Electronic devices like computers, monitors, routers, and modems need a supply of electrons (aka “electricity”) to operate. Power outages, brown-outs, spikes, surges, and the like can take place anytime but are most likely during a disaster. So having a battery backup like an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) makes a lot of sense.

APC Back UPS Pro 1300

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Imagine this city without power or fiber optic data connectivity…

San Francisco, CA

I was reading Bob Owens’ blog when I read this story about a power substation attack back in April and a widespread outage that took place a couple of days ago.  These events may be totally random, isolated incidents.  Another possibility is that somebody is deliberately targeting vulnerable electrical and data nodes in the Bay Area.

…and these are the events that are publicly known.

Now ask yourself what you would do if you suddenly lost power and/or data connectivity.  Do you have flashlights, candles, or other light sources?  How about food that can be prepared without an electric stove?  Have any battery-operated radios that you can use to get information on an outage?  How about your smartphone, do you follow your utility on Twitter?  Think about these and other steps you can take now to prepare for a power outage.  It could happen without warning and really cause a major disruption in your life.  Get started now!

Looks like the Earth narrowly escaped being hit with a massive solar flare.

Credit: Space.com

This could have been a VERY BIG problem for a variety of reasons.  A Solar flare can cause massive damage to electronics, electrical transmission systems, and wireless communications.  You can read about a super solar flare from the 19th Century by clicking here, just imagine the impact a similar event would have today…

The good news is that damaging solar flares are relatively rare and don’t always cause widespread damage to electronics.  However, they can impact the electrical grid and cause widespread power failures.  The loss of power is the most dangerous aspect of solar flares since modern society is dependent on a reliable source of electrical power.  This is why having generators and/or batteries is so important in disaster planning.

In future articles, I will discuss topics like backup power and what to do during extended power outages.  For now, be aware that electrical power is vulnerable to solar flares and other natural phenomena.

If the research is true, over 90% of you own a cell phone and over 60% of you own a smart phone.

However, like all electronic devices they won’t work without…electrons.  All cell phones have batteries of one kind or another.  Over the last ten years great strides have been made in both extending battery life and packaging cells, leading to smaller yet more powerful phones.  Having a working battery to store all those electrons is essential, having a spare cell phone battery is evidence of being well-prepared.

Let’s face it, despite all the advances in battery technology they will eventually start to wear-out and eventually fail.  Having only one battery on-hand means you may be incommunicado until you get a working battery installed.  If you don’t live in a major city or have an older phone, this could become a problem that lasts a few days instead of just a few hours.

The solution is to have a spare cell phone battery (or two) ready to swap-out when the need arises.  I purchased an extra one today for my NSA intelligence gathering and location tracking device smart phone for about $40, which is a cheap insurance policy for staying in touch.  Its a good purchase to make since cell phones/smart phones are great tools to have in an emergency.  My recommendation is that if you have a couple extra twenties in your pocket, get spare cell phone battery today.

Alas, this Blackout requires electricity to amplify the instruments.

What do you do during a real blackout?

I read a helpful article over at Resilient Communities a few days ago that addresses this topic.  It is a worthwhile read and has some good perspective on how more blackouts and brownouts may happen in the future.  There is a lot that goes into power distribution, management, and service, all of which affect its availability.

One other helpful hint, sign up for Twitter and find the accounts for your utility companies.  This can come in handy when there is a blackout and you aren’t able to use your computer, router, and monitor.