high-tension wires, sunset
Photo by Val Vesa
According to a new report, Americans should prepare themselves for six months without electricity.

In a new report from the President’s National Infrastructure Advisory Council and published by the Department of Homeland Security, the government is urging the public to prepare for the up to six months without electricity, transportation, fuel, money, and healthcare. DHS is warning that the electric grid is now the “prime target” of terrorists (or EMPs), and says Americans need to be prepared for a power outage of up to six months. The report says that “People no longer keep enough essentials within their homes, reducing their ability to sustain themselves during an extended, prolonged outage. We need to improve individual preparedness.”

The report, titled “Surviving a Catastrophic Power Outage”,  warns that an attack would likely come with little to no notice and could cause complete chaos for at least a half a year,  “Long-duration, lasting several weeks to months (at least 2 months, but more likely 6 months or more) due to physical destruction to equipment, such as transformers or transmission lines; or the severity of the event resulting in limited workforce to repair damage, or inability to create or transport replacement parts,” said the report.

“This profound risk requires a new national focus. Significant public and private action is needed to prepare for and recover from a catastrophic outage that could leave the large parts of the nation without power for weeks or months, and cause service failures in other sectors – including water and wastewater, communications, transportation, healthcare, and financial services — that are critical to public health and safety and our national and economic security,” said the advisory council.

A Second Report

The report is the second in the last month to warn of a “profound threat” to the U.S. electric grid from terrorism and events like a solar storm or solar flare. A prior government report also recommended presidential action to protect the grid from attacks.

In that report, from the Air Force’s Air University, the military warned an EMP-style attack could wipe out the United States, democracy, and the world order. They also warned that:

  • 99 nuclear reactors would likely melt down without electricity to cool them.
  • 4.1 million would be displaced from areas around the nuclear plants as the radioactive cloud spread.
  • Military and commercial jets, such as those built by Airbus, could be degraded. “Alarmingly, aircraft designed to carry large numbers of people and sizable cargo are allowed to operate without certainty about their level of resilience.”
  • Bases would be cut off, making defense and counter-attacks impossible.
  • Civil unrest would start in “hours.”
  • Power and GPS could go dark. “An EMP would cause instantaneous and simultaneous loss of many technologies reliant on electrical power and computer circuit boards, such as cell phones and GPS devices.”
  • “Failures may include long-term loss of electrical power (due to loss of emergency generators), sewage, freshwater, banking, landlines, cellular service, vehicles.”
  • Eighteen months or more are required to replace key elements of the electric grid that would be damaged or knocked out.

Ready Yourself

As many as 250,000 to 500,000 deaths will occur immediately following a large-scale EMP event as commercial airliners lose power and drop from the sky, medical life support systems stop running, power plants and hydroelectric generators fail catastrophically, pacemakers give out, and other similar effects ripple across the nation. But assuming you’re not one of these unlucky first casualties, your chances of immediate survival are actually rather high.

EMPs don’t harm the human body. You won’t even know an EMP has occurred until you try to turn on a light, start a car, or make a phone call. Immediately following an EMP, you’ll need to decide whether to stick around or get out of Dodge. Your situation may vary, but if you are in an urban city center, life will get difficult sooner rather than later, and sticking it out with millions of other cold, hungry, and desperate people may prove fatal.

Be Prepared

You could lay in a few years’ supply of food and vitamins in a hidden backwoods enclave not likely to be discovered by roving bands of raiders. It would need a water well with a manual pump or access to fresh water nearby. It would be wise to obtain some water purifying and medical supplies, of course.

For communication and information gathering you would need to protect some hand-held ham radios, a shortwave radio, their battery chargers and a solar charger inside a homemade nested faraday cage.

For transportation, any old car that doesn’t rely on electronics to function would do well. Don’t forget to stockpile several hundred gallons of preserved fuel.

Surviving the years of starvation and chaos following a devastating EMP is every bit as challenging as surviving an old-school nuclear holocaust.

In the immediate aftermath of an EMP, the steps you’ll need to take to survive will vary depending on where you live, your health, the weather, resources in the area, and the supplies and tools available to you. This guide can’t address every possible factor that could influence your situation, but if you want to survive, no matter where you are, preparation is critical. Start now.

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