Experts worry most about the grid’s nervous system: 2,000 extra-high voltage transformers. They’re 200- and 300-ton behemoths, individually engineered to meet specific power demands, and on average, they’re 40 years old. Notwithstanding the fact that 85 percent of transformers are imported, the U.S. Department of Energy says it takes between 5 and 16 months to replace a single one. According to the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Committee, an attack that destroyed nine of the 2,000 transformers would “cause a protracted nationwide blackout.” There’s no national cache of spare transformers.
One factor, Mills argues, is that the organizations responsible for coordinating that emergency support tell them they should be ready to deal without it. "Federal agencies have recently encouraged American citizens to contemplate surviving disasters without their assistance," Mills writes, citing a previous study. And the government also warns people to be ready for risks that have never materialized. Since 2003, a group within the Department of Homeland Security has advocated that people "have a ‘safe room’, duct tape, and plastic sheets on-hand to secure their home against (unprecedented) chemical terrorist attacks."
Newer innovations have allowed mobile phone users to still communicate in recent floods using the GoTenna devices, which are paired with mobile phones to create their own mesh network and communicate without needing a phone signal. These are much more limited in range than HAM radios though and only have a 5-7 mile reach. It is possible to send a message further but that would have to be through the meshing or ‘hopping’ through these devices.
“I’m actually responsible, indirectly, for the end of the meetups,” Dr. Shealy tells me inside his Springfield clinic off Chestnut Expressway, and not just because he thinks the earth is more than 6,000 years old. (Andrew: says you can’t trust anyone who believes that.) He sports a red crewneck, navy blue sweatpants, a stretchy metal watch and rectangular glasses. The 85-year-old—he’s more energetic than most people half his age—specializes in holistic medicine; the first thing he asks me is my birthday, and do I know what my astrological sign means. On my way out, he asks if he can hug me, and when I oblige, a toothy grin pulls wide the spritely doctor’s cheeks. “I believe it’s an important part of human contact,” he says.
Bombs rain from the skies, alien ships descend with lasers ablaze, improbably proportioned, irradiated sea monsters tear through essential infrastructure. You'd think that running, screaming, and finding clean underwear would top the list of activities likely to improve your chances of living, followed closely by finding a sustainable food source and offering sexual favors to the person with the most impressive arsenal. Unless you were a prepper, in which case you'd be worrying more about the safety of your cigarette stockpile.
You need two gallons of water per person per day. This is actually higher than is strictly necessary but you will be very unhappy if you ever have to restrict yourself to this amount. I store enough water for everyone in my household for a bit more than two weeks. Get a WaterBOB because it is so inexpensive and easy. Once you have those basic levels you then have to have a means to filter more water for your use. I highly recommend getting at least two Sawyer Squeeze and consider getting something like a Big Berkey. Find a way of collecting rainwater if you can. If you live in a desert, unfortunately you're going to have to find a way to store a lot of water.
Personal defense items – such as rifles and heavy firearms – are going to be increasinly hard to manage the farther you move from steady supplies. Ironically, it’s firearms that help acquire more food, provide personal protection, and deter others from attacking. In a SHTF scenario, heavy armament is only good within fortified areas. If you want to stay highly mobile, switch down to a .22LR polymer rifle such as the Savage survival rifle or similar. Lightweight, collapsible, and perfect for hunting game. Loaded with subsonic rounds, it can also be a lot more efficient than heading off a target with a loud 30-06.