Imagine your power goes out indefinitely for a week. Maybe longer, with no end in sight. Now, imagine that happening to virtually everyone living in your country. While this may have been a mere nightmare in the past, this was the recent reality in Venezuela.
Venezuela lost power around 5 p.m. on Thursday, March 7, 2019. The blackout affected over 70% of the country. (Update: a second blackout hit the country on March 25, 2019 and lasted at least 5 days for many.) Even large cities, such as the capital of Caracas, were thrown into an eerie darkness. As of Thursday, March 12, there had been at least 20 deaths, rampant looting, and a complete loss of access to food, water, fuel, and cash for the majority of Venezuela’s 31 million residents.
The situation is just another event in an ongoing crisis within the country. With political instability and inflation currently more than one million percent, Venezuela is one of the world’s most economically devastated countries. As a result, it has been experiencing a full-on humanitarian crisis. Food and medicine were already extremely expensive for most people--and the blackout is only making everything worse.
Resulting from what experts attribute to mismanagement, corruption, and poor maintenance, the power outage stems from issues within the country's primary hydroelectric power plant. According to the Guardian, “A fault, possibly caused by a fire, took out a network of three 765kV cables that supplies 80% of Venezuela’s electricity, including to Caracas.”
Millions of Venezuelans have fled the country over the past few years, going to places such as Colombia and Peru. As one unnamed source with family in Venezuela shared, this is done in order to have “Not just a better future, but to simply have a future.”
In terms of the power outage, another unnamed source residing in Venezuela shared, “There are times when life turns out to be stranger, crueler more unbelievable than fiction. What do you mean plan B? There was no backup. We had one source, and one source only. So here we are in what feels like a bad joke. A groundhog day remake. A bug in the game.”
It may be hard for us to imagine a reality in which the United States would lose power on a countrywide scale. But the truth of the matter is that many Venezuelans never thought things would get this bad. It’s now a nation of an unstable power grid leading to rolling blackouts or total power loss.
Understanding what could be at stake will help you and your family prepare for the unknown--whether it be a blackout or an economic downturn. Read on to discover more specifics about which resources were compromised in Venezuela. While you read, take note on what you can do to protect yourself and your family.
Food - You Are Only 4 Missed Meals from Chaos
With the lack of power, much of the country’s supply of fresh food is rotting and going bad. Images that came out of Venezuela depicted throngs of people crowding grocery stores, buying or looting what they can while both fresh and nonperishable food is still available. Supply chains were broken.
As one of our sources shared via social media, “I was fortunate enough to enjoy another electric surge window today at lunchtime, just long enough for me to poach a cooked egg and eat some things that were about to go bad.” She decided to use vinegar to pickle everything “for good measure.” This meal aside, she has been subsisting on a diet mostly “composed of Cheetos and bananas.” According to her, “These are luxuries in comparison to what others are going through in the midst of the national electric breakdown.”
There are a wide variety of circumstances in the United States that can restrict our access to food for days or even weeks at a time. For safety, I recommend you...
- Stock up on an emergency supply of nonperishable foods.
- Develop your own home garden to grow your own supply of fresh foods.
- Pickle and can your produce to preserve food longer.
Water - You Are in Trouble without It for 3 Days
When the power goes out, inevitably clean drinking water also goes into short supply. Water pumps in many Caracas neighborhoods were affected, forcing people to fill water bottles at local springs, or worse. For example, many residents resorted to drinking water from the heavily polluted river in the capital or black water from their tap.
Humans can only survive for three days to one week without water. It’s important to stockpile purified water at home, whether it be that you’ve lost power due to a natural or manmade disaster. You can also purchase water purification solutions, such as germicidal tablets or something more intensive such as the gravity-powered Alexapure Pro Water Filtration System.
Transportation - Gas Lines
Driving a car in Venezuela had become increasingly difficult, with long lines at the few gas stations that were still operational. Some gas stations had been fortunate enough to have their own electric generators, but most weren’t so lucky. Even if cars have fuel, navigating cities became more risky, with failed traffic lights on every street.
Public transportation didn't fared well either. No electricity means no subway, and a lack of fuel supply also limited city buses. People had to walk to work, or simply not go.
In case your means of transportation or access to public transportation disappears, it’s always good to have a bike as a backup. That said, take caution. The outage in Venezuela had understandably sparked disorder, with looters and roaming gangs increasingly common on the streets.
Communication - How Do You Charge a Cell Phone?
As of Monday, March 11, only 12% of Venezuela’s internet network was connected, and cell service had also been disrupted. As the Guardian reported, “With communications down, people stood on the roofs of their cars, desperately hoping to pick up a signal.”
In these circumstances, solar-powered chargers and devices can come in handy. For example, a solar-powered 4-in-1 radio will enable you to stay up-to-date on important updates and announcements. Many Venezuelans had no clue when to expect the power to be up and running, primarily because they had no way to check the news media online or via TV.
Medical Care - Accidents Happen
One of the most heart-wrenching effects of the crisis in Venezuela was the loss of power to hospitals and medical facilities. As our source in Venezuela shared, “Dozens of people have died in hospitals due to the power outage. Without backup generators, how do you power respiratory aids, dialysis treatments, incubators? Babies are being born in the dark. Some have died, others are hanging on.”
Though the state-run electricity company Corpolec had brought a few generators to children’s hospitals, there simply weren’t enough to meet demand. Reporters had found doctors were performing surgery using flashlights, and nurses used candles to monitor the vital signs of their premature babies after backup generators shut off.
Of course, a situation this dire is unlikely to strike the U.S. on the same scale. However, accidents do happen, and sometimes immediate medical supplies and access aren’t available. In these circumstances, it helps to have a first aid kit, as well as basic first aid knowledge.
Money - Are You Ready to Barter?
For better or for worse, our modern day banking systems are extremely dependent on electricity. As one Venezuelan citizen shared with the Guardian, “We couldn't even buy food because the ATMs weren’t working.”
Keep a supply of emergency cash hidden somewhere at home, in the case that you can’t access it during a disaster. You don’t want to be stuck in a situation where you can’t buy a necessary item, simply because you can’t access money in the bank. You should also take the time to study barter methods and have a few valuable items at home that could be used in a trade situation. Silver. Food. Coffee. Alcohol. Protection.
In Venezuela, though electricity has returned to most parts of the state, the process is slow moving. According to WIRED, “Reenergizing a dead grid, a process known as a black start, is challenging any under circumstances. And the already arduous process of restoring power seems hobbled by years of system neglect.”
Again, we watched a real-world event here play out before our eyes. We need to learn from and understand what happened and prepare ourselves. A dystopian situation like this one sounds unlikely here in our homeland of the United States. But so was Pearl Harbor, 9/11, Katrina, the Boston Massacre city lockdown, and so much more. We aren’t 100% safe from other potentially damaging and unexpected situations. And you don’t want to miss out on preemptive preparation because you were in denial.
For example, BBC journalist Vladimir Hernandez had family living in Venezuela. He shared, “They never thought it would come to this. This is like the Walking Dead, this is like living in the Apocalypse.”
Here at My Patriot Supply, our mission is to help Americans achieve independence through preparedness and self-reliance. We believe that true patriotism is not the expectation that others will care for your needs but that freedom comes from attaining a certain level of self-reliance.
It’s better to be over-prepared than underprepared because the truth is--you never know what could happen. Our preparedness advisors are available to chat online or with a call to 866.229.0927.
Stay alert, friends. Learn from what's going on in the world.
Read Part 2 of our Survival Scout series on the Venezuela Power Outage here, a first-hand account observing the events unfolding.
Preparedness Advisor, My Patriot Supply