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Power Grid Communication Failure Preparedness

how to communicate if the grid goes down

It can happen after a hurricane or after a wildfire crisis. Flooding could be the cause or even a tornado. How about an earthquake or (oh-no) a sunspot burst or ‘hackers’. Electricity is not coming into your house, and/ or cell phone towers are damaged or just not working. The grid is non-existent. You are alone. And now you are wondering How To Communicate If The Grid Goes Down? And what the heck is that ‘grid thing’ anyway?

Power Grid Shutdown

A grid is a network for delivering electricity from the producer, which is your electric company running power stations to your home via elaborate transmission lines. So if the power grid goes down, water and natural gas may also likely go down at some point, so planning is critical.

Without a plan, many of us would be in a bad situation with an extended grid outage.


What Happens If The Power Grid Goes Down

Well, I think you know what happens. If you have a well for your water supply, you can not run the pump for water. If you need electricity for a stove, you are not cooking. If you have light bulbs, you could do nothing without electricity to get them up a glowing. And if you own a cell tower, you get the idea.

How to communicate with your loved ones or emergency services if the grid goes down will be first and foremost on your mind. Not turning on those lights.

No matter the reason for the situation, it’s important that you should have a family plan in place before any crisis to make hooking up after a disaster easy and to avoid any unnecessary hair-pulling in the meantime.

Off-Grid Communication

So if you want to use a cellphone for off-grid communication, you might be in luck. You should test out the network coverage in your area first. If you live in a remote area, there’s a good chance you’ll have limited or no network coverage. Texting might work in some situations.

I remember after Hurricane Wilma came through town. My cell phone was very limited, but my friend, who was on a different network, had none. So it might come down to a coin-toss situation.

How To Communicate Without Cell Service

First and foremost, you should have a basic and simple means to know what is happening in your neighborhood. And that calls for the old-fashioned transistor radio. How clever is that?

A decent working radio (fresh batteries) will let you know the severity of your current situation surrounding you. News broadcasts will inform you of what and when power may be restored and emergency service situations. And they will tell you if you should stay in place or get out of town.

Suppose it is safe to do so.

Now you can focus on getting in touch with those who matter.

An Amateur Radio is the other radio you should have on your bucket list when communicating with others when the grid goes down. The HAM radio is one of the oldest and best methods for effective communication after a crisis situation. 

It is the method used by FEMA to communicate much-needed information during emergency situations and is also used by your local shelters, police, and fire stations.

It is regulated by the FCC and if you wish to have and use one, you have to be registered with a valid license.

Other Emergency Communication Devices

Satellite CB Radio 

Whatever the crisis is down here, it’s not happening up there. Relying on satellites these phones work during disasters because they rely on satellites rather than standard telecommunication networks. Think Sirius Radio or your Garmin Navigator in your car. They work when you are driving in the middle of nowhere, and your cell phone does not. 

But……they can be expensive to own and also operate. You not only need to purchase the phone itself but also a subscription service where you will be charged by the minute of use. Anywhere from $0.15 to $2 per minute. And in some countries, they are illegal. However, they will get the job done. That job is communicating after the grid goes down.

Best Walkie-Talkies For Preppers

These work great, providing the person you want to get in touch with has the matching one you have. (same frequency). Also, they have to be in range of each other. I’m not talking about a walkie-talkie setup from the toy section of Walmart but a high-quality type that can have a range of up to 100 miles.

A best on a budget would be a MOTOROLA Talkabout T402 Two-Way Radios, and a best of the best would be a BTECH DMR-6X2 Dual Band Two-Way Radio.

When it comes down to How To Communicate If The Grid Goes Down, walkie-talkie radios are the most dependable form of emergency communication. I highly advise that you are prepared to utilize more than one form of communication to stay in touch with those you care about.

Off Grid Phonescommunicating off the grid

Well, sort of. How about a good old-fashioned landline phone? Yes, I still have one, specifically for the emergency situations I may encounter in South Florida.


Cell phones can crap out. Power can be down. But that landline always seems to work because they are not dependent on towers or the electric company.

And if you are lucky and have some change in your pocket, you might find a pay phone. They still exist. It might be a good idea to locate one in your neighborhood. I have access to one about a mile down the road.

Lucky me….. I will not have to take that walk because I have my own landline

Cyber Attacks Today

As if Mother Nature is not enough to worry about, we sometimes deal with cyber attacks. And for the most part, it will all come down to money.

“Most cyber attacks today are financially motivated.”

Kevin Perry

Former director of critical infrastructure protection, Southwest Power Pool

DOE Secretary Jennifer Granholm in June told CNN that enemies of the United States can shut down the U.S. power grid, and “there are very malign actors trying, even as we speak.”

Critical infrastructure systems like those driving power generation, water treatment, electricity production, and other platforms are interconnected to form the energy “grid.” Although beneficial to the public, this grid is vulnerable to cyber-attack by “hacktivists” or terrorists……….read on for the rest of the story….

How To Prepare For Power Grid Failure

As  I mentioned before, the power grid can go down for multiple reasons, so it is best to be prepared beyond the reasoning of how you will communicate if the grid goes down in your neck of the woods.

Here are six basic things to consider before you need to consider them. Before, not after the crisis, when everyone else is going to the closest grocery store with urgency and cash to see how much of their clean-out-the-store list they can get. Too late for most.

  • Lighting-What will you do with no electricity when it gets dark out there? Have flashlights with working batteries? How about battery-operated lanterns? Or fuel-operated lanterns. Have the fuel stashed away? Candles work, too if you’re careful with them. Don’t forget the matches.
  • Batteries-Have extra batteries in the junk drawer. You don’t know how long power will be out, and you might need more batteries than you originally thought. The ones you have in those flashlights might be dead. And remember those cell phones (if they are working). You won’t have backup batteries for them, so don’t use the cell phone for gaming or watching movies. Save that battery charge. 
  • Water-Have a decent supply of water on hand. If you get your water from a home well that’s not working without power. You should have ample water on hand always. Stored in containers for flushing toilets and bottles for drinking. City water users will not have a problem unless the utility company does. Contaminated water could be one of those problems. Have drinking water on hand. Always.
  • A backup Power-A generator would be a good item to have for power grid failure preparedness. Just make sure it’s outside and you have a gas supply for it. Gas stations will most likely be closed due to no power or those last-minute people wiping out the supply.
  • Food-You gotta eat. You should always have a supply of non-perishable food to keep you and your family fed for at least 3 days. If you think of that now, don’t be surprised when you go to the supermarket and see empty shelves.
  • Refrigerators and Freezers the power is out and you do not have a generator, keep those doors closed. You do not want to lose all their food due to spoilage.

How To Communicate Before The Grid Goes Down

It is all about Emergency Preparedness. It is taking action before a crisis happens and well before your neighbors do. You do not want to be competing or much less physically fighting them for what’s left on the supermarket shelves, or gas at the local station.

You will not want to be begging someone for the use of whatever communication device they might have to get in touch with your loved ones.

Regarding communication devices, research what will work best for you and your pocketbook. 

Do it now before the crisis hits the fan.

Don’t be stuck with this:

poor communication after the grid goes down

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