The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) urged the public to be prepared for a power outage that may last up to six months. In a report from the agency’s National Infrastructure Advisory Council, it warned that a sudden attack would likely occur and could cause chaos for at least half a year as the electric grid is now the prime target of terrorists.
“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.
The advisory council urged Americans to prepare by having enough supplies on hand for at least 14 days. But this number appears to be grossly inadequate, considering the threat and the timeline for reestablishing essential services after an attack. (Related: Do you know what to do during a power outage? Here are 5 essential things you need.)
This isn’t the first warning about a threat to the U.S. electric grid from terrorism. In an earlier report by the Air Force’s Air University, the military warned that an EMP-style attack could wipe out the country, democracy, and the world order. The report also said that it would take at least 18 months to replace key elements of the electric grid that would be damaged or knocked out.
Things you need to do to prepare for an attack
To survive an attack, you need to be prepared to survive for an extended period without electricity, food and water, and essential services.
- Have your own water supply – Water systems rely heavily on electricity to operate, and a power outage means that you will lose access to water. Therefore, you need to start storing your own water. You can start by storing cases of water bottles around for emergencies. Remember to rotate your water storage as water can go stale after a long period. You will need to have at least one gallon of water per person per day. This will be used for drinking, cooking, bathing, and cleaning.
- Stock up on food – Food and water are essential for survival, and these two will likely be scarce during a long-term power outage. Start stocking extra of what you usually eat, focusing on dry goods.
- Have cash on hand – Your debit and credit cards are going to be useless during any type of grid-down situation, so it’s best to have cash on hand. You will need money to buy last-minute supplies and to deal with the first stages of the disaster.
- Stock up on firearms – When SHTF, the unprepared masses may become unpredictable and threaten to your life. At this point, security is a top priority. You should be taking measures to protect yourself and your family, so stock up on firearms and learn how to use them in case of emergencies.
- Prepare a backup power source – You may want to consider investing in solar chargers, power generators, and portable battery backups in case of emergencies. Make sure to have backup power to run things like emergency radios, flashlights, and other emergency gears.
- First aid kit – Rescue may not be as quick as usual if the grid goes down, so its best to have your own first aid kit at home, in your car, and in your office. Prepare whatever you need or might need to take care of yourself and your family. You may also want to consider getting CPR training and basic first aid before you need it.
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Written by Melissa Smith