The Horrifying Reality of a Long Term Blackout

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The Horrifying Reality of a Long Term Blackout

Have you ever thought about what would happen if a massive, long-term blackout were to affect the United States (or the world)? 

First, let’s clearly define what a ‘long-term blackout’ is in this case. This does not refer to a short-term power outage that affects your town or a regional area. A ‘long-term blackout’ in this case refers to a complete grid-down scenario where the electricity grid gets knocked out…and stays knocked out for weeks or months (or even longer). 

In other words, it refers to a world where we will be thrown back to the 19th century. We will have to learn how to live without the infrastructure and basic public necessities we've come to take for granted. I'm talking about a world where crime becomes rampant as the streets descend into anarchy. 

As a prepper, you may think you’re ready for such an event. But are you really? Here are just a few of the horrifying things that could happen during a long term blackout.

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No Electricity 

The first thing that will happen in the event of a long term blackout, such as one caused by a solar flare or an EMP attack, is the electric grid getting completely knocked out. 

Electricity is something we take for granted in our everyday lives. Have you thought about what life would be like if electricity ceased to exist? 

It means there will be no light or heat indoors, that power outlets won't work, that we won't be able to charge our devices, and that our electric appliances will be useless.

Suddenly, you’re going to have to think about how to light and heat the inside of your home, how to cook food without a microwave or a stove, and how to save the food that you have stored in your refrigerator and freezer. 

Banks Will Close

Those credit cards and debit cards you keep in your wallet will become worthless in an instant. What’s worse is you won’t be able to access your bank accounts online either. In other words, you will have no way of accessing your financial or investment accounts or withdrawing funds from them.

The only money you will have is literally the cash in your wallet or the emergency money you keep in your home (hopefully you set aside money for such an event).

Making matters even worse is that it would only be a matter of time before cash becomes useless too. Remember, money in our society doesn’t exist. It only has value because we say it does and serves as a unit of exchange in our ‘normal’ world.

But in an abnormal and long term blackout situation, will people really be thinking about money, or will they be thinking about food, water, gasoline, medicine, and other necessities they need to survive? 

The emergency cash you have at home will likely be good for a few days, but once it dawns on people that the apocalypse is occurring, physical items of actual value will become the new units of exchange.

Riots and Chaos in The Streets

Gas Stations Will Close

The Mad Max series of films depict a post-apocalyptic world where the few survivors fight savagely with one another for what little gasoline is left just so they can get around. That’s honestly not far from what a real long-term blackout scenario might look like.

Gas stations will be forced to close because the gas pumps will no longer work. In an instant, gasoline will become one of the most valuable things we need, because without it, we can’t operate our cars, ATVs, motorcycles, and other vehicles.

Yes, there are electric cars, but you won’t be able to charge them either. This is why properly and safely storing gasoline is so important (and why keeping your gasoline storage a secret is equally as important as well). 

Grocery Stores Will Close

Grocery stores across the country will start closing very quickly after a blackout occurs, and they will also become the sites of mass looting and rioting very soon. The riots we saw in select cities in 2020 would just be a ‘sample’ of what we would see erupt in every city and town across the entire country. 

When the blackout hits, take your emergency money and go down to the grocery store to buy as much food and necessities as you can as quickly as possible. It will likely only be a matter of hours before those grocery stores close their doors. Soon after, the doors and windows will get broken down by rioters. With that in mind…

You Won’t Be Able To Go Out and Buy Food Anymore

With grocery stores (and restaurants) closing down, you won’t be able to go out and buy food anymore. Just like with gasoline, food and water will turn into very valuable commodities because we all need it to survive, and people will become desperate for it overnight. There won’t be any trucks for resupply, either. 

Living in a city is likely to put you at a significant disadvantage versus those living out in rural areas, because you won’t be able to hunt or forage for your own food. Store as much food as you can that doesn’t require freezing or refrigeration, and try to grow or raise food if you can.

Otherwise, the only other options you’ll have for finding food are bartering and scavenging, both of which are very dangerous endeavors. 

Take note that when the government enacts martial law, they’re likely to confiscate food and create food rationing to help keep the population under control (more on this later). The point: Don’t just store your food—figure out how to hide it as well. 

Water Will Become Dangerous To Drink 

When the blackout hits, you'll still have running water for a little while, but eventually the water towers will be empty and they won't have the power to pump more water into them, let alone to treat the water and make it safe to drink.

So when the blackout does hit, place buckets or cups under every sink and tub you have in the house and fill them up fast to get whatever water you can.

The biggest issue after a blackout hits will not be finding water but finding clean water that you can drink. Most cities have an abundance of man-made ponds, lakes, and fountains at public parks, and those living in rural areas can still collect water from lakes and streams as well. This is also why bottled water will become a precious commodity as well: the water in them is safe to drink. 

Have a family-sized water filter on standby and set up a rain catchment system as well. Each time it rains, take advantage of it.

Rainwater Pouring Into Barrel

The Internet and Cell Service Likely Won’t Work 

With the electrical grid knocked out, you can forget about recharging your phones, tablets, laptops, and other electric devices. Your generators are only going to run for as long as you can power them with gasoline, and any external battery packs you have aren’t going to be recharged.

There are solar-powered external battery packs that can be recharged under the sun, but in the event of an EMP attack or a solar flare, the electrical devices themselves may be knocked out and cease to work. 

Either way, get ready to rely on other sources of communication, such as HAM radios. Do you want a way to call or get in-touch with your family members or friends across the country? Think about how you can do it without SMS text messaging or phone calls and prepare appropriately. 

Garbage Will Pile Up

Trash and garbage will pile up literally everywhere. The trash collection and disposal services of cities and towns won’t be in operation, so the streets are going to become filthy and littered with trash (and worse) very quickly. 

You’ll need to come up with a plan for how you can collect and dispose of your trash, whether it be composting, moving it to another location (if you can do so safely), or burning it. 

Consider investing in N95 masks as well – not only to to protect, but from the incredibly foul stench that will arise as well. Also invest in plenty of personal hygiene products, for these too will become indispensable commodities when the blackout hits. 

It’s not just trash that will become backed up

Sewage Will Back Up 

The water will stop running completely during a blackout scenario, which means toilets will no longer be flushing. As gross as it is to think about, this is arguably the most overlooked aspect of a doomsday blackout scenario.

Just as trash and garbage will litter the streets, if the sewer system backs up and overflows, urine and feces will litter the streets, as well. This creates an obvious safety hazard.

Have you thought about how you would dispose of waste if the toilets aren’t working anymore? The best approach is to invest in black garbage bags that can serve as makeshift ‘toilets,’ then tie the bags shut before burying them at least three feet underground (and at least two hundred feet away from your home or any source of water). 

Martial Law Will Be Enacted

Chances are extremely high (if not absolutely certain) that a state of emergency will be declared following a long-term blackout. Military and police units will be mobilized and called in to take control of cities.

Roads will become blocked off, checkpoints will be established, and there will be violent confrontations between looters and law enforcement and military units as the government will move quickly to try and gain control. 

Riot Police During Martial Law

Firearms Will Likely Be Confiscated…

It’s not discussed very often, but firearm confiscation was a very real event that happened during and after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. There were specific jurisdictions in Louisiana where the authorities declared that firearm ownership would no longer be tolerated, and police units went door-to-door looking for and confiscating guns

Do you think your guns are kept protected in your gun safe? They may be kept protected from home intruders and house fires, but that gun safe will be the first place the police look when they come barging into your home demanding you hand over your weapons. 

…and Food and other Necessities May Be Confiscated Too 

Yes, it’s not just guns that could become confiscated, but food, water, and other necessities may be confiscated too.

Why would the authorities confiscate food and water when both are needed for the population to stay alive? That’s exactly why: The official reason will be that they want to distribute resources so it’s ‘fair’ for everyone. They’ll collect as much food and water as they can, then ration it out to people via bread and water lines. 

Crime Will Skyrocket 

Have you thought about how desperate people will get following a blackout disaster? It’s not just the people who are already crazy and belonging in mental institutions now. Once ordinary people who didn’t prepare will become absolutely desperate to keep themselves and their families alive when the blackout strikes, and will go to any means necessary to do so. 

People who you previously thought weren’t capable of committing violence may suddenly become the most desperate and violent people around. This is why it’s so critical that you don’t ever announce to the world that you’re a prepper and stockpiling food. Only tell people you trust completely.

If you tell just anybody, they may not care right now, but they'll remember you when the blackout hits. Keep your storage and preparations a secret and hidden so visitors can’t easily see anything.

There are some estimates that 90% of the total population would become wiped out in under a year in the event of a global EMP attack. Many of those deaths will come from people killing each other as they turn into savages just to stay alive. 


A sudden and long-term blackout would be significantly more devastating and life-altering than an ordinary power outage. With the above realities of what a long-term blackout will look like in mind, start thinking carefully about how you can prepare.

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