There’s been lots of chatter lately about a long term grid down crisis which could hit the US. This chatter hasn’t been relegated exclusively to alternative news sites, it’s obvious the topic has gotten some traction when a former DHS Secretary speaks about the US’s vulnerability. This coupled with a massive Grid Down Exercise is being planned in November means you no longer need a tin foil hat to discuss this topic seriously. National Geographic has even filmed a movie based on the premise of a grid down scenario which is scheduled to air on October 27, 2013.
American Blackout imagines the story of a national power failure in the United States caused by a cyberattack — told in real time, over 10 days, by those who kept filming on cameras and phones. You’ll learn what it means to be absolutely powerless. Gritty, visceral and totally immersive, see what it might take to survive from day one, and who would be left standing when the lights come back on.
Most recently a report was issued by two researchers which detail how, with somewhat limited expertise, they could shut down the power grid.
“We haven’t found anything we haven’t broken yet,” Mr. Crain said in an interview. At minimum, the two discovered that they could freeze, or crash, the software that monitors a substation, thereby blinding control center operators from the power grid. Mr. Crain likened that capability to “a bank robber being in a bank vault with the camera frozen.”
In the case of one vendor, Mr. Crain found that he could actually infiltrate a power station’s control center from afar. An attacker could use that capability to insert malware to take over the system, and like Stuxnet, the computer worm that took out 20 percent of Iran’s centrifuges, inflict actual physical harm.
“This is low-hanging fruit,” said Mr. Crain. “It doesn’t require some kind of hacker mastermind to understand the protocol and do this.”
The Reality of the Situation
We must be as prepared as we can for a long term grid down scenario, and by that I mean anywhere from 1 to 6 months. The systems which deliver our power have been proven to be vulnerable and officials at the highest levels of government have confirmed that the threat is real. While the intensity and scope of such an attack remains unknown one can only assume that it will be large scale and place millions of people in complete darkness for quite some time. In short, a one way ticket back to the stone age with the click of a mouse.
I freely admit that I am not completely prepared for a long term grid down scenario, who truly is? Even the most well stocked prepper living on a 50 acre farm somewhere in the Redoubt would be touched by such an event, although the impact would be far less I’m sure. Still yet what happens if one requires medical attention or even prescription medication? Surgery isn’t something you can DIY, and while medicinal herbs do have value I’ve yet to see anything pack the punch that Percocet does when it comes to dealing with intense pain.
So what truly can be done about this? The answer is two fold and involves stockpiling while preparing to live without climate control. Having enough food and water on hand to live for an extended period of time without the everyday comforts of life should be an obvious necessity, followed by having a plan to generate more food in an extended outage (gardens, raising animals for meat et al).
One problem many preppers overlook is the lack of climate control during a grid down scenario and the massive effect it will have on society. How many suburban homes or condos have a wood burning fireplace? What happens when the pipes freeze (no running water) and the temps drop below 10 degrees Fahrenheit inside the home? What about when next summer hits and the temps soar, can you imagine living in a modern home (which was not built to flow air properly) without air conditioning? I had a small taste of this earlier this year when my A/C went out, it was not pretty.
Do What You Can
If the lights go out it’s going to be bad, and by that I mean very, very bad. Our society will most certainly tear itself apart in a matter of weeks. The drive for food will force many law abiding citizens to simply “do whatever it takes” to feed their families. As preppers we must be prepared do our best to weather the storm, not taking unnecessary risks and doing what we can with the preps we were fortunate enough to stockpile. It won’t be easy and it certainly will not play out as expected. In my opinion the most important asset during a time like this would be people, the human element so to speak. A tight knit family and community will be able to lean on each other when times get tough, making a lights out scenario easier to manage versus going it alone.
The Bottom Line
In my opinion it’s only a matter of time until we are hit with some sort of event which disables our power grid. While the size, scope and fallout of such an event remain unseen you don’t have to have a PhD to understand how devastating it would be to life as we know it. One must keep prepping and planning, and be prepared to recognize the warning signs once they occur. Being decisive and taking immediate action once the lights go out will greatly increase chances of survival, this versus sitting around and waiting for someone to do something.