party’s over…and the party may be one that never comes to an end.  Fight that good fight each and every day!  JJ out!

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Birima's picture

Thank you Lorca's, very kind of you. 

bobdog54's picture

I liked the person's idea to use Amazon 2 day guaranteed delivery!

Took Red Pill's picture

And no one has pointed out that nuke plant backup generators run on fuel that can't be pumped and delivered when the tanks run dry. When 99 nuclear plants around the country start melting down, then we can all forget about any survival plans.

Newt Gingrich has been warning about this since at least 2011. The solution is as simple as surge protectors on a large scale placed across the electrical grid to block harmful currents. In addition, Faraday cages around the high-voltage transformers. These aren't new solutions. In 2010, the House passed the GRID Act, which would have protected 300 of the country's biggest transformers. The measure died in the Senate later that year.

June, 2013 the SHIELD Act was introduced, which mandates many of the same safeguards, but was never taken up because electricity utilities don't want Congress telling it what to do. The GRID Act in 2014 passed the House but again was never taken up by the Senate.

Protecting the electrical grid would cost only $2 billion, and could be completed in less than five years. Safeguarding all essential infrastructure would come in between $10-20 billion. That’s a small price to pay.

Finally, CIPA passed just this year. It is a first necessary step to protect our nation from an EMP catastrophe. But CIPA will fail if its provisions are ignored or if corrupt actors in the federal bureaucracy and industry continue to pretend that the EMP threat is not real.


urhotdogs's picture

This is where the trillion infrastructure spending should go - not more parks, bike paths, and bullet trains

ReadyforLiftoff's picture

A few things need to be set straight here. First off, this article is pure fear porn. I work in the electric power industry. In my educated opinion this is all bullshit. EMP attacks are nothing more than a Y2K style scare. I think it will be found that much of this has few teeth. Let me explain...

In response to this post, all transformers are already contained in a metal box, which is by definition a Faraday cage. These are grounded as well. Furthermore, transformers and power lines already have circuit breakers protecting them. Large long lines also have another form of protection known as a lightning arrestor. any induced high voltage over a specific threshhold will basically jump a gap to ground. If you look at the tops of the poles in the USA, the very top wire is a ground wire. This is for lightning protection on the line. They all have them. Granted, some utilities are better protected than others, but it is code to have these protections in place. Yeah, voltages can be induced on lines and the power might go out for a while. If you're not in the blast, most of the grid will be restored in a few hours. 

As for the car, I find it comical that the author says my car will die, but my Faraday cage protected devices will all be working when I get home. News Flash: if your car is metal body construction, its a Faraday Cage! This is why if you should be caught in a situation where high voltage power lines fall on your car, you are to STAY INSIDE THE VEHICLE and wait for help to arrive and power down the lnes! You are protected by the Faraday Cage, which is the car body, as long as you stay inside the vehicle. Get out of the vehicle before those lines are powered down and you're dead.  So, bottom line is while I can't speak for the plastic bodies ot there, I think my car will be just fine. I would be more concerned about the street lights functioning on my way home. 

Faraday's ice pail experiment does make a good read for anyone interested in learning more about his cage. I truly believe a lot of this EMP stuff is pure nonsense. I do think it will have an impact if you are in close proximity to the detonation, but much of this is hype. It's designed to scare the crap out of you so that you support the war. Don't believe everything the MIC tells you.

Calmyourself's picture



Just point out where this is wrong please.  If you would share your expertise on SCADA systems as well.

ReadyforLiftoff's picture

The quick answar is that I think these tests were done slanted towards proving EMP  will take the  grid down. I will restate, anything in close proximity will fry. Some due to other forces. Further  out,   breakers will trip. Voltages will be  induced on the  lines. Protective equipment will be actuated. There will be blackouts. I just find the duration a bit  ludicrous. I could be wrong. This is uncharted territory. Then again, thats precisely my point.

As  for the tests in the reports, everything they say is "it could". Its more of a sales  pitch. No solid affirmations. Much like stock investing: "you could make a million dollars trading Invidia". Man, lets go buy some.  Riiiight. If  you look at their test site, its all done in wood sheds. I don't know of a single utility that puts their protective gear in a wood shed. Everything major is in steel grounded enclosures or buildings. IMO, the tests aren't real world. sure the SCADA equipment when exposed in this manner will fry, but the manner in which they protect this stuff (there is none) will fry in a lightning storm too. Build it real world (NERC Compliant) and give us a realistic test.

Bottom line, the  test is biased to proving equipment will fry. The test site is in no way built like a substation. Equipment is  left unshielded, without a  ground grid, without a steel enclosure. I can fry anything like that. BTW, I design SCADA systems. I'm calling bullshit. I'm sure they fried some equipment, but they're going to have to put it in a grounded enclosure and fry it before I consider this nonsense as reputable.  

SaulAzzHoleSky's picture

Starfish Prime above ground nuclear test in 1962 in south Pacific knocked out about 300 street lights in Hawaii (about 900 miles away) and caused random other damage there as well. Nearby instruments to measure EMP went off scale or were fried, as the EMP was much larger than expected and this was for a bomb that was not even optimized to produce EMP. If you are wondering why the Iran and NK nuke devices seem to have very low yields, this is your answer, as EMP devices are optimized to produce gamma rays instead of blast effects. Read the Wiki on nuclear_electromagnetic_pulse. We are really in uncharted territory here, and do not really know exactly what will happen. We do know that traditional lightning arrestors will not react quickly enough to eliminate the fast E1 pulse from reaching the internals of the transformer. OTOH, manufacturers typically install extra insulation on the first turn of wire next to the HV terminal in the transformer. After that, the very high inductance of the transformer would be expected to filter out the pulse. Problem is that we do not really know if this will be enough to prevent damage. My guess is that it will be like when lightning hits your house in that some things fry and others survive. Regarding the get-home scenario, a folding bike in the trunk along with the get-home-bag would be highly useful. Jeremiah does not address how he gets the kids home from swimming pool, though.

Eyes Opened's picture

Sorry but for a faraday cage to work, it must be effectively "hermetically" sealed at the frequency of concern. As an EMP will presumably produce a wide frequency spectrum burst, only a "full metal jacket" will work ... BUT it must NOT have any wires (antennas) going into it.

BTW...Your average microwave oven door is (with the rest of the case) a faraday shield designed to block the freq. the transducer is outputting whilst being transparent enough to look into.

A car is NOT a faraday cage by any means....


Also ... staying inside a car with an electrical cable draped over it is advised as the tyres are RUBBER  !! An insulator... ALSO ... its not "potential" thats a killer, it's POTENTIAL DIFFERENCE that kills...

For a guy working in the power industry , u are seriously mis-informed, if not downright ignorant of the facts .... google step-potential for a start...

ReadyforLiftoff's picture

A car is a faraday cage. To your point it is imperfect as  it is not completely sealed and it will leak with radio frequencies. Your onstar system may be a problem. Disconnect the antenna? My truck is older. I won't have this problem. May fry my radio, but I think I will still be driving home.

ReadyforLiftoff's picture

Don't know where you get your facts. I never made mention of strep potential. Not part of the conversation. You're the one that should check WTF youre talking about before you criticize others. 


Bigern's picture

EMP is probably a large distraction from other strategies. Take for example the physical destruction of about a dozen "hub" transformer stations around the nation. Small teams of attackers with rifles could simultaneously hit these facilities that are largely unguarded or manned. Power is out nationwide.

A live test was done on a substation in California a few years ago.


StarGate's picture

Water is the one commodity that everyone is in daily need of. Why most civilizations and ancient cities all dwell along the rivers. And why we should not use rivers as sewers.

However with a simple diversion, all roof draining gutters can be converted into rain catchments. Then further diverted to storage tanks. Drinking water would need to be purified (boil etc.) but the rest could be used for all sanitation needs.

One good rain can deliver water needs for a month for a few families, if you can catch it.

Eyes Opened's picture

"One good rain can deliver water needs for a month for a few families, if you can catch it."

With the added advantage that when u drink it u start to glow so yer NEVER in the dark...  lol

ClassicalLib17's picture

Not to worry, the wind "farms" get paid whether they produce electricity or not via renewable energy credits.

deimos178's picture

Apparently they are made in South Korea. I think they may have their own problems to deal with shortly.

chiswickcat's picture

Stores empty in days? I think you mean hours!? Just look at what happens when the news says "big snow storm coming tonight". Shops emptied by closing time. How long did food remain in the stores in Louise' when Katrina hit? Days? I think not. A grid down event will be of little difference to Katrina.

New_Meat's picture

Ya gotta' stock up before the hoarders arrive.

The Cooler King's picture

Here's an example of the stupidest prepper ever.


Bob Lee Swagger (Mark Wahlberg, in the movie 'Shooter').


So the genius is holed up in the mountains with a Cheytac M-200 Intervention rifle, and what is he using as target practice? His food supply (Dinty Moore Beef Stew)



New_Meat's picture

hang around in them far away places and you get a hankerin' for the strangest things.

The Cooler King's picture

The dumbass shot the last can of Dinty Moore stew for 200 miles to smithereens.


Now it's just down to him & his trusty dog Boo.


My money is on Boo.

BarkingCat's picture

Mark Wahlberg is a dumb ass jewgger.

Always hated that fucker.

I remember he caused some incident on a plane in the early days of his career. I wished I was I flying on the same plane. It would have given me a chance to beat the crap out of him.

Eyes Opened's picture

Booburgers.... mmmm... truly he was mans best friend... tastiest friend too... lol

Praetorian Guard's picture

Got lead? :)

Simple rule of the jungle, he who has the guns, takes what he wants.


When, and if, the grid goes down, you immediately proceed to the nearest store, and pharmacy, hold them at gunpoint and fill your massive duffle bag, before peddling your bike out of town...

subversion's picture

There isn't a place in the world that doesn't go to hell and people become animals when it all collapses.

I've read horror stories from people who have surivived these events and hording gold just made them a target. The moment you spend it to survive the gun crews arrive and take it (and your wife and daughters). You should have friends and family who do the same, because no matter how many guns you have you won't survive when they raid because they always form Mad Max like groups to loot and pillage.

So get some lead and some friends.

stinkypinky's picture

Yes, marauding gangs will form ... but in the first DAY after an EMP? Really people? It takes a few days of disaster for people to get angry enough, desperate enough, and convinced enough that they'll never be held accountable, to start raping and pillaging. First they'll spend a day or two helping their neighbors (yes, that's actually basic human nature for the non-sociopathic human, which represents the majority of the population) and generally being in a spirit of brotherhood and "pulling together to get through this". Then after 2 days the brotherhood will begin to give way to fear and anger, as the toilet paper, food, batteries and such all start to run thin and they've heard nothing from FEMA. Another few days past that, when people start missing meals, the scavenging will really begin - first in a kind of communist "share YOUR stuff with me, because that's the ethical thing to do, and this will all be over shortly anyways..." maybe also some outright stealing from neighbors, but still justifying it by saying you'll pay them back after the crisis is over.

And then after about 6 days post EMP is the kind of scenario this author is describing. Immediately starting by bushwhacking your way across the wildnerness instead of just walking the fastest route along the road home, and arriving in 1-2 days is really dumb. Maybe once you're 1/2 mile from your home you want to take the long way around and scout it out, but not the whole way home.

RumpleShitzkin's picture

I'm shaving out my Mohawk, affixing my football shoulder pads to my biker jacket within the first 15 minutes of lights out.

No time to fuck around. Scoot and loot!


Rigger's picture

I don't care who you are, that's some funny shit right there. Remember to carry a small box of metal spikes and studs with you though, you gotta really sell that shit...

stinkypinky's picture

I've got a battery powered grinding wheel I keep in my car so at the first sign of an apocalypse I can sharpen my teeth into pointy nubs to eat human flesh more easily.

new game's picture

packs of wolves,

do you really understand wolves?

don't be a deer, just sayin.

find a "good" pack.

lone wolf too.

humans suck...\

got night vision

not milk, snowflake...

can't wait

disaster, my calling

odd lop fits in, finally, wew,

never thought it would come!

22hp, and off to the woods

hope the bugs don't bother you.

fattail's picture

I won't be suprised when a bunch of hairless apes revert to their animal nature.  Urban areas will be a disaster.

Omen IV's picture

which is why Credit and debit cards that dont work coupled with the elimination of cash....may be a good idea - or perhaps that is why they want it?

Omen IV's picture

which is why Credit and debit cards that dont work coupled with the elimination of cash....may be a good idea - or perhaps that is why they want it?

BarkingCat's picture

They have to find you first. 

man from glad's picture

"So get some lead and some friends."

And some homemade claymores, tangle foot and misc other "surprises" for the bad guys.

Oildriller's picture

Lead, not gold, is the precious metal in a crisis. With lead you can get as much gold as you need.

Bigly's picture

A good buddy got a pacemaker last year. This would be horrific for him

kellys_eye's picture

If it wipes out all electronically recorded debt then.... woo hoo!

kbohip's picture

Trust me when I telll you the bankers have planned for this and all recorded debt will be accounted for when the power comes back on.  Oh and it will come back on as the bankers need it to enslave us.

Carpe Tutti Bastardi's picture

And those that survive will be so capable and willing and able to resume their debt payments!

Good luck with that!

HRClinton's picture

When I saw the title, the Stones song came to mind:

"When the Whip Comes Down"

Not entirely inappropriate for the grid going down. 

spanish inquisition's picture

Same here. Was a time when the titles were fun references to other stuff. Now it's all "You are gonna be surprised and shocked as this little trick is exposed". Hopefully that shit has run its course and we will see more references.

Cloud9.5's picture

Blood pressure medicine runs out.

New_Meat's picture

so does MCD.  Bad diets go away, maybe all diets go away.