Estimated reading time: 10 minutes
One of the most common themes when it comes to prepping and disaster preparedness is the power grid going down, causing a regional or even a nationwide blackout that would result in a catastrophe that very few people have ever experienced in their lives.
A long-term blackout would probably be far worse than you realize. Losing your power for a few days or weeks is one thing, but losing power for months over a large portion of the country is a whole other thing. Without the luxury of public services and other things that we are accustomed to, things would get really bad, to say the least.
But what would really happen as the result of a long-term blackout like that? Well, while the government would attempt to get things back up and running again, most people would be forced into a true battle for survival.
That’s why it’s important for you to know the terrifying truths and realities of a long term blackout. With that said, here are 10 of them…
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Truth #1 – Sewage Will Back Up
The first truth about long-term blackouts is something most people don’t think about: sewage. When the water stops running, not only will you be unable to access water from your sinks and bathtubs, you also won’t be able to flush your toilets.
If this becomes a widespread issue–which it quickly will–the spread of bacteria is going to become a major cause of concern. Disposing of human waste is an issue that very few preppers give much consideration to, but they need to.
You basically only have two options for dealing with sewage in a long term blackout: burning it or burying it. Regardless of which option you choose, you will need to make sure the waste is disposed of a minimum of two hundred and fifty feet away from your homes and any source of water.
A good policy to follow will be to dispose of the waste in black garbage bags, seal the bags shut, and then dig them a minimum of four feet underground and at two hundred and fifty feet away from your home and any source of water.
Truth #2 – Trash Will Be Everywhere
The next major reality of a long-term blackout that you will need to contend with is the fact that trash will be everywhere. And by everywhere, I mean everywhere.
Not just trash, but sanitation, in general, is going to go downhill. Since there will be very few if any public services, the trash that people put on the street simply won’t get picked up.
And that’s not to mention your own trash, which is going to pile up very quickly since you won’t have anywhere to put it. In just a few weeks, things are going to get out of hand. Piles of garbage will be breeding grounds for pests and disease.
The best way to deal with this will be to work with your neighbors. Come up with a plan for how you can dispose of trash, whether that means burning it, burying it, composting it, relocating it, etc. Make sure it doesn’t contaminate any major source of water.
You’ll also want to make sure you have plenty of hygiene items so you can keep yourself and your home clean and prevent the spread of germs.
Truth #3 – No More Online Banking
Your credit cards and debit cards are going to be useless during a long term blackout. Therefore, you’re going to be reduced to using cash, which is why you would be wise to have an emergency fund of cash at your home. At least $1,000 in a variety of $20, $10, $5, and $1 bills would be smart.
But keep in mind that cash could potentially become useless too. It’s just paper. The only reason it has value is because people believe it has value, but that could change. If it comes down to surviving the next day, what good will a few wads of paper do you other than building a fire or wiping your butt?
The point is that bartering could take the place of cash in a long enough blackout. For this reason, consider building up a stash of barter items. You may be able to trade them for food or supplies.
Truth #4 – No Gasoline
A lack of gasoline is also going to be a major hindrance during a long term blackout because the gas pumps simply aren’t going to work. That’s exactly why you’re going to have to stockpile plenty of gasoline and make it last as long as possible.
In fact, gasoline is going to become one of the most precious commodities. And with the lack of gasoline, do you want to know what that means? That’s right: no traveling.
The only gasoline you will have available for bugging out or anything like that will be the gasoline in your car or in any cans on your property. But since gasoline will be so restricted and precious, bugging out may not even be an option.
Truth #5 – Gun Confiscation Could Be A Possibility
Law enforcement confiscated firearms during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Depending on the circumstances of the long-term blackout that you find yourself in, this could be a reality that you face as well.
The simple fact of the matter is that the authorities will view civilians with guns as a threat, and therefore, they will seek to get rid of as many guns in civilian hands as possible. If martial law is ever declared by the government, which it very well could be in a long-term blackout, then the chances of gun confiscation will go up dramatically.
The solution here will be to find alternative weapons with which you can defend yourself against attack. Bows and arrows, crossbows, spears (lash knives to the end of poles), knives, machetes, hatchets, hammers, and other weapons will be your best bet.
Another option is to hide your firearms. There are all sorts of hiding spots in every home.
Truth #6 – No Internet Or Cell Service
You’ll only be able to run your phones, tablets, and laptops for as long as the batteries last and as long as your generators last (which in turn will only last for as long as your gasoline does).
That’s also not to mention that Wi-fi and cell service will be gone for as long as there is a blackout as well. Simply put, you’re going to need to get used to a world without internet, e-mailing, texting, calling, social media, and so on.
Instead, you’re going to need to rely on alternative communication sources to stay in touch with others and the outside world, such as CB Radios and HAM Radios.
Truth #7 – No More Electricity
Have you ever wondered what life would be like if there was literally no electricity? We’ve already covered a few things that will happen, but take a look at the bigger picture.
A lack of electricity also means a lack of light indoors, a lack of power outlets, a lack of heat, and so on. It basically means that, in many ways, life will literally return almost to the way it was during the 1800s.
You’re going to have to resort to coming up with your own alternate heat sources, your own light sources, and so on. Stock up on warm clothes, candles, stoves, and wood to serve as fuel for the fire.
Here are some other ways to stay warm in the winter. And don’t forget to keep cool in the summer.
Truth #8 – No More Food
This one should be obvious already, but it bears repeating: the only food and water that you are going to have access to are what you have stored and what you can barter. And if you live in an urbanized area, then hunting and foraging probably aren’t going to be options for you either.
Once the running water quits and the grocery stores are all emptied out (and remember, there aren’t going to be any more supply trucks), then you will be wishing you had stockpiled all of the food you could. Here is our beginner’s guide to emergency food storage.
Also, keep in mind that you can still create your own self-sustaining food sources (crops in a garden, chickens, rabbits, etc.). But if these are not realistic options for you either based on your circumstances, then your only other choices will literally be scavenging and bartering.
Truth #9 – No More Water
The lack of running water is also going to be a significant issue, and perhaps even worse than the lack of food. Scavenging water isn’t all too difficult in urbanized areas, as you can find it at public parks, fountains, lakes, and so on, but the main problem will be finding clean water that is safe to drink.
You can also take your preparations a massive step further by investing in building a water well and a rain catchment system. If that isn’t possible for you based on your particular circumstances, then instead you’re going to need to simply stock up on as much of it as you can in the time being.
Here are the basics of water storage and water purification.
Truth #10 – People Will Go Crazy
Last but certainly not least, people are simply going to go crazy during a long-term blackout. The simple fact of the matter is that the vast majority of people are not prepared for such a scenario. And that’s why they’re going to turn into savages willing to kill for food, water, medicine, and any other essentials they need.
What you need to do is be on your guard and be prepared to defend yourself and your home if need be. Be prepared to defend yourself wherever you go by always having a handgun concealed on your person, and have a shotgun or rifle close by.
If guns are indeed confiscated, then you’re going to need to carry alternate weapons on you and become trained in their use. Pepper spray, tasers, stun guns, knives, hatchets, hammers, baseball bats, umbrellas, and so on can all be converted into incredibly effective self-defense weapons, just to name a few.
And to keep looters out of your home, you’ll want to turn it into a fortress. SHTF home security is paramount. If you live in an apartment, here’s how to defend it.
And finally, trust no one! Do not inform everybody and anybody in your daily life that you are a prepper and keep your stockpiles a secret. Otherwise, you’ll be posting a major target on your back. Here’s what to do if people find out you’re a prepper.
In conclusion, a long-term blackout is more than just a long time without power. It will more closely resemble a true grid-down scenario like the ones that are frequently discussed in prepper circles. One that, if it lasts long enough, could kill most of the population.
The purpose of this article has been to remind you of the terrifying reality of a long-term blackout and motivate you to prepare for one. Hopefully, it will never actually happen. And if it does, then hopefully you’ll have prepared.
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Bob Aisbett says
Really good article and some great comments.
Instead of strapping a knife to a pole which you could lose, sharpen the pole then harden the point in a fire.
Clergylady, maybe a 12V pump and a solar panel and battery would help with getting water from your back up well.
Margaret M Tombs says
Why do people live in cities in the first place? I’ve never understood this.
Find a community in the countryside you feel comfortable with and that will give you a much better chance of survival and a better quality of life even if SHTF never happens. If you need guns to protect yourself from the people around you you’re living in the wrong place.
We moved to the Isle Of Lewis in Scotland 12 years ago and we’ve never looked back. They have a very modern lifestyle now due to broadband etc, but it was only a couple of generations ago they were living without electricity or running water in many places. It wouldn’t take much to relearn those skills.
Also we’ve barely been touched by Covid because it was fairly simple to shut down non essential transport from the mainland. Provided you already live here of course. It’s no good turning up in a camper van in the middle of a pandemic and expect to get on the ferry.
Passing on summary info from ARK2. Gangs of 200+ will pour out of the cities, taking everything in their path. If anyone thinks one pea-shooter will protect, sorry. First thing, get away from cities, get with like minded people, first goal = security, then water, food, shelter.
This article is sugar coated, will be very bad.
Carol Rivermoon says
Regarding Ham radios, the repeaters may be down, but local communication will still be possible locally between radios via simplex. Look That up if you like. Other frequencies will still be available for regional and world wide communication, as they don’t use or need repeaters. Hams actually practice disaster preparedness through events and activities such as Field Day in late June. Look That up as well and attend one–there will be hams happy to educate you about our hobby.
General ham radio licensee
Bill t says
I see the real answer is to become a person who can satisfy his needs by himself.its a big comitment.land to plant ,grow crops & animals. Maybe also like minded friends ( strong) cash ,now. I wish I had one.
Congratulations on wonderful articles and trying to help sleepers awake and prepare for the upcoming economic collapse, the closure of all banks and exchanges for a decade. As well as the spiritual and physical Armageddon that people around the world will soon face.
The financial collapse is organized by a group of wealthy puppeteers for the world’s financial bankruptcy to cause the breakup of independent nation states, the self-destruction of the vast majority of the population for water, food and resources and the imposition of the New World Satanic Order!
We are here in Bulgaria, a member of the EU, for a long time now. We know that all banks and exchanges will close for a period of ten years to rob all depositors. We know that there will also be confiscation of physical money and gold owned by citizens. We know that the criminals will be able to kill with impunity and that they are more suited to survive. We know that death and violence will accompany us every day of our lives in the days of the crisis and the Redemption.
And we think the only way to survive is not to hire a private army but through a highly motivated and ideologically cohesive community that is ready to live, fight and survive together. By pulling up in the mountains together with our families and growing our own food, we are educated by books (because there will be no more electricity or electronic resources), to treat with natural medicines and to defend ourselves. In order to survive this spiritual economic “Flood”, our children will begin the new human and spiritual revival of the world and Europe.
We have enough trained and motivated people to do and in Bulgaria a large part of the people is very enlightened, educated and smart, unlike most of the old Western European countries.
I wish you a successful day and God will keep you and your family!
Kieran Roberts says
your second paragraph is spot on.
M Jones says
How about a composting toilet?
Margaret M Tombs says
My thoughts exactly.
The Wiseman says
Put a “SimplePump” in your already-existing well, and then hand-pump dozens of gallons of water under presssure directly into your home’s pressure tank. Then flush your toilets and enjoy (cold) showers as much as you like.
Install burglar-resistant glass on all ground-level windows. Purchase a dozen used 55 gallon fuel drums with lids and used them to store house garbage bags.
Canned goods from the supermarket will easily last ten years if you store them in your cool basement behind a hanging curtain. I eat them every day; I’ve been a prepper since Y2K (1999) and know what I’m talking about. Buy a good selection, especially meats, and plenty of rice, macaroni and pilot bread. don’t forget mustard, mayo, seasonings, dry soups.
Unless ham radio repeaters are solar powered, they won’t be available for ham users if we lose electricty. That means line-of-sight communication only for ham radios, if I understand correctly how it all works.
Solar power is a viable source as long as there is available batteries to store the power.
Distance isnt an issue as it’s based more on the antenna and frequency being used.
In a grid down situation they are not going to try and confiscate guns so everyone should quit saying they will. Yeah they tried it during Katrina is the big answer well that’s because all the surrounding areas still had power. In a total grid down I am willing to bet 1 in 10 police may try to still report to work (remember the no gas thing) and that will be locals in small town that aren’t going to bother wasting time on such a thing. Any LEO that do still try to do their jobs are going to have way more to worry about than the fact that I have a gun. Lets also add in the fact that almost all gun registration in now stored electronically and guess what,oh yeah no power to run those computers.
Shannon Lancaster says
I love ya
Head to the nearest walmart and go to sporting goods. Grab all the guns and ammo. Block all doors and other points of entry with the shelving and large heavy items. There ya go you’re all set for about a year or so, until the food runs out. All hou gotta do is defend it. Good luck!
Grant Mathees says
Looks like you doing a great job. My only suggestion is rural Preppers should have large amount of salt stored. Salted meat will keep a very long time,my father and mother had no electricity for a great period of their lives. Salt and smoking was the way they kept meat from slaughtered farm animals going rancid.The settlement of Boonsville in USA had two major threats,Indian attack during the war of independence and running out of salt to preserve the meat that was hunted. We may all face similar threats if TSHTF. Cheers Grant
there are something like 14 million gun owners and 4 million cops whos confiscating what,2 when so heavly outnumberd the cops need your help that’s not going to happen during a gun grab
Beth A Miner says
Driving horses is a lost skill. Putting in a shallow well in advance is a great idea..ham radios need power so definitely solar is important..if you keep chickens hide them people will eat a chicken and there goes your egg source! Goats will give you milk and meat but you need to have the skills to butcher it and process the milk..there will be no refrigerators..learn to can..dehydrate..and be sure to have an underground storage area for cooling. So many lost skills..find a farmer or two or three and learn from them..
Interesting article to make folks think about survival in a no power situation.
I’ve added enough off grid power to survive. My heater is a rocket stove with a pellet hopper added. The heat container that gathers and radiates heat is 16″ across double walled metal. It gets hot enough to fry a pan of potatoes or keep water hot or even boiling at times. I can burn pellets, chips from our wood chipper, twigs up to 2″ diameter branches 3′ long. I have a heat activated fan to help circulate the passive heat. One well is on regular power. A second well is about to be put on solar but for now a pasta sauce can with a bit of weight will draw water with a winch. A regular well bucket would do also.
I raise chickens, ducks, and rabbits. All take quite a bit of water. So does a garden here on the desert. So water is essential.
Human waste disposal is not a particular problem as we have three different ceptic systems on the property. It would be quite easy to build an outhouse over a ceptic tank clean out opening. Burrying bags of waste 250 feet from water sources and the residence would be impossible on most city lots or for apartment dwellers.
All good reasons to move out of town. That isn’t possible for most folks.
I have plans for an outdoor shower room with a toilet, sink, and garden tub all in one Nicely finished shed. A water tank on a stand will provide water from one of the wells. The tank will warm some in the sun and saves frequent pumping. The roof on all sheds and the home are being prepared for gutters and rainbarrels. That will be gardening water. Trees are planted near an irrigation ditch that flows just outside of my fence. If that spring water to a large pond weren’t released I’d have to start watering the fruit trees just enough to survive.
Yes I think about the possibilities then look for easy solutions. Most take materials and effort but all are doable things for this great grandma. In town it could be a nightmare. I keep 20 gallons of water in cube containers made for stacking. That’s just for short term times if the power to the well is off. My second well is really my backup supply. If drawing water by hand with the winch were necessary we’d survive but it sure would add to the work load. On camping trips I take milk jugs of water. I can keep some cool in the shade and let some warm in the bright sun. It plenty warm to do dishes or stand in a washpan and pour warm water to wash hair and body in a make do shower. That could easily be done almost anywhere IF you have water.
I can and dehydrate foods all year. Leftovers become the base for soups or blended sauces. There is always food on hand to last awhile. Little goes to waste. Even vegetable trimmings from washed vegetables are set in the refrigerator or freezer to collect enough to boil up some broth for soup or gravey. Left over vegetables, cooked or raw, can be spread out on parchment lined cookie sheets to dry for adding to soups later. Just set in the sun or by a sunny window. Stir once in a while . Just dice them in less than half inch pieces so they can dry or rehydrate easily later on. Peas are a good size.
When produce trucks occasionally have been wrecked in our area I’ve been able to salvage large quantities of tomatoes or onions and sometimes even fruits or other vegetables. I spread bed sheets in the sun and dry diced onions, summer squash, or corn still on the cob. Sometimes we roast the corn then dry it. That is best for soups and stews. We store it in cloth bags but if mice are a problem put it in glass jars.
Tomatoes become canned whole or diced, seasoned sauces for pasta, and some seasoned for tomato soup with chicken bullion, basil and a bit of diced onion. All quick and easy to do and great to have on hand. Roma tomatoes can be sliced in 1/4″ slices to dry. Or they can be pureed and put in a wooden bowl in the sun. Stir often till quite thick from losing moisture then spread on parchment paper lined cookie sheets and dried till it’s dry enough to roll up. It will keep for months if the air isn’t too humid. Here on the desert it can keep nearly a year. If it’s too dry to roll then dry it completly and crush up to use like bullion. It won’t be salty but it is good. Slices off the roll or some of the crushed tomato bullion can be added to cooking sauces or soups. The dry crushed can be stirred into boiling water for a pleasant warm broth to drink.
We use a lot of the dried veggies and tomato for camp soups with any added meats. They store well in glass jars, so I also save quite a few jars to have on hand when needed.
Canned or dried veggies with canned meats can make easy but good meals. If you can’t do that, then buy prepared survival foods but don’t go hungry.
Any fruit or vegetable trimming we don’t cook goes into a compost bucket then out to the compost pile. That helps build up the garden soil. It also makes easier to work soil and feeds what we plant.