December 9, 2011

96 HOURS TO THE STONE AGE: How Our Connected Lives Crumble When The Power Goes Out.

A few points. First, you don’t necessarily lose wi-fi and Internet when the power goes out — if you’ve got a backup source of power for your cable/dsl modem and router. I use a big honking UPS that’s enough to keep those two low-consumption items going for days. An inverter is another possibility. Also, have some flashlights and plenty of spare batteries. One of those LED room lamps might be nice, too.

Second, what’s this about being “one of the rare people” who owns a battery-powered radio? Everybody should have a hand-cranked / battery/solar radio for emergencies.

Third, running out of gas? If you own a gas station, you should really have a generator so you can keep at least one pump going in emergencies. (This is likely to pay off financially, and in long-term goodwill, too.) Also, for those who don’t own gas stations, it’s a good idea to keep your car tank at least half-full.
Fourth, running out of cash because ATMs don’t work? Keep a couple of hundred bucks around in small bills. (And some change, too).

And you should have extra blankets, and maybe an alternate source of heat, this time of year. Plus more warm clothes, and some wool socks put away against long-term chill.

Aside from the quibbles above, here’s the key point in the piece: “This is a serious threat, and we need to take it seriously. s I’ve thought about our reliance on pervasive connectivity over the last year, I’ve spoken with C-level executives from both the tech side and the utility side. They get it. But they have businesses to run, customers to serve, business targets to achieve to keep their jobs. It is critical to recognize that the pace of our reliance on pervasive connectivity via our wireless devices is rapidly outstripping our ability to deal with the absence of those services. We need to recognize the extent that our wireless infrastructure is increasingly core to our personal, family, and societal existence. For now, it is a fragile core.”

Yes, it is. It needs to be toughened up.

UPDATE: Reader Marc Greendorfer writes: “I recently bought this portable solar power source. It worked well for me on a hunting trip (charging an Android phone, GPS device and providing a steady source of recharged batteries), though some of the reviews are fairly harsh. It’s nice to be able to open up something the size of a file folder and leave it in the sun as you camp/hike/survive and come back to fully charged batteries/devices. I imagine it would be priceless in a 96 hours situation.” Or in hours 97+.