What If The Grid Goes Down? (How To Survive It)

The fact that you’re reading this article means you’re hooked into the grid. The grid refers to the power grid. It’s the massive interconnected system that keeps everyone powered and communicating 24/7. This is a far-reaching, complex system kept running by hundreds of thousands of people. What if it all suddenly stopped? Is this even possible?

Useless power lines if the grid goes down.

Yes, and it’s terrifying.

What Can Cause It?

I’ll start with how this could happen. The flashiest options are also the least likely. One method of taking down power grids would be with EMP attacks. These electromagnetic pulse weapons are just missiles with a heck of a payload. There’s a chance that another world power could use one of these, but it’s not likely. This would be a massive act of war that would lead to the destruction of society as we know it. 

Unfortunately, there’s a natural phenomenon that’s unpredictable and just as dangerous. That’s solar flares. There are solar flares all the time, most of the time we don’t notice. About 150 years ago, just such a solar flare hit us. Some scientists believe we’ll see another one within the coming decades. It knocked down telegrams and some operators even reported getting shocked. Since the technology was new and not big, damage was small. If a solar flare of that size happened today, the damage would be trillions of dollars.

Not only would the damage be expensive, it would be disruptive. This is much scarier for the average person. Governments and big companies will get supply chains back on track, but how long will it take. You can bet anything that the gap is going to be chaos.

But even though some scientists believe a solar flare is coming, it’s still not likely. What is likely, are cyber attacks. USA Today states that a cyber attack hits the grid about every 4 days. All it would take is for one of these attacks to be more successful than they are. Power outages already cost us $33 billion a year to fix, and that’s with them being as small as they are. 

So if the big one hits, what happens?

What’ll It Look Like If The Grid Goes Down

First off, it’s going to get quiet. Most people aren’t used to the silence that would follow a grid down event like these. Fortunately and unfortunately, it wouldn’t stay quiet for long. Some businesses might have generators but stores would close fast. At this point, the panic would start. You’d see a drastic spike in “survivor crimes”. These are things like looting and self defense around the looting, the things you might see around other disasters, but worse. This makes stores and major streets dangerous places to be. 

If the grid was knocked down by a cyber attack, it should be back up soon. This is why preparation is important. If you’ve got even a week up supplies at home, you don’t have to go out and try to get it. You can hunker down with your family and wait for things to get back under control.

Irreparable Damage

If it was an EMP, this may be a different story. EMPs damage circuitry. This damage can’t be reversed from a distance. Electronics would need replacing. The time to get the world back up and running gets a lot longer. There’s a chance that the world may never fully recover from the chaos that follows this. This is the kind of situation that bugging out can help. Once stores are picked clean, looters will turn to residences. Your supplies are only good if you can hold onto them. Getting out of dodge, especially in urban areas, will put space between you and unrest.

We live our lives completely intertwined with the grid. In a way, the fates of the grid and society are intertwined. By preparing for major disruptions, you detach yourself from this reliance. By having plans to follow, you keep yourself from falling into the chaos.

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SHTF Scenario: What Is It And What Does It Look Like?

What Is A SHTF Scenario?

SHTF scenario is a term that’s gained a lot of popularity. Especially among preppers and people interested in prepping, and especially recently. What it stands for is “Sh** Hits The Fan”, which is a colorful phrase to describe a very bad situation. If you haven’t heard the phrase before, you probably get the mental image. In this article I’ll talk about some of the most popular theories on what’s finally going to hit and destabilize society. Pushing it to the point that the SHTF.

SHTF scenario aftermath

SHTF Scenario: Regional Disaster

Let’s kick it off with a very realistic example: Hurricanes. When a major hurricane is headed towards you, the government will issue evac orders. Normally, you’ll have some time to prepare. But this is a situation where having bug out bags and a game plan will really pay off. Let’s take this up a notch.

Not all regional disasters will give you advanced warnings. Major earthquakes and tsunamis come out of nowhere. And they can immediately throw a city into full chaos. This would certainly be considered a SHTF scenario, even though it’s just a local one. If you live on a fault line or a coast, you need to have a plan in place on where you’re going to go if something like this happens.

Nation-Wide Disasters

Let’s kick the natural disaster up another notch. Let’s talk country wide-disaster. If you’re read into this doomsday stuff one of the first things you learn about is Yellowstone. Underneath Yellowstone is a supervolcano. That supervolcano is due to erupt at any time, this is fact, not speculation. This science of course isn’t exact, so we don’t know when this will happen, or even if we’ll get any sort of warning. Unfortunately we also don’t know the extent of the damage when this will occur. Projections put the plume of ash alone from this eruption all the way east to Missouri.

Some estimates say that the resulting ash cloud could blot out the sun. Causing clouds for long enough to cause a nuclear-winter style cooling effect. That winter would wreak havoc on global supply lines and every society on the planet. A small meteor could have a similar effect. And we have absolutely no way of knowing when or where those could come from. This is a SHTF scenario that there really wouldn’t be a lot of “safe places” to go to. So you’d really need to have a plan for the continued survival of your and your family.

SHTF Scenario: Economic Collapse

SHTF scenarios don’t have to include some external natural event. Economic collapse is a very real possibility, one that we’ve seen in the relatively recent past. The great depression of the 1930’s resulted in unprecedented hardship. The financial system had to be completely reworked. This is just a local example, though. Economic collapses happen all too often around the world. And there’s no reason to think that something like this couldn’t happen to us in modern times.


Pandemics are another possible SHTF scenario. The Covid-19 crisis is a big deal, but it could have been a lot worse. The threat of biological terrorism is ever present. And the problem is that once the genie is out of the bottle on a seriously contagious and seriously deadly disease, it can’t be turned back. This was seen during the Black Death in Europe. Vast swaths of the population died and there was really no way of avoiding it. It worked its way through the population and you either were immune, you survived it, or you died.

SHTF Scenario: Man Made Disaster

Electromagnetic pulses could come from the sun, making them a natural occurrence. But they can also come from military weapons. A global reaching EMP would fry electronics across the world. And it would bring the grid as we know it down permanently. Power as we know it would need to be rebuilt from the ground up.

This brings us to the last SHTF scenario I’ll talk about here: war. It is a tragic reality that war rages across the globe every day. First world countries are not safe from this threat. We have been fortunate enough not to have seen a world war in over 80 years. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t numerous and very strong tensions between major world powers.

The world has been sitting on a powder keg since the cold war. If full scale war broke out between world powers, there’s not telling the extent of the damage. Since the invention of the nuclear bomb, the world has been afraid of a global nuclear war. A war of this scale would certainly constitute a SHTF scenario. And we’d all be lucky if we’re still around after to try and bug out.

There are a lot of possible scenarios that could mean you have to leave life as you know it behind. All you can do is hope for the best and prepare for the worst.

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