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What if the Electricity Went Off – Forever?

NBC's RevolutionThe new NBC hit drama “Revolution” imagines an America 15 years after the world’s power supply goes totally and permanently off-line. There is no electricity, no telephone service, and even batteries don’t work. Naturally, society breaks down and then reforms along tribal lines with good looking teenagers hunting with bows and arrows like refugees from “The Hunger Games.”

Is such a scenario even possible?

The answer is both yes and no.

Yes, the electrical grid could collapse and go off-line for weeks, months or even years. The most likely cause for such a catastrophe would be an enemy attack using an Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) weapon. EMPs are atomic bombs designed to cause little physical damage, but throw off massive amounts of electromagnetic radiation. This type of radiation will fry any computer chips it hits. The Department of Defense has developed EMP weapons, and so have Russia, China and, according to some reports, North Korea.

Since computer chips are found in everything from mobile phones and HDTVs to automobile ignition systems — not to mention computers themselves — a high-altitude EMP blast above the central United States would more or less hurl the entire country back to the 19th century within a millisecond.

But, no, not everything would go dark. Unlike in “Revolution,” batteries would still work. So would gasoline and oil-powered generators and cars built before the mid-1970s.

So what would life be like without electrical service? Not pleasant. Here are some of the short-term and long-term effects you could expect.

Short Term

– Without electricity to power refrigerators, any food on hand would quickly spoil. Expect an immediate run on the supermarkets. But once the grocery shelves are picked clean, that’s it. With few trucks able to operate, there’d be no way to transport food from the fields to the cities.
– All the money you have in the bank? Gone. Blitzed out of existence. Along with your credit card debt, which you could argue might be a good thing.
– Your home’s heating and air conditioning systems would be useless. Also, water would cease to flow through your faucets.
– Even if emergency generators worked (which would be unlikely), hospitals would quickly run out of power. Life support, monitoring and diagnostic equipment would certainly fail immediately.
– Telephone and cell phone service would become a thing of the past. As for entertainment, we’d be back to reading books by candle light and telling stories around campfires. All of this might be good news for local theater groups.

Long Term

– If there’s any good news in this scenario, it’s that a significant portion of our nation’s military would survive. The Department of Defense is quite aware of the threat posed by EMP weapons and have “hardened” many key installations and weapons systems against them.
– Getting food and fresh water — not to mention medicine — to people living in urban areas would be very difficult. Ironically, people living in remote rural communities close to farms would probably fare much better than those living in dense cities.
– The economy, or what’s left of it, would be forced to return to a late 19th century model, one based on agriculture and steam power. Bicycles would likely become the dominant form of personal transportation. Sailboats would be extremely valuable for long-distance transport along rivers and coastlines.

Unlike on “Revolution,” the blackout would not be permanent. Since most of our computer equipment is manufactured overseas, new hardware could be brought in and essential services restored within a matter of months. Locally, mechanical engineers and electricians would be pressed to work overtime to restore what service they could using pre-1970s techniques. Complete recovery would likely take a decade, about the time it took Europe to recover from World War II.

Train To Be an Electrician at WyoTech

Countrywide blackout or not, electricians are always in demand to keep the power flowing to homes, businesses and institutions. And you may be able to join their ranks with electrician training from WyoTech, one of America’s leading vocational institutions.

This nine-month program can teach you the theory and skills necessary for entry-level apprentice positions in the residential, commercial and industrial electrician fields.

Electrician courses at the Long Beach campus include:

  • Electrical Theory
  • NEC/Safety/Hand Tools and Conduit Bending
  • Residential, Commercial and NEC Requirements
  • Transformer Principles and Test Equipment
  • Hazardous Locations and Renewable Energy
  • Power Distribution
  • Motor Concepts
  • Advanced Industrial Controls
  • Solid State Controls and Industrial Automation

Graduates of WyoTech’s Electrician program can get support from the school’s Career Services department, which provides help with resume preparation, interviewing techniques, and identifying and contacting local employees.

WyoTech’s Electrician career training program is currently offered at the school’s Fremont and Long Beach campuses.

For more information on program schedules, tuition costs and financial aid opportunities, contact WyoTech today.

Financial aid is available for those who qualify.

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