Civil Defense Volunteers of Utah January 2020 Meeting: Grid Down (Part 1A)

By Ken Moravec A kind thank you to our guest speaker Ken Moravec who lead our CDVU meetings for January and February 2020. Just in case you were unable to attend, we have listed Kens notes below for your reference.

In the event of grid down and staying home – Day One

Grid Down Definition: being without electricity and everything that runs on electricity for an extended period of time; many months and possibly years. Not just a power outage. Before we get into this topic, we are supposing you are home or have been able to get home fairly quickly. We can talk about not being home in a separate article. Before reading any further get two pieces of paper and something to write with. On one piece of paper I want you to write down the first 10 things you would do in a grid down scenario. Just write whatever you think should happen in your home and/or circumstance. There are no wrong answers just maybe a wrong sequence. Get started then we will resume. On the next piece of paper write down the first 10 things you would do in the same grid down scenario but now it is in the middle of winter. My guess is most everything you have written will change somewhat in order of importance or you may have added new items to the list. Now you have two lists. Look them over. I will share several items that are on my personal list and why I have them or why they are in the order they are.

Day One and the First Couple Hours

My family is my top priority. I want to try and track them down and get them home. They all know what they need to do in this event and so worrying too much about them is not too much of an issue. . . unless of course they don’t show up. Next is to find out how much of a problem this is. Is this just a power outage or is it more severe like grid down? Is it an EMP? If it is an EMP almost every form of communication will be down and so only EMP hardened radio stations, like KSL and KBYU in Utah, will be broadcasting; as long as they didn’t take a direct missile hit. At that point I would get my HAM radios out of their faraday cages and determine how far and how severe this is by talking with other HAM radio operators. If other radio stations are broadcasting using backup generators, then it is not an EMP. Once I have determined this really is severe and most likely a grid down then I will continue with my list. Bugging Out? If I have any inclination to bug out or leave for an alternate location now is the time to get packed up and ready to go. Otherwise, if I am staying home, I will continue with this list. Bugging out will be a whole other article.


Gather Items Go to the closest grocery store with cash and see how much of my “clean out the store†list I can get. If it is an EMP AND I am NOT suspicious of a nuclear attack most likely my vehicle will not be running and so I would need to walk down there with my handcart and an additional armed person to watch the handcart while I am inside. If it is not an EMP I would take my truck and again, an additional armed person to watch my truck. This “clean out the store†list is a list I compiled with my wife of things that we would like to get last minute if possible. Because we have sufficient food storage there is nothing that we really need but just things we would like if possible. The list is separated into all the stores we shop at including those my wife could stop at on her way home from work. This way we divide up our ability to get more items. We can discuss this more in depth at another time if you would like. Again, remember to take cash because no stores, if they are actually selling anything, will be able to take credit cards. Nighttime Event? Prepare Lighting If this event happens at night, then as soon as possible I would get out some flashlights to do as much prep work as possible. I have made light sconces for emergency times. These sconces hang on a wall out of small children’s reach and are used by lighting a plumber’s candle and putting the candle in the sconce and a glass chimney on them. The sconce also has a small mirror on it to reflect the light. Although the glass helps with better lighting, its main purpose is to make sure the flame is not extinguished when people walk past. Daytime Event? Prepare Power Sources If it is still daylight outside then I would start hooking up my standalone solar panels, to get the maximum amount of sunlight from them, to my standalone 12-volt batteries on the south side of my house. I have what I call a “12-volt power center†that allows me to hook up batteries, solar panels, a fuse box, and a charge controller to a bank of Anderson connectors. This allows me to charge batteries AND connect 12-volt appliances to it and run them directly. I can also add a power converter to be able to hook up regular 110-volt items to it. Collect Water From all Available Sources Water is my next concern, especially as I live on a hill and water does not flow uphill. If there is still water pressure, I would fill up every empty container I have including: every sink, tub (using a water bob), pitcher and wash basin and topping off my hot tub. With the sinks, as I know the drains all leak, I would put duct tape over the drain before filling. I would also do that to my tub if I didn’t have the water bob. When the lines are all drained, I would shut the water off at the meter to keep any upstream issues from entering and contaminating what little water I have left. Yes, I know all this is temporary and won’t last but it gives me water for a few days while I come up with a more permanent solution. The 500 gallons in my hot tub is not for consumption but can be used for hygiene and watering my garden. In addition to the hot tub, I have another 500 gallons stored in bottles and barrels. Again, this won’t last, but does give me more time until a more permanent solution is found. More to follow on this for day two. Storage for Medication That Needs to Be Cooled As I am a diabetic my insulin is my next concern and the whole reason for me getting into solar energy. I have a small 12-volt cooler that will hold my year and a half supply of insulin. I would fill the cooler and hook it up to the power center to keep my insulin cool. I have 12-volt extension cables to allow me to put my cooler in a more shaded place. Set Wind up or Battery-Operated Clocks Knowing the time is still important to me, so I would get the few windup alarm clocks that I have using the time on my phone while it still has power. Keep Refrigerated and Frozen Food Cold Food is next, and most importantly is the food in the rapidly warming refrigerator and freezer. The freezer can wait a few days if the door is not opened. With the refrigerator I would pull everything out and put in three coolers; food for day one, two and three. I don’t expect it to last more than that. This way I am not opening food in cooler 2 and 3 and they can stay cool longer. I would put with them as much ice and frozen blue ice packs as I can to help the food stay cooler. Milk and other dairy items should probably not go in cooler 3. Eggs, ketchup, mustard and many other things we like to keep cool can sit on a counter for a very long time. Determine what you have that can stay out of the coolers, so you are not wasting precious cooler space. Label each cooler with contents and what needs to be consumed first. We will talk about the freezer later. Probably the last thing we would do in the timeframe is enjoy all the ice cream in the freezer as we have no way of making it last. Cooking Food Being able to cook my food is important so I’ll set up camp stoves on my back patio which will work until the propane is gone. Setting up a more permanent solution will be covered later. Sanitation Staying clean from the start will solve many medical issues later. With this I would set up a sanitation station in the bathroom and kitchen. In the bathroom with a window, set up a port-a-potty. Keeping my water clean and safe to drink will entail setting up the Berkey water filter with several pre-filters in the kitchen. Personal Comforts Because I have extreme sleep apnea, I sleep with a fan all the time. My 110 fan won’t work so I have a 12-volt fan I can set up and plug into the power center. Safety and Security Keeping my family safe includes keeping watch at night with night vision scopes and other security measures. I won’t go into those here. Heat If it is winter most likely everyone will be sleeping near either the fireplace or the wood burning stove so getting those going and bring in ample wood supply from the wood pile is important. To keep my woodpile from disappearing I would bring the whole thing into the garage where it is mostly safe.

In the Event of Grid Down and Staying Home – Day Two or More

By now I should be mostly settled in and can start working on things: After the first day, but not necessarily the second day – winter or summer. Preserving and Cooking Food Food in the freezer is not going to last very long so I would pull out enough to start drying, canning and smoking. I have built a portable smoker to help with this and also a solar food dehydrator. I have experimented enough with canning over a fire to finally get it right (I hope???) This is an art and not something you start doing in the event of an issue. For cooking the next thing is to set up alternative cooking methods such as solar oven, charcoal briquettes, and tripod for Dutch ovens over my fire pit. Additional Safety Measures To continue with my security, I would board up all the windows and doors I am not using with 3/4†plywood shutters I have already pre-made so I don’t have to try and figure this out with no electricity. Although these suggestions are NOT bullet proof, they can keep security and concealment better than without. Along the lines of light, I would hang light blocking cloth over the windows that I have yet to make shutters for. An additional safety measure would be to put fire extinguishers, which are not already set, in places strategically throughout the house where candle and other fire sources might be. For safety and possible additional meat sources set traps for varmints and anything else that comes in the yard uninvited. Park vehicles in the driveway facing out, clean out and leave unlocked. Siphon all gas from gas tanks from vehicles and put gas in bike shed leave gas caps off with the fill door open. As those less honest come to get your gas this sort of lets them know there is no gas, so they don’t puncture the gas tank. This allows you to put gas in at a future time and use your vehicle. If it was an EMP and vehicles were in the garage push them out on to the driveway for more space for firewood and other things. This also sort of keeps would be thieves from breaking into your garage. Turn Off Utilities Turn off the water at the street and the gas at the meter. Shut sewage off from the house at the sewage clean out port for the house. Be Mindful of More Water Sources For more water make first run to Murdock canal for water with truck and trailer if it is not an EMP, if it is use the handcart. Be Mindful of More Energy Sources Pull out batteries and put them in garage or close to the solar panels for charging in future use. Check on Neighbors and Make Plans Set up a meeting with neighbors to establish community, security, water wells, and sanitation. Back up Computers Using back up batteries and power converters, back up main computer.

After the First Day – Summer Specific

Tend to Garden and Prepare to Collect More Water Start using hot tub water to water garden with watering can, when empty blow the lines and put in plastic liner, fill back up with every rainstorm and any other source, keep the lid on when not raining to slow down evaporation. Keep garden going and start digging up front and back lawns for additional garden space, plant as soon as possible weather specific plants and seeds depending on season. Start helping neighbors with their gardens.

After the First Day – Winter Specific

Collect Water From all Available Sources Drain hot tub into containers for sanitation use and blow lines with whatever pressure is still in the compressor, put a plastic liner in after it is drained to catch any snow or rainfall, keep the lid on when not raining or snowing to slow down evaporation. Drain Water Pipes Drain water from pipes in the house so they don’t freeze. Keep Refrigerated and Frozen Food Cold Depending on outside temperature use the shed as a refrigerator/freezer,  keep it locked when not using. Heat Get out extra blankets and quilts and foam/winter clothing. Long Term Food Preparations Get vegetable seeds started for winter garden in the greenhouse if one is not already planted. Check Power Sources Make sure all batteries outside are winter cold protected. Summary So, here we have discussed a few checklist items from my personal list to do in the first two days. I would highly encourage you to put together your own list of what you would do. Feel free to use line items off my list but please remember to make it your own. Mine has several things that I would do, or that my family would do, due to our unique circumstances. You should include things that might be unique to yours. Now this only includes the first two days. We can discuss from day three on at a separate time. However, for now this should give you food for thought and what you might do. Last bit of advice: practice, practice, practice! Once you have put your list together, do a drill or two with your family and then fill in the gaps. Be safe! Kenneth Related products in our store: