If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to live without electricity for a long time, just ask the people of Puerto Rico. Many of them lived without power for nearly a year. And according to a Harvard study, the death rate in Puerto Rico nearly doubled after Hurricane Maria do to a lack of air conditioning and medical care.
It has been estimated that if the power went out all over the United States for a full year, 90% of the population wouldn’t survive. That’s how dependent we are on the power grid, which is a scary thought considering that a cyber attack or an EMP could bring it down at any time.
In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the luxuries we take for granted. Here are seven things you’ll realize after the power grid goes down.
1. Climate Control is a Godsend
Most people don’t realize just how awful life can be without climate control such as air conditioning and heaters. These things really are wonderful inventions.
First let’s talk about air conditioning. For the better part of a century, people have relied upon electric climate control to keep their homes a comfy 73° F year-round. So what happens when the power goes out?
The shutdown of this particular luxury can be life-threatening. In the heat of the summer, temperatures inside a home with no air conditioning can easily reach 120°F-130°F. There are people each year that die in hot weather without air conditioning. Dehydration, heat stroke, and heart failure are the primary causes.
There is no good way to cool off the inside of a home without electricity, but here are some options to consider:
- Use emergency blankets to make blackout curtains.
- Put up awnings to shade all of the windows.
- Use cold water. Hang out in the tub or put a wet cloth around your neck.
- Build a solar A/C unit.
- Use battery powered or manual fans.
- Improve the insulation in your home.
- Wear loose clothing.
- Open your windows at night to get a breeze going.
- Stay on the lowest level of your home.
Related: 20 Ways To Stay Cool Without Power
Cold can be just as deadly. In some places, temperatures can dip well below 0°F in the winter. Without electric heaters, eventually the temperatures inside would be the same as the temperatures outside. You can build a fire or use a wood stove to heat your home, but any open flame becomes a safety risk of its own.
The smart thing to do is move the whole family into a small room, put blankets over the windows and doors, get in bed with lots of quilts, and use body heat to stay warm until electricity is restored. Hypothermia can be a serious threat during winter blackouts.
Here are some other ideas to stay warm:
- Improve the insulation in your home.
- Replace curtains with clear shower curtains to generate heat.
- Use body heat.
- Cook indoors.
- Cover bare floors with rugs.
2. Nighttime is Really Dark
Really, really dark. Have you ever been miles away from civilization on a cloudy night? If you’re not used to it, it can be very unnerving.
In modern society, we are accustomed to walking into a room and flipping a switch to turn on the lights. But without power, this is not going to happen. Flashlights, headlamps, and electric lanterns can be a temporary solution, but eventually, the batteries will run out. This leaves us with fire-based sources of light.
Fuel lanterns and candles can provide some light, but they leave you with a huge fire hazard. If a candle or lantern is knocked over, your home could go up in flames in just minutes. In addition, these sources of light provide much less illumination than electric lighting. You will likely have to strain to see across a room or to read a book, so functioning at night is much more difficult.
Here is a list of a few inexpensive lighting tools that can work without electricity:
- Glow sticks
- Oil lamps
- Solar lighting
- Rechargable flashlights
3. We Are Too Reliant On Appliances
Most homes have electric ranges for cooking. Not to mention microwaves, toasters, coffee makers, mixers, blenders, panini presses, and food processors to help us prepare our meals.
Most people have over a dozen different appliances that require electricity. Without power, we are reduced to cooking over a fire. This will certainly get the job done, but like our lighting issue, it creates a fire hazard.
Your best option for cooking in your home without electricity is some sort of enclosed firebox. This could be a fireplace, a wood stove, or your own personal invention. Keep in mind that fire produces carbon monoxide, especially when the fire dies down to coals and starts to smolder. Be sure you have good ventilation in your home if you are using a fire to cook.
Here are some other ways to cook without electricity:
- Solar oven
- Earth oven
- Propane grill
- Camp stove
- Tea candle oven
- Self-heating cookware
- Charcoal grill
4. Refrigerators Are Amazing
Most people store about half of their food in a refrigerator and freezer. However, without electricity, these means of preservation are not an option. We like to enjoy fresh produce, meats, and dairy, but none of this is possible long-term without electricity. A long-term loss of power requires us to completely rethink how we preserve and eat food.
More primitive methods of food preservation are needed in the absence of electricity. Vegetables and meats can be canned and stored on shelves in a root cellar. Meat, fish, and fruit can be dried and turned into jerky. Fish and ham can be salted for preservation. Meats can also be smoked for preservation.
These methods are much more time consuming but can keep your foods edible for months or even years.
Related: 7 Alternative Ways To Preserve Food
There are also some staple foods that do not need to be preserved. Here are a few examples:
- Dry Pasta
- Dry Beans
- Herbs and Spices
5. Smartphones are Magic
In the age of WiFi, smartphones, and satellite communication, it is strange to think that we could be instantly cut off from the world. Without power, most modern communication would shut down. Devices with batteries would die within a few days, and there would be no power to recharge them. Almost all interaction outside of your neighborhood would stop.
In order to imagine this scenario, you must think back to a time before these modern conveniences. To learn new information, we didn’t just go online. Instead, we went to the library to do research or we asked somebody older and more experienced than us.
To talk to people out of state, we wrote letters or sent couriers. A lucky few people had a landline phone that would work without power. However, most of our conversations were with our neighbors and family that lived within walking distance.
Here are a few ways to communicate without power:
- Hand crank emergency radio
- Rechargable HAM radio
- Cell phone with solar powered charger
- Walkie talkies with batteries
6. Having No Power is Boring
It may not seem vital, but entertainment is important if you want to stay sane during a blackout. Most modern families are entertained by Blu-ray players, satellite television, Pandora radios, and video games.
These devices help us bond and pass time, avoiding boredom altogether. While downtime is scarce in a survival scenario, there are always hours that need to be filled. Without electricity, all of these devices are useless.
For entertainment, you will need to read books or sing songs with your family. Maybe you could learn to play an instrument or learn to draw and paint. There are always games like charades and eye spy. You may become more interested in crafts like cooking or sewing. Entertainment takes on a whole new look when electricity is not available.
Here are a few other ways to pass the time:
- Work on improving your situation
- Start a garden
- Go fishing or hunting
- Weave or sew items you can use
- Start a fire
- Collect drinking water
- Cook a meal
- Set some traps
- Secure the perimeter
- Go for a swim to cool off
Related: Preventing Boredom After The SHTF
7. Modern Day People Live Like Kings
In addition to these major conveniences supplied by electricity, there are always smaller items you might not consider. Grooming items such as a hair dryer, a curling iron, a hair trimmer, or an electric razor are used by most people on a daily basis.
Things like alarm clocks or kitchen timers are considered necessities. When working in the garage, almost everybody uses power tools such as drills, jigsaws, and sanders. In the lawn, many people use electric trimmers or leaf blowers. All of these items would be shut down leaving you to use more conventional tools.
Here are some tools you should have just in case:
- Hand drill
- Hack saw
- Hand saw
- Hedge clippers
- Straight razor
- Kitchen knives
Modern society has become completely reliant upon electricity. If you really stop to imagine life without it, you will quickly see that it would be completely different. However, it was not that long ago that people got by just fine without power. In order to survive a blackout, you must think back to what our forefathers did before power was common.
If you want to be truly prepared for a scenario such as this, try to limit your reliance upon electricity. Pick certain days or times to shut down all or most of the power in your home. Cook over a fire and break out the lanterns. Read a book or maybe write some letters. All these thigns will help you survive when the power goes out.