How to Survive Without Electricity (Complete Guide)

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In this article, you will learn how to survive without electricity.

Almost everything in today’s world is done with electricity. We use it without thinking since it has become such a continuous and vital part of our life.

There are several extreme weather events that could knock off power for a short period of time, including severe thunderstorms, hurricanes, deep winter snow, and ice storms.

Whether it’s a full-fledged EMP, solar flare, a natural disaster, or a simple blackout that lasts for days, you’ll have to live without electricity sooner or later, so you might as well learn how to survive without it! The off-grid lifestyle is defined as living without access to electricity.

Let’s dig in.

Water

The majority of city-provided water, as well as the majority of water wells, rely on energy to pump water. You can access this with a sillcock key, which you can learn more about in our article about Sillcock Keys and Everything You Need to Know.

You’ll need to discover a nearby supply of fresh water, devise a plan to retrieve water from your well using a hand pump, stockpile large amounts of water, or relocate closer to a fresh water source.

If you live in the country, you might have a spring or a well on your property or in your neighborhood that can be used as an emergency water source. Another good resource you may want to read is how to dig a well yourself.

If these two are not an option, than rainwater harvesting is an option, with proper filtration methods such as boiling and a 2 tablespoon of bleach per quart of water as recommended by the DHHS or a Lifestraw filter

Setting up a rainwater harvesting system on your property is one way to prepare for having an ample supply of water if you are living without electricity.

Always double-check that whatever system you build complies with your state’s water rights laws and regulations. Although most states permit rainwater harvesting for personal use and consumption, some states impose restrictions and other conditions that must be met if you want to avoid going to court.

Food

Firstly, if your power does go out, fire up the grill! You can barbeque or boil water for all the freeze dried items you have in your prepper’s pantry if you have wood and charcoal. There are many cooking stoves that only require propane, charcoal, and wood.

I would also highly recommend you make a garden, even if it’s just a few vegetables in 5-gallon buckets. But, if you have the space, definetely start a garden with this article on Gardening For Preppers (The Mega Guide). Also learn survival foods you that last a really long time.

Toilet

If you intend to live off the grid, having a toilet system should be a top priority. Good hygiene and sanitation are often overlooked aspects of learning how to live without electricity.

A bucket system is one of your options. Simply place a garbage bag inside the bucket to accomplish this. Put kitty litter or peat moss inside the bag before someone leaves. After he or she is finished, sprinkle a few more on top.

A compostable toilet is also an excellent option for serious homesteaders. This enables the individual to evaporate the water from human waste. The process produces only compostable and odorless solid waste, which can be used in gardening.

If you have a traditional toilet, you can simply flush it with gray water from washed dishes or baths.

Food Storage

One of the most serious issues that arises when there is no power is, of course, food preservation. How do you prevent the spoilage of meat and other perishables?

Refrigerators that run on propane or kerosene are available. Portable battery-powered refrigerators are also available on the market. They can be charged using either your car battery or a solar power system.

If you live in the country, you can try your hand at gardening to grow the fruits and vegetables you need and store them in a root cellar.

You can also use pressure canning and/or water bath canning to extend the life of food without requiring refrigeration.

You can make your own ice using a bucket or large bowl with a smaller metal bowl inside filled with water, or you can use a propane refrigerator.

Ammonium nitrate should be used to fill the space between the two containers. The resulting heat conduction process will turn the water into ice.

Take it a step further by raising livestock like cows, chickens, and goats for eggs, meat, and dairy. To further reduce refrigeration needs, you can dehydrate, smoke, or ferment foods.

Generators

Running a generator incorrectly can kill you in as little as 5 minutes if the carbon monoxide concentration is high enough. According to Consumer Product Safety Commission data, an average of 60 to 70 people die each year from generator-related carbon monoxide poisoning.

Operate a generator as far from the house as possible. If you don’t have a transfer switch, you can connect individual appliances to the generator’s outlets using an outdoor-rated extension cord of the appropriate gauge, as long as the cords are properly rated and certain precautions are taken. The gauge of extension cord required by your generator will be specified in the user manual.

Read our review of the Westinghouse Generator here.

Food Dehydration

Another possibility is dehydration. Food dehydration is an ancient method of food preservation that originally relied on the sun. While many dehydrators today are powered by electricity, there are solar-powered alternatives for your power-free homestead.

Foods that have been dehydrated retain their nutritional value. Examples of common types include:

  • Apple and berry fruit leathers
  • Corn, peas, broccoli, and carrots are examples of vegetables.
  • Dehydrated onion, mushrooms, and carrot soup mixes

It takes some practice to dehydrate foods properly, but the effort is well worth it.

Light Sources

A solar powered lantern is compact, and it’s portable, which means you can keep it in your car, your camper, or even in your house for an emergency. It’s the best emergency light during crises. This type of lantern is full of solar panels that are charged by exposure to sunlight. This happens every day when you go outside, so it could also be charged while you’re inside your home. 

If you want to go the old-school route, you can use kerosene lamps. These are very cheap and incredibly durable. They are often used for camping or during emergencies. You’ll have to fill them with kerosene before using them, but once they’re filled, you have a very powerful light source that is super cheap to operate. 

Alternative Energy Sources

Electricity supplied by public grids is not the only way to power your home. You can invest in renewable energy sources such as solar, wind turbines, and hydroelectric sources. A common example is the use of a solar power system or even a bicycle generator.

You can either order one or install one yourself. The advantage of a bicycle generator is that it not only provides power, but it is also a great way to exercise. Another example is the use of alternative fuels like propane, biodiesel, biomass, and ethanol.

Bathing

Nothing beats a hot shower, so the thought of washing yourself in a nearby cold stream does not appeal. The sun, on the other hand, can be used to heat water for a bath or shower. 

Sun showers are essentially a storage tank housed inside an insulated box facing the sun. The sun heats the water in the tank. Use the heated water from the insulated box to bathe when you’re ready.

Alternatively, but less optimally, sponge baths or camping showers can be used. A camping shower is simply filling an elevated container with water and allowing gravity to shower you with it.

Medical Supplies

At the very least, every prepper should consider taking all of the American Red Cross courses. This includes CPR classes, basic first aid classes, advanced first aid classes, and so on. These are critical lessons for survivalists to learn, not just in the event of a grid-down disaster, but in any scenario that could result in a medical emergency.

Enroll yourself and encourage family members to join the local volunteer fire department or rescue/EMT service. This will allow you to receive incredible training that will be invaluable during a SHTF event.

The main point here is that your health is important during a crisis, and you will not only need to get all of the medicine you need, but you will also need to be in good shape. Living properly and developing a vigorous lifestyle should be done now, before the time comes when you will be tested.

Whatever you do to get your life back on track, keep in mind that being in good physical condition is critical during an emergency. We have evolved into a soft society that is accustomed to spending more and working less. Rather than always paying for assistance, try to do things yourself, even if it means putting on a lot of sweat.

Temperature Regulation

Heating

You can utilize a fireplace to warm up the room on those cold winter nights. Although not as energy efficient as other ways, placing the fireplace in the center of the house and installing vents to allow the heat to circulate throughout the various areas of the house is a decent plan.

A built-in floor vent near the exterior walls of each room can be used to return cool air to the fireplace.

Your rooms will stay warm and comfy as a result of the convection process. You can also install extra insulation to your walls to keep as much heat as possible from escaping.

Cooling

Generally cooling shouldn’t be a large concern, because your shelter should protect you from most weather, but the options are generally limited. If you had the goodwill to not get struck by an EMP, solar flare, or anything of that nature, which is unlikely, then solar fan is your go-to.

Of course, you should also pull down your blinds, wear light clothes, cooking outdoors, leaving windows open, and damping curtains to keep your home as cool as possible.

Clothing

Clothing is your first line of defense against the cold. Dress warmly before becoming chilled as it is much easier to stay warm than it is to get warm.

Layers of loose lightweight clothing allow you to adjust to changing temperatures. Tight-fitting clothing can restrict your circulation and put you at greater risk for hypothermia and frostbite. Heavy coats and clothing may induce sweating which will wick the heat away from your body (refer to the section on the 5 ways you lose heat later in this post).

Keep your core warm and your entire body will stay warmer. We define the core as your head, torso, and halfway down your thighs. When the body gets cold, natural defenses kick in constricting blood vessels in the skin to keep blood flowing to the vital organs.

Hand Warmers

Stockpile oxygen activated hand warmers to help regulate body temperature in addition to being prepared to dress in layers during cold weather.

Hand warmers can be worn in boots to keep your feet warm and dry, in mittens or gloves to keep your hands warm and toasty, and even in your sleeping bag at night.

Hand warmers can be placed in the groin and armpits of someone suffering from hypothermia to help raise body temperature.

The great thing about hand warmers is that they are relatively inexpensive and can be used for a variety of purposes. They can be used to relieve muscle pain, warm baby bottles, or keep hot beverages warm for longer periods of time.

Hand warmers can also be used to melt snow for drinking, warm batteries so they don’t drain as quickly in cold weather, and remove moisture from electronics.

Hand warmers typically last 5-7 hours and are designed to be a one-time use item. If you don’t require the warmth for the full 5-7 hours, you can re-use the hand warmer by sealing it tightly in a zip lock bag.

Create a Designated Room For Warmth

Choose the smallest room in your home to function as your “warm” room during a power outage. Keep Mylar emergency blankets on hand and staple or tape these to the walls of your warm room, caulk and insulate any windows, and be ready to hang a heavy blanket over the door as added insulation.

If you can’t isolate one entire room in a survival situation, pitch a tent in the most insulated room or outdoors with a small fire just outside the opening of the tent. The idea is to hold the heat in as close to your body as possible.

Communication

citizen band radio with microphone and frequencies

You may still be able to use landlines without electricity if the phone lines, which use a different technology, are unaffected. It may still function if mobile towers aren’t down and you have a solar-powered phone charger.

You could utilize a Citizens Band radio for short-range communication. These usually come in pairs, are inexpensive, and require six to eight AA batteries. They’re useful for short distances when traveling or while separated from family or friends, but not for lengthy lengths.

Entertainment

Your television, stereo, and other entertainment equipment are among the items you may find difficult to live without. Learn to play an instrument, learn to carve wood, play cards, play a board game, and read a little more.

Consider what talents you could learn that interest you and would be amusing as well as useful in a survival situation or if the power goes out.

In Conclusion

After reading all of this, living without power may no longer seem so frightening. Indeed, the prospect of life without power may now be alluring.

Living without electricity can range from primitive to luxury, depending on your resources and the effort you want to put in.

It would harken back to a simpler, less busy, and less convoluted period. So, whether you choose to live without standard electricity on purpose or are forced to do so after the SHTF, it’s a good idea to plan ahead and anticipate any problems so you don’t get caught off guard. Keep prepping!

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