In his 2015 New York Times bestseller “Lights Out,” journalist Ted Koppel explores the terrifying vulnerability of our nation to a cyberattack that would shut down power indefinitely.
Sound vaguely familiar?
Thank goodness, the outage that knocked out power in thousands of Coeur d’Alene-area homes and businesses Monday night lasted only hours, not days or weeks or months. But for those who scrambled in the dark to do what needed to be done, those hours were reality’s kick in complacency’s shin: We are almost helpless without the modern convenience — no, the necessity — of electricity.
Imagine the added anguish if at the same time all our communications were down. Instead of being able to use your smartphone to check avistautilities.com to get updates or, in the event of an emergency, call 911, you’re stuck. And what if it’s winter and you have no alternate source for heat? What if it’s scorching outside and you have no way to cool down? What if your food rots? If your water doesn’t flow?
We interrupt this apocalyptic preview with the reminder again that Monday’s outage was a mere inconvenience and not a pervasive threat to survival. What thousands of locals experienced was the result of a substation malfunction, not a nuclear detonation at high altitude from a North Korean missile that took down the three U.S. power grids Americans depend upon for their very existence.
While not encouraging panic or even conversion to the redoubt/prepper movements, we are suggesting that you prepare for what is inevitable. Power will occasionally fail. And when it does, you should have plenty of fresh water, candles, flashlights with batteries and foodstuffs to endure the inconvenience. A battery-powered radio is also a good idea.
An interesting experiment is to compare how long you can go comfortably without electricity in your home vs. how long you can go without your smartphone. For many, the latter will be much harder than the former, which is a frightening thought indeed.
Let’s hope we don’t lose both for any extended period of time. Then it really will be lights out.