February 10, 2015

in Negative Events

The normal utility electric power supply fails and there is no electricity. This is most often cause by a weather related event such as ice on power lines or tree branches, but it is also frequently caused by car accidents that destroy a utility pole, taking down power lines. Less frequent are transformer and substation problems caused by squirrels, birds and snakes. Some power outages are related to problems with the supply grid or volume vs capacity issues and these can take the form of brownouts where supply is decreased or even blackouts where the supply is halted. Most residential homes and small businesses do not have large backup power supplies. They may have some small UPS battery systems that can keep electronic devices running for a short amount of time.


  • Brownout or rolling blackout – temporary reduction or outage
  • Short term outage from normal causes
  • Longer outage from normal causes
  • EXTREMELY long outage from abnormal causes (terrorist attack, solar flare, EMP)


  • Short term loss of function (less than one hour) – few important consequences
  • Medium term loss of function (several hours or overnight) – refrigeration, lighting, security, heating/cooling, cooking
  • Long term loss of function (from one to several days) – all functions come into play
  • EXTREMELY long or permanent loss of function – life threatening scenario

NOTE – In cases with extremely long outages, it becomes important to either assess that probability early or be able to adjust dynamically as the length of the outage continues. EXAMPLE: Most municipal water supplies are power grid dependent and will fail with a widespread and lengthy power outage. EMP is probably the most dire scenario. It is possible to differentiate an EMP from a routine short term outage by testing battery operated electronic devices.

Select applicable CONTINGENCY PLANS

  • Electric Power Failure
  • Hunker Down and Ride It Out (HDARIO) Plan
  • BUGOUT (evacuation) Plan
  • Emergency Stores Plan
  • Emergency Survival Plan
  • Communication Systems Failure
  • Medical Emergency Plan

Scenario: ElectroMagnetic Pulse (EMP) and Solar Flares
Scenario: BIG STORM

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