In Case of a Nationwide Blackout

What would happen if the power failed across Europe? Last week, the Austrian government ran a three-day trial to find out – and they have some pointers for the rest of us.

Imagine a black-out that goes on for days. How long until you would run out of food? Until your phone dies? Do you own a battery-operated radio to turn on to find out what to do next?

A lot of our daily devices run on electricity, most of it through the grid. Last week, under the direction of the Ministry of the Interior, the Austrian government rehearsed what would happen if the power networks across the continent were to fail. The three-day black-out exercise, called Helios, brought together 100 representatives of the Federal Ministries, the Länder (provinces), emergency services and infrastructure systems, according to the news agency APA. Practice makes perfect.

The conclusions: “Above all, hospitals must be equipped with generators,” said Beate Hartinger-Klein (FPÖ), Minister of Health, enough to go without an external energy supply for a several days.  Pharmacies should have a two-week supply.

For ordinary residents: Be prepared. Now former Interior Minister Herbert Kickl (FPÖ) suggested that Austrians think of black-out prep as “a camping trip in their own four walls.”

The government has provided recommendations of what to do. First and foremost, families should make a plan for where to meet or how to communicate. In the event of a 14-day black out, every household should have 35 liters of water per person keep food in stock that does not require refrigeration.

What else to stock up on:

  • Battery-powered lighting: Lighters, matches, flashlights, kerosene lamps
  • Cooking options: Spirit- or gas-burning stoves
  • Crank or battery-powered radios
  • Health: First aid kids and supplies of important prescribed medications
  • Money: Always keep some cash at home.
  • Toiletries: Toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, shampoo, toilet paper, sanitary towels or tampons, washing powder, garbage bags, cleaning agents
  • Emergency power supplies like generators, if possible
  • Gas or kerosene space heaters or stoves

Julia Seidl
Julia started out at "Die Presse." She went on to study "Journalism & Media Management" in Vienna and worked for several local news outlets such as ORF, Kurier and Falter before joining Metropole as online content and social media manager.

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