The TexasInterconnect power grid failure should be an eye-opener for many. Even if you are far removed from Texas and don’t expect any prolonged period of cold weather, there are many reasons why the power grid can and will go down. The U.S. Power grid is fragile and aging, and it will take several years of dedicated resources and work to bring it up to speed. In the meantime, you would be wise not just to brush off what just happened in Texas. Texas’ power grid was “seconds and minutes” away from a catastrophic failure that could have left Texans in the dark for months had they not immediately started implementing rolling blackouts to balance the demand and production. A few hours without power is an excellent opportunity for a BBQ. A few days without power and people have a little more concern and maybe learn to prepare better. But a month or more without power and the region’s social order and norms will cease to exist. Don’t dismiss what happened in Texas wherever you live. It’s a wake-up call.
It should awaken you to the fact that your preps have to be able to sustain you through all sorts of disasters and for longer than just a few days. If you are new to prepping, you may be wondering where to even begin. If you have been prepping for a while, you may have found some of your preps didn’t work as planned or didn’t address your real needs for long enough. In this blog, I’ll discuss the basics of what you need to survive an extended grid-down period of at least two weeks, and I will use examples from Texas to illustrate clearly what we need to prepare for and why. So let’s jump in.
Six Prepper Essentials
I have categorized six essential things to get in order that will get you through the majority of disasters that may occur. There are other blogs on this website specific to everything from wildfires to earthquakes and even cold weather power outages, but these six essentials will provide you a basis from which you can grow. Remember that for each, you need to be sure you have a minimum of two weeks supply. I’ll be covering a lot of supplies in this video that can make a major difference in an emergency situation and I’ll post links to all of them in the description section below if you want to check any of them out. So let’s get started.
The first essential is, without a doubt, water. I recommend storing at a minimum of 1 gallon per day per person. If you can store 3 gallons per day per person, that would be ideal if space is not a constraint. 5-gallon BPA-free, plastic water storage containers can provide you with a stackable solution, but you will need to stack several of these to accomplish your water storage goals, and many are not designed to be stacked beyond 2 or 3 at the maximum. Another solution is interlocking WaterBricks. The interlocking and stackability of these make it possible to line the closets’ walls, the trunk of cars, or space under beds. Just remember that any water storage product that may freeze should only be filled to ¾ capacity. This will allow for expansion without compromising the container’s walls.
Beyond storing water, you also need to have the means to heat, treat, or filter water. When municipal treatment and pumping systems fail, everything from bacteria to raw sewage could taint your water supply. With the intent to extend your stored water supplies or if you need to obtain your water from the wild or precipitation collection systems you have made, you will need to render the water safe for drinking. Something as simple and inexpensive as a mini-sawyer can mean the difference between life and death, especially if you cannot boil water. Germicidal Water Purification tablets are another lightweight, portable solution for you. Whatever you implement, don’t just store water. Make sure you can treat and drink water from the wild as well.
Food is the second essential. Relying on your existing pantry with the hope that you can go to the grocery store just before an unforeseen disaster strikes won’t cut it. Sadly, most Americans have only a few days worth of real meals. Unless you want to be creative and learn to make Ranch dressing, mustard, ketchup, maple syrup, and soy sauce soup to survive, you will want to make sure, at a minimum, you have at least two weeks of food on hand that is calorically dense enough to sustain you.
I’ll post a link in the cards above to a video detailing how to build a 2 week food supply. You should take in a minimum of 1,200 calories, and you should make sure to get a good dietary blend of meats, vegetables, vitamins, minerals, sugars, and starches. Beans, rice, and pasta can form a base for you to build upon with further additions. Even pouring a can of soup over a cup of rice will sustain you and make you feel full.
In addition to having your own supply of food on hand, you may want to consider supplementing your supplies with Freeze-dried food. The advantage of freeze dried food is that you simply have to boil water, add it to the mylar bag and you’ve got a solid meal in 10 minutes.
Also, a mild multi-vitamin and an electrolyte drinking powder will keep your metabolism steady during a disaster.
Cooking is one of the essentials to surviving a minimum of two weeks after a grid-down situation. I already mentioned eating from your supply, so I don’t repeat it here. Think also of how you are going to cook. Having a small, relatively inexpensive cooking propane stove will allow you to boil water and cook food. Just make sure you have propane on hand. I’ll post a link in the cards above if you want to see a video I did a few years back covering the basics of cooking after a disaster.
If you are an apartment dweller without a balcony, your range of options is smaller. There are not many fires you can safely bring indoors because of deadly carbon monoxide. If you can’t afford a propane camping stove (which can be safely operated indoors), you could survive by cooking over candles or cans of Sterno, if necessary. It’s not an ideal solution, and it isn’t one I would recommend trying for the first time after disaster strikes, but a person can easily cook with this method. Be aware of smoke, smell, and light. After two weeks, people will be starving, and you won’t want them around. Heating or warming food at lower temperatures will keep fragrances down.
Finally, think of your cooking source as also your heating source. Many in Texas benefited from their camping stoves when the natural gas stopped flowing or when wood for fireplaces couldn’t be easily obtained. Speaking of fire, several subscribers emailed stating they were glad they had firewood prepared and stored in a wood rack. Also, be sure to have carbon monoxide detectors already in place if you don’t use them now. Preferably a battery operated option. After a major disaster, it’s not uncommon to learn that people perish as a result of operating gas generators or operating cooking devices incorrectly indoors.
My other blog on What You Should Know to Survive the Next Prolonged Grid Down Situation explores in more depth how to define your real power needs. Essentially, you have to assess how tied to electricity you are and then be able to minimally and occasionally meet those needs. If you are dependent upon a drug requiring low temperatures, you will need a power supply for a small refrigerator of some kind. Most portable generators range from gas to propane to solar. Solar is great, so long as the sun is shining. Gas may not always be available. Propane gives you a little more portability and options. I’ll post a link in the cards above if you want to read the blog where I discuss the pros and cons of gas versus solar generator options.
I personally have a combination of gas generators, solar generators, and I recently just picked up a dual fuel generator yesterday to allow me to run off both gas and propane. Living in Southern California, we’ve become accustomed to rolling blackouts and seasonal high winds causing the power to be turned off to prevent fires. I also am adding 8kW of solar panels on my roof next month which I’ll tie into a battery backup system that can charge directly from the panels and power certain circuits in my house if the power goes down creating a true off-grid suburban power setup. More to come about that shortly.
And while we’re on the subject of power, I might mention that you make sure you have several headlamps or flashlights available as well, preferably options which can be powered via a USB if you have a backup solar or gas generator.
The second to last essential I will address here is medicine. When it comes to medicine and medical aid, you have three considerations: maintenance, first aid, and information on hand. Maintenance is any drugs or solutions that get you through your day-to-day. Is there a possibility you might need an Epipen? Do you often suffer from allergies? Are you on any medicines that you have to take daily or can titer off of? If so, these need to be part of your maintenance prepping plan.
The next consideration is first aid. I always suggest you start with a basic first aid kit and build it out from there. Many first aid kits advertise hundreds of items in them, but having 200 band-aids of low quality and don’t stick will be worthless to you when you genuinely need them. Add to your basic kit quality products and extras you may need like a tourniquet, Israeli bandage, and gauze. In the event of a major emergency, 9-1-1 may not be able to make it to you at all and getting to the hospital may be very difficult.
When you think of your medicine needs, also think of having printing information. Most don’t consider that the internet may be down as we’ve become so accustomed to having information on hand readily available on our phones and computers. Having at least one good book you have read, like the Survival Medical Handbook, could mean the difference between life and death. You should have information that can be readily available if the internet is not available.
Climate & Shelter
Finally, you must be able to literally weather the climate you find yourself in during the disaster. Before winter comes, review your warm-weather preps. As many learned in Texas or hopefully learned in the CityPrepping video 4 Critical Rules to Survive A Winter Power Outage I released two months ago, there are many techniques to survive a winter power outage. It may seem odd to pitch a tent inside your house, but it creates a microclimate for you. Even throwing a tarp and blankets over a table and on the floor creates a temperature-stable environment for you. When it comes to keeping warm, make sure your emergency preparedness goes beyond a couple of emergency mylar blankets. Do you have wool blankets, a hat, gloves, and a scarf? If the disaster is wet, do you have the means to get and stay dry? If it is a hot weather disaster, can you stay cool? Can you recognize the early signs of heatstroke and know what to do?
Before each season, sit down and consider your preparedness for the weather. If you can’t live in the weather occurring out your window right now when the furnace goes out or the air conditioning stops, what do you need to do to survive the climate? Exposure to the elements without protection will kill a person faster than dehydration or starvation, so give this element top consideration as you prep.
There is much to consider when you start prepping for a power grid failure that could last days, weeks, or months. When the power is down, the roads are closed, and the pipes are freezing, your options become extremely limited. Set a clear two-week self-sufficiency target for yourself. Realize that the Texas grid failure happened twice before for the exact same reasons. It is likely to happen again. Even if you weren’t swept up in that disaster, understand that the three power grids in America are fragile and precariously balanced. Set a two-week target, build the six essentials I outline in this video, and you will have a solid foundation from which to build.
What do you think? What’s your essential?
As always, stay safe out there.