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  • What Everyone Should Know About a Power Grid Attack

    The United States’ power grid has flaws. In fact, we’re definitely not the leader when it comes to protecting our grid. According to Glenn Reynolds, author of many books and the widely popular political blog Instapundit, the Ukraine has better gird security than we do here, and yet they were still hacked in a grand, elaborate manner. So what does that mean for us?

    New York City after Sandy - Power Grid Attack New York City was without power for many days following Hurricane Sandy.

    Well, it means we still have a lot of work to do as a country. Even President Obama admits we’re lagging behind in grid security. So they’re working on it. But, as Reynolds pointed out, the way the government reacted to expected disasters, such as hurricanes Sandy and Katrina, we might be left in the dark for a very long time if our power grid gets compromised. An attack to our grid is something that has never happened before, and if we struggle to recover after expected disasters like hurricanes, then we may very well be left tin the dark for a very long time if our grid goes down.

    Ted Koppel, author of the bestselling book Lights Out: A Cyberattack, A Nation Unprepared, Surviving the Aftermath, calls us a “reactive society,” meaning we don’t tend to be preventive in our actions, but rather decide what to do after an event. When the grid goes down, the time to prepare will be far gone.

    And with the help we can expect from the government (think back to Sandy and Katrina), relying on them might take quite a while. So while you wait for the country’s grid to come back online, how will you be living? Hopefully not in the dark. While it’s not entirely feasible for everybody to set up to go off the grid, it most certainly wouldn’t hurt to do what you can. While this article isn’t about the various methods of going completely off-grid, you can find one of our posts describing off-grid power solutions by clicking here.

    We plan for all sorts of natural disasters because we’ve seen then; they’re common. But we haven’t been the victim of a power grid attack. We haven’t seen how dark it really can be if our power is taken away from us. And so, since we haven’t seen it first-hand, many people just aren’t preparing. This is a complacency problem, and one we need to fix.

    Solar panels - Power Grid Attack Small solar panels can help charge your devices and give you power when other sources refuse to work.

    As was mentioned, going off-grid might be all but impossible for most of us. That being said, we can still collect power on a smaller scale from the sun. Solar panels have become much more portable and cost-efficient. By having a few of these in your emergency prep, you can power your devices and even charge larger power packs. So, if the grid were to go down, you wouldn’t be completely powerless (so to speak).

    But it’s not just extra power you’ll be worried about. You’ll need a way too cook, and most likely you’ll need actual food to cook, too. Then there’s the issue of water. These two necessities of life might be very difficult to come by in a grid-down situation. That’s one reason why prepping for other disasters is so important – if you’re prepared for one, you’re well on your way to being prepared for more.

    But think about what would happen if the grid went down during the winter. In the case of the cyber-attack in the Ukraine, the hackers cause widespread power outages on December 23. If you’re not familiar with Ukrainian weather, it can get pretty cold that time of year. Bringing this back a little closer to home, what would you do if the power went out for a long time during the winter? Would you have enough blankets? Warm clothing? A way to power a heater? Just some things to think about.

    As a nation, we have grown mighty accustomed to the conveniences of power whenever we want it. That could all be gone in a moment. Are you prepared for something of that magnitude? We don’t think about it often because it hasn’t happened to us yet. But it can. And if it does – I ask again – will you be prepared?


    How are you prepared for widespread power outages?


    February - Power Banner - Power Grid Attack

  • Uh Oh...The Power Just Went Out. Am I Ready?

    So there I was, typing away diligently on my keyboard here at work, creating words for you wonderful people to read. My fingers flying, I was virtually unaware of my surroundings. I was in the zone.

    That’s when the power went out.

    The lights went black, and my computer shut off. Of course, our backup lighting gave us enough light that it wasn’t too dark, but it still put my work on hold until the issue was fixed.

    Uh oh candle Ah, yes. The soft glow of candlelight would have been lovely. If only I had had a match...

    My first thought was, “Candles! We need candles!” Because, you know, when else do we get to light candles at work? Fortunately, there was one of our Clear Mist 115 Hour Plus Emergency Candles sitting on the cubicle wall right in front of me. What luck! Unfortunately, I didn’t have any matches or lighters handy. After all, why would I? I’m at work, and burning things at work isn’t a part of my job description (which is a real shame).

    So what did I learn from this unexpected power outage?

    1. I probably should have saved my work a lot sooner…
    2. Thank goodness for backup power.
    3. These kinds of things can – and do – happen when we least expect it.
    4. I need matches.


    Let’s be honest. This little power outage we experienced didn’t have us worried. We had all the freeze-dried food we could ask for in our warehouse, along with all kinds of emergency kits, lights, and other gear and tools that we could easily access (perks of working for an emergency preparedness company, know what I mean?). So, if something bad had happened and we had to stay here, we were set. If we needed first aid, we were set. If we needed freeze-dried food (and some of us argued it was definitely necessary to break into our stash), we were set. And the power came back on just minutes later.

    Everything would have been just hunky-dory. But I got thinking…Power outages don’t happen all that frequently, do they? At least, not where we are. So what are the odds they would happen to me while at work? Of all the millions of people in this country – or even just the state itself – what were the chances my workplace would be affected? I’d say the odds weren’t that great. But you know what? It happened anyway.

    And we can learn from this.

    If you’re like me, I never expect the power to go out. Sure, I’ve planned for it, but I never think it’ll actually happen. Turns out it does. And since it happened here, at work, at a time I never expected (because don’t power outages wait until you’re off work and at home?), my thoughts have turned inward a bit.

    What if I hadn’t been at work, but at home? And what if it hadn’t been light outside, but night time and dark? Would I have been ready?

    And so, to answer those questions, I reflected on what my wife and I have done to prepare. We have flashlights and a hand-crank lantern that’ll glow for hours. We have a way to charge our phone and other devices without needing an outlet.

    Great. We have light. We have enough power to keep ourselves connected (assuming the cell service doesn’t go out, either). But it’s winter time, and that can make for cold sleeping conditions without a heater. Our son has a little space heater in his room because it can be freezing in there, but if the power’s out, what good is that? Our little guy definitely needs to stay warm. I’ll need to add “heat source” to my list of necessary emergency gear.

    If the power were to be out for an extended period of time, would we be able to cook? Besides the food we have in our pantry, we have 72-hour kits for each of us that includes enough food for three days, as well as baking essentials and freeze-dried food in #10 cans. So we have food. Crisis averted.

    But wait, what about cooking it? Well, thanks to a small propane grill (with a full tank of gas) and HydroHeat cooker, we’d be just fine there. We even have a few cases of water bottles, a water filter, and a water barrel filled with even more water. We’d be good for a while, at least.

    uh oh checklistI’m sure you don’t want to hear all about my emergency prep, but I wanted to make a point. What I’m doing is going through a list of everything we have. You can (and should) do the same every so often, too. While I waited for what could have been an emergency (thank goodness it wasn’t), I recommend taking an inventory of your emergency gear before something happens. That can also translate into “now” or “tonight after work.” Basically, if it’s been a while, take a look at your emergency prep.

    What don’t you have? What do you have enough of? What do you need more of? Make a list, check it twice, and don’t wait until it’s too late to get prepared.


    What was an "uh oh" moment that made you evaluate your emergency plans?


    February - Power Banner - uh oh

  • A Prepper's Valentine: Give the Gift of Preparedness

    Valentine Flower Power Give your loved one power over emergencies this Valentine's Day

    When I was in college, every Valentine’s Day I wore a button: “Flowers wilt. Candy melts. Send money.”

    Since then, I’ve realized that money goes away even faster than flowers or candy (actually, the rate at which my money vanishes is proof of both black holes and the existence of faster-than-light travel).

    So what’s a Valentine’s Day gift with staying power? How about a gift that shows your concern for your loved one’s well-being: the gift of emergency preparedness.

    Here are some gift ideas from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Many of those ideas can be found here at beprepared.com.


    • Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
    • Books, coloring books, crayons, and board games, so kids will have something to do.
    • Personal hygiene comfort kit, including shampoo, body wash, wash cloth, hairbrush, comb, toothbrush, toothpaste and deodorant.
    • An emergency kit, like a waterproof pouch or backpack, that contains such things as a rain poncho, moist towelettes, work gloves, batteries, duct tape, whistle and food bars, as well as any of the above items.


    Also, when you’re having your lovey-dovey conversations, consider what readycolorado.com calls the one of the most important: developing an emergency plan for your family.

    First, develop a family communication plan. Ready.gov has templates for communication plans. They tell ways to communicate during a disaster, including family, physician and school phone numbers and out-of-town emergency contacts. Each family member should carry a copy.

    Second, identify types of disasters your household might experience, and plan emergency meeting places for each type, including by your home, in your neighborhood, outside your neighborhood and outside your area.

    Third, schedule times to practice what you’ve discussed.

    “A gift to help prepare for emergencies could be life-saving for friends and family,” said FEMA Region V acting regional administrator Janet Odeshoo in a release. “These gift ideas provide a great starting point for being prepared for an emergency or disaster.”

    So while flowers are nice and all (until they wither and die), perhaps a better way to say "I love you" is to show them how much their life really does mean to you by helping them prepare for emergencies. After all, flowers wilt, candy melts, but emergency preparedness is a meaningful, practical gift that will last much longer.

    - Melissa


    February - Power Banner - Valentine's Day

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