How to Live Without Electricity During a Power Outage

It’s safe to say that most people would be completely lost if they had no electricity. Modern technology has spoiled us, and quite frankly, it feels good. Who doesn’t like the luxury of turning on a light switch and, voila? Unlike those who came before us, we don’t have to worry about cooking over a wood fire or carrying a lantern when it’s dark to get light. With that said, electricity is faulty and it fails us sometimes. We need to be prepared if there comes a time when we can’t use it.

I turned off our electricity for 48 hours this week as one of my challenges for National Preparedness Month.  And once again, just like with my Living Without Running Water experiment, I learned a lot!

Learn How to Cope without Electricity

If you joined me in the challenge or have experiences of your own, I’d love to hear about them! By the way, I’m by no means an expert in this area. In fact, this is the first time in my adult life that I have lived without electricity for an extended period of time. So, while I believe that my experience will be helpful to those with a similar background, I’m also sure there are many of you with more experience, thoughts, and ideas.  

Modern Conveniences Helps Us During a Power Outage

Living without electricity and water was stressful for me! I was more on edge and grumpy than my kids. I was still trying to do everything that I usually do, but it was taking me more time. All the typical “life” stuff like dinner, blogging, and cleaning took longer, and it wore me out!  So, again, I am grateful for my modern conveniences!

But I want to be prepared for the burden that a real disaster or power shortage could bring. Stress is real, and it can affect family life dramatically. I want to be able to stay as calm and content as possible in such a situation. My kids will need me to! I believe that the more prepared I am, the less stressful things will feel, and I’ll be more relaxed. Honestly, my motivation to be more prepared increased during the challenge.

12 Tips and Tricks to Cope with Power Outages

Tip #1 when Living Without Electricity: The Food from the Fridge/Freezer

I shut off all of the breakers in our house except those to our fridge and the freezer in our garage. I did not want to risk losing any food for the sake of an experiment. However, if I were to encounter a real power outage, I do have a plan:

I would move three days’ worth of food to a cooler that we have that’s fantastic. We take it camping, and it keeps our food frozen and cold for up to five days. I would also include two 1/2 gallon containers of frozen water (I have these in the freezer in our garage). The cooler would stay in our cold storage in our basement and only open if needed.

Also, I would move the rest of the food from my indoor fridge and freezer to the large freezer in my garage. After three days, I would open the freezer again and move only what I needed for the next three days to the cooler. I would continue this until either the food was bad or the power was back on.

As a rule of thumb, you should pack the food, so it all stays cold or frozen for as long as possible.

Tip #2 when Living Without Electricity: Find Alternatives to Electronics for Kids!

When I told my children that we had no water a few weeks ago, they panicked about not being able to bathe, brush their teeth, or have a drink of it. When I told them this week that our electricity had gone out, their first question was, “Well, so that means…(big pause)….we just have to…(another big pause)…play?”

Yes, kiddos! No TV. I’m not re-charging the iPad and there’s no CD player for dancing. You will need to just play!

I think I do reasonably well with limiting my kid’s electronic time. But of course, I have my days where I use it as a babysitter. However,  for the most part, it is restricted, both in time and in content. They are only allowed to watch or play educational shows and games the majority of the time. Furthermore, their use of electronics is tied directly to their responsibilities and chores. They earn fake money for their house duties and can use those funds to buy media time. They have kids playtime every day, as well as mommy playtime and quiet room time.

I will say, their commentary about not having electricity was an eye-opener!  They found it overwhelming to have to“just play” all day long. I will be working a bit harder on fixing that! I want to raise creative children who enjoy spending time together by using their imaginations. All in all, they were fine and had a fun two days. However, when it came down to it, I was actually more stressed than they were; which brings me to my 2nd point.

My Kids Loved Having Their Own Flashlights

These were crazy inexpensive, and I almost didn’t buy them— but I’m glad I did.  My kids loved having their own flashlights around their necks. It’s quite silly, but it’s something I discovered!

Tip #3 when Living Without Electricity: More battery clocks!

This is kind of funny, but all of our clocks are electronic — the timer on the microwave, the range, the alarm clocks, everything. I found myself constantly wondering what time it was!

I should store batteries and flashlights together

I keep all of our power outage supplies in a hall closet upstairs. But I don’t keep batteries in our flashlights because that drains the batteries. I only add them when we need to use the flashlight, and I store the batteries downstairs! That would be a problem if the power went out after dark and I had to make my downstairs to get them. So, I moved the batteries into the closet upstairs with the flashlights. I also put one with batteries in it in my top dresser drawer. That way, I can quickly jump out of bed and have light if I needed it.

Tip #4 when Living Without Electricity: Manuals Are a Good Thing to Have

I discovered that even though I read the instructions for all of my various power outage supplies, I couldn’t remember how to use them properly. I was glad that I kept all the manuals.  I have them in a plastic Ziploc right near the rest of the supplies (behind the lantern in the picture above). I used them to learn how to power our solar lantern, use our small generator for my computer and internet router, and our goal of zero supplies.

One resource I would definitely suggest having is the manual to your garage door. You might have a battery backup that would allow you to open it during a power outage. However, if the outage lasts for a long time or you don’t have a secondary battery on your door, you will need to know how to disconnect the door from the powered carriage. Otherwise, you won’t be able to get your car out! Your manual will have instructions on how to do it.

Tip #5 when Living Without Electricity: Test Products Beforehand!

I have two Goal Zero Light a Life lights that are extremely high-powered lights that I planned to use instead of candles during a power outage. Goal Zero products are solar-powered and SUPER bright. I can charge them during the day and use them at night indefinitely. Unfortunately, I opened them and removed them from the box after the power went out, only to realize that they didn’t include the necessary battery to power them, so I had no way to use them. I had assumed the batteries came with the lights, but they didn’t, which made them useless! Needless to say, I will be buying the battery soon!

I’m Glad We Have Satellite Internet.

We were able to use our small generator to power the router and computer which allowed us to have internet access and still run my business. Even during a widespread power outage, it is unlikely that the power would be out nationwide or worldwide. I have people who follow this blog and purchase from me from all over the United States, including Hawaii and Alaska, as well as Canada. The work I do brings in a significant portion of our income, and if the electricity were out for more than a day or two, I would have to find a way to continue to work.

Furthermore, having internet access would allow us to communicate with worried family and friends.

Tip #6 when Coping with a Power Outage: A solar generator would be great!

The small generator we have now is battery-powered.  I’d have no way to charge it during a power outage.  Once it ran out of “juice,” that would be it.  No more computer/internet.

So, I’d like to get a solar generator.  Of course, I’d love a really expensive one that could actually power my appliances, but for now, I’d settle on this one:  Goal Zero Escape 150 Adventure Kit.  It comes with a 150 (a rechargeable battery), the light I love as well as a solar panel to re-charge the battery.  I will likely get two eventually so we could use one while the other was charging. It would power my computer, our router, our phones, a small CD player, etc.

Tip #7 when Living Without Electricity: Print Things!

Are there things you regularly use that are on your computer that you don’t have printed?  For example, I needed my recipes, and I didn’t want to turn on my computer and waste power on something I could have had in a printed form.

Tip #8 when Living Without Electricity: More Solar Powered Batteries!

We have a few AA-sized batteries and the Goal Zero pack to charge them, but I’d like to get something that can charge large D-sized batteries for our flashlights.

Tip #9 when Living Without Electricity: If the Power Were to Really Go Out, I’d Bathe Right Away.

We have two water heaters and had hot water for the entire first day and even into the 2nd.  Eventually, we ran out as the water in the heaters cooled.

I prefer warm showers, so if the power were out and we still had running water, I’d shower immediately so I’d lower my chances of having to take a cold shower.

Tip #10 when Coping with a Power Outage: The Dispose Won’t Work in a Power Outage.

Duh, right? Well, that was something I didn’t think about and I dumped food scraps into disposal out of habit. The sink was full of water because it couldn’t drain, and fishing the food out was gross! Next time, I will remember that and we will put food scraps in the trash instead.

Tip #11 when Coping with a Power Outage: Practice Powerless Cooking Skills

Seriously, why is the Sun Oven so tough for me? Once, I got it up to 400 degrees within 30 minutes, but when I put the food in, it started to fog up the window. Sadly, the temperature dropped to 225 degrees within just a few minutes, and it never increased. I think part of the issue was the pan I used. Nonetheless, we ate our dinner, and it was fine; it just took a lot longer to cook.  But darn it, that happens to me every time!

I also cooked some instant brown rice on our camp stove, and it turned out great! Plus, I did an experiment. I wanted to see if I could hydrate the instant brown rice without heat. It totally worked! I added 1 1/2 cups of water to 2 cups of rice and stirred it occasionally for about 90 minutes. It hydrated fine, but it was cold. But at least I know I could use it without any heat if I needed to!

I also remembered that I bought a Volcano stove about a year ago, and I’ve never used it.  I forgot about it and didn’t plan to use it during this outage. However, I’ve heard incredible things, so I need to practice with it some more.

But I am good at Dutch Oven cooking!  My Dad taught me that growing up and it is something I’ve always loved. We had delicious chicken & black bean tacos as well as some cobbler! I was going to post the recipes here, but I think I’ll save it for another time.

I need some powerless appliances

I needed a food processor for our dutch oven dinner, and I have to admit I cheated.  I didn’t realize beforehand that some of the ingredients would need to be blended. So, I flipped the breaker on and used my electric food processor. But, I’d love to get some powerless appliances like a food processor or blender,  and I already have a Hand Grain Mill.

We Need A Game Plan For Our Powerless Cooking

I would like to create a list of at least one month’s worth of meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner so that I could make shelf-sustainable ingredients without power as well. I plan to start working on this and will share what I come up with.

Tip #12 when Coping with a Power Outage: More Fuel!

As part of the game plan that I mentioned above, I will be pinpointing exactly how much fuel we should store. We have the Volcano Stove, a propane gas grill, dutch ovens, a camp stove, the Sun Oven, and will soon have a fire pit. Here’s what we will store:

  • Charcoal (Volcano stove, Dutch Ovens)
  • Propane (Volcano stove, gas grill, camp stove)
  • Firewood (Volcano stove, fire pit)
  • Quickfire Pucks (Volcano stove, fire pit, and the Quickfire stove if I decide to get one)

Common Causes Of Power Outages

We’re so accustomed to flicking on the switch when walking into a room and grabbing the remote to watch television. However, there are several causes of power outages that you should be aware of. Unfortunately, every occurrence doesn’t happen as a result of a major storm. Here are a few:

  1. Trees

When the wind is high or someone is trimming branches, limbs can hit the power lines. If this happens, your power can out for a few minutes or a few hours.

  1. Vehicle Accidents

If a car hits a utility pole, there’s a good chance that your power will go out.

  1. Lightning

Lightning can get pretty severe during a storm. When a bolt hits wires, poles, and transmission powers an outage might occur.

  1. Animals

I know you’ve seen birds and squirrels hanging out on the power lines before. Unfortunately, when small animals come into contact with electrical equipment, it can cause a short circuit.

  1. Storms

Storms are the most common cause of power outages. Wind, ice, snow, and heat can all contribute to your electricity going out.

  1. High Power Demand

When cables become overloaded with the power it can cause the system to fail. Power sources such as transformers, transmission towers, and other electrical equipment can melt when under the pressure of heatwaves and high power demand.

Final Thoughts

I know the thought of not having electricity isn’t comfortable, but this website is all about preparedness, right? You don’t want to get stuck in a situation, and you’re clueless about what to do. Hopefully, the information I provided will help you stay ahead of things, and equip your family for emergency situations. The good news is, that life doesn’t have to fall apart when there’s no electricity. With that said, I’d love to hear from all of you! 

Did you take my challenge as part of National Preparedness Month?  Or have you ever lived without electricity for a period of time?  What did you learn?  Do you have additional tips for my readers and me?

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One everyday mom's experience living without electricity for a few days.
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Becky is a wildlife enthusiast and pet and livestock care expert with a diploma in canine nutrition. With over a decade of experience in animal welfare, Becky lends her expertise to Simple Family Preparedness through insightful info about pets, livestock, bee keeping, and the practicalities of homesteading.

39 thoughts on “How to Live Without Electricity During a Power Outage”

  1. I am a 53 year old gal,,,who was raised up my entire life pretty much,,,with out electricity,,,running water,,or any thing moderen ,,,,,my father passed when i was only 4 years old,,,,mom raised me on her own,,in the back woods of calfornia on hwy 49 north,,,,,we used caraseen lanterens for light,,,propane for heat,,,wood cookstove for both heat and cooking,,,,had two out houses one on the hill above the house and one behind the house,,, uncle frank hauled water in 50 gallon drums from the north fork river 15 mile down the canyon rd…we had a water hose attached to them running to aunt loises old wringer washer along side the out houe out back,,,close were hung on the huge purple grape vines,,,in the summer we drove down to the north fork to bath and thhe winter we heated water on the old wood cook stove and bathed in the kitchen in the old galvanized tub,,,,we lived off the land gathering ,,eating and canning all the wild fruit and veggies and lived on lots of greens,,,dandalion greens,,beet greens,,colaragreens mustard greens,,,wild persimmons,,,wild chestnuts we gathered,,,wild berries of all kinds,,,wild apples,peaches,pears,,,,,,,,Rattelsnake,,possum,,raccoons,,bear,,,deer,,,rabbit,,,etc,,,….I never knew what a tv was or an inside privy was till i turned 13 and got married into my logging truck company,,,,worked in the family lumber from age 6 to 13,,,,,,,,,,,I would go back to those days in a heart beat,,,and sorta am acually the 29th of this december for i am being evicted for not having a job no longer to pay the 700.00 a month rent so will be moving into an old run down motor home with no water or heat or electricity and the roof leaks really bad all over,,,so look as though i will be resorting back to my child hood life in order to servive this nasty snowy winter,,,with 28 kittys and a turtle on board again,,,,have lost every thing thi month including this here ol internet next week,,,,

  2. I got a real feel for how easy electricity has made our modern life while exercising on an exercise bike I made out of an electric generator and an old bicycle. I generate 120 watts for 15 minutes and get just as winded as in a two mile jog. I imagined having to do a two mile jog every time I ran a 120 watt appliance for 15 min or a 60 watt appliance for 30 minutes. That is how easy electricity has made our lives. The energy comes from oil, coal, gas, or nuclear sources but electricity lets us use that energy in so many ways.

      • I did a little more arithmetic after looking at my monthly electric bill (325 kW-hr average) and figured out that it would take 21,000 miles of jogging to generate the same amount of energy that I consume in a month. That’s almost one lap around the earth at the equator (24,900 miles).

  3. I know you said this was a test run, but I don’t think I would take a warm bath. I would be saving the water for other things.
    I have manual tools for my kitchen, manual blender and such, just so I can fix my meals. I don’t know if you have checked out Solutions for Science web site, but they have a lot of good products for solar.
    I have the 1800 solar generator with 2 100 w solar panels.that stays outside, It comes with a long connect cord and you can charge the unit inside the house and it works great. They recommend to plug your fridge in for 2 hours and then unplug and keep doing that,that’s all you need to keep the fridge cold. I also got another battery and hooked to it. Talking about the fridge, they make one that hooks to this solar charger and runs from it. Not really that much $$.
    Good story. I have done the test for myself too and you find so much stuff out by doing them.
    I enjoy all your posts!

    • I should go update the post Teresa. I now have many of the things I mentioned wanting….a hand blender, a HERC oven (yay!), 3 solar generators etc. But I will got check out Solutions for Science! THank you!

  4. Why are you putting food scraps down the drain or in the trash? That’s a burden on the environment, plus you can put them to use for your benefit by composting them.

    I know, I know, sometimes you just can’t do all the things you “should” do so you have to let some things to till later. I hear that, so it’s okay if you’re just not ready yet. But composting doesn’t have to be as complicated as some systems make it. Just dig a good hole in your garden and bury your scraps. Rotate the spot each week. It’s called Trench Composting and it works well in most situations. Brings good worms to your gardens too.

    We’ve done several different types of composting and this is the easiest for us by far. Do some research and give it a small test to see if it’s workable for your situation.

    • I used to compost, when we lived in California. Since we’ve gotten settled in our new home here I haven’t yet figured out a good system. I will check out Trench composing!

    • What a life-saver idea!!!! Hope my ground isn’t too frozen….but will start doing this digging and adding my scraps ASAP! thanks for you super idea!!!

  5. I think what I’ve found amazing about this blog and the comments on it, is that people have forgotten history? or maybe just didn’t care to learn? Electricity and piped in water are just a little more than 100 years old. Thousands of years of civilization (many very complex) survived without either of those things. And the surprise people have at the idea of living without these things and that it causes stress at all is puzzling to me. But I love that people are learning how to adapt and teaching others. Good luck with your endeavors to learn these skills.

  6. I’ve always admired my grandmother who knew just what to do when the power went out, which it did a lot more often when I was a kid. Now it hardly ever goes out, so there are never any “practice drills” for the population at large. It’s a good thing in a way, since so many people are dependent on power for medical reasons, but it’s also bad in a way for the rest of us because we aren’t ready at all for outages. This is such a great experiment, but I think my husband would veto any attempts at a similar experiment around our house!! I have given it a lot of thought, though, since I live in a hurricane prone area. One of the major things I do before a hurricane hits is wash all of our clothes!!! Can’t use the washing machine if the power is out, and I’d hate to have to schlep all of our dirty clothes to the laundromat, (power frequently goes out and then back on sporadically after hurricanes, so you can find businesses with it on somewhere) so if everything is clean before hand then hopefully power will be back on before we run out!! I bought a washing plunger thingy and mop bucket with a wringer, which would enable me to hand wash a few things at a time, but I haven’t had to use it yet. (And hopefully never will!!!) ;)

  7. Get a inverter and hook it up to your car battery in a emergency most refrigerators will run on less than 600 watts. Run your car 20minutes after removing the inverter so you can start your car

  8. I just read your article on going with out electric power. You said you were going to buy two escape 150. I have one they claim to power computers. That may not be true. It depends on the watts of your computer charger uses. I found out they wont charge my daughters computer or mine. They require more watts than the escape 150 will putout. You would be better off getting a yeti 400. Better yet get a deep cycle and a pure sinwave inverter and save a lot more money. Most people aren’t aware these batterys need to run once a month or they setup, not work

  9. Well hello everyone I have tried being off grid an if you don’t ween ur self off the electric products then it makes it all so more the difficult . I am using a wood/coal stove for heating and cooking in the cold seasons. If I need to I can cook outside on a homemade firepit/barbecue.i replaced the dryer with outside clothes line.i replaced the washer with a homemade plastic barrel with a handle to turn it . The hot water builds up pressure and cleans the clothes pretty good. If I need any other power I used homemade solar panels with cells I bought off eBay. The freezer is unplugged since we can our excess. And if we need something it’s either canned
    , dehydrated and stored Orestes fresh I have a link that all can get these how to files and they are all free all we ask is visit the advertisers. The link:

  10. What is the name of the fantastic cooler and where did you get and how much did you pay?
    Writers always seem to forget that readers will want to check them out whatever was mentioned.

  11. It is so great that you’re doing this and sharing your results with us. I haven’t been able to subject myself to such a test for just adults, much less with children, but you might inspire me to try a test run. You especially made me think about all the emergency preparation items we have which we’ve never used, as they’re just for emergencies. One thing I have…but have never tested…is a portable hot water heater that uses the same #20 propane tanks as my gas grill. They can be found on or camping web sites and really aren’t that expensive and don’t take up much storage space. I’m hoping that that will give us enough hot water for dishes and ‘”bird baths”. Now I’m going to start unboxing my emergency items and give them a test run.

  12. Living without power AND water is not a “test” here….. it is a way of life.
    When I moved to the Philippines in 1998, power outages lasting 8 to 10 hours were a weekly experience. During the rainy season, we would go days where the power would only be on for a short period then off again. When the power goes, so goes the water.

    I quickly learned the lesson of Candles vs Batteries. I ran out and bought those emergency lights that come on the moment the power is cut, only to find that they don’t last long, and take forever to recharge. Battery powered flashlights and camp lanterns have the same problem, not to mention the cost of batteries.

    I created some wonderful candle holders out little tin foil loaf pans and now have them (along with a Bic lighter) stashed in every room of the house.

    Electric appliances where also few and far between when I first got here. My 110v stuff would work on the 220v power without a transformer. So I bought every manual item I saw. Hand can opener, hand crank meat grinder, hand crank mixer. Needless to say my kitchen now looks like something out of a Norman Rockwell painting, but it works.

    We bought 1.5 horse power gas generator, and had it wired into the kitchen and my office. It works well, but I have to ask a neighbor to come over and start it for me because I can’t pull the crank. Need to get one with a battery starter on it.

    When the power goes out nationwide, there is NO internet OR Phone service!! If the suppliers of the service can not get power to there transmission points everything goes black. Let’s not forget that the water goes when the power is out too. The pumping stations here need power to keep the pressure up, so you have no water.

    Loosing the water supply here is so common that most neighborhoods have a central well with an old fashion hand pump. Yes, you must boil it before drinking, but it is better than nothing. We keep several 5 gallon bottles of water on hand at all times for drinking, but use pump water for other things. (Flushing the toilet is high on the “other things” list) :)

    Cooking was a challenge. If you do not have a cast iron dutch oven, GET ONE. Most homes here use propane gas (in large cylinders) to cook. Cheap pots and pans can not stand up to the high heat of these open flame burners, and my dutch oven works great. (Note: for the camp fire, I use an old camera tripod to suspend it over the fire. Works great and is collapsible and light weight.) My prep kit now contains a homemade cookbook for dutch oven recipes.

    In short, having grown up with all the modern stuff at home, then moving to the PI, I became a preper not by choice, but by need. We can now go weeks without power or water, and suffer very little.

  13. As far as clocks go get a solar powered watch. Citizen makes a line called ECO Drive. The face of the watch is a solar cell that recharges the battery. It goes to sleep if in the dark for several days. I had one I misplaced when moving. I found it a year later while looking for something else, isn’t that always the way. As soon as the light hit the face of the watch it woke up. The hands spun around to the correct time and the calendar moved to the correct day.

  14. Great work, as usual. I really need to do this test myself. Preparing is something we all should be doing and I for one am glad a month is highlighted to open the eyes of others. Here’s a great deal this is going on right now that is helpful for both new and well-stocked preparers:

    Everything in this bundle should be printed out for the day we hope doesn’t come.

  15. It is easy for us to do the no power weekend because that is what we do every weekend we are at hunt camp from Sept until Jan and since that is also our first bug out location after bugging in at home if needed here is what we have set up.
    First the entire camper is set up on 12 volt batteries and redundant propane gas system. If the batteries get too low the gas kicks in to run the refrigerator and water heater, During the week our bank of standing solar panels charge up a large bank of batteries we have set up in a plastic garden shed next to the camper. It is enough to keep the refrigerator running while we are not there and trickle charge our electric hunting cart we use to move around the property. We turn off the water heater except for the few hours prior to needing it as it is a small on demand type heater. The water pump also runs on the batteries and only comes on when water is needed. We have a gas generator when our usage will over tax the batteries or when we have not had enough sunny days and running it for even two hours during the day will completely recharge the battery bank and give us plenty of juice to use for what ever lights, water pump and heater , furnace fans during the night and even our tv for evening view time. The furnace and stove are gas with the furnace needing the 12 volt batteries for the fans.
    Since this camper is pretty much in place we have it hooked up to a home made septic tank and we have a large 100 lb propane tank on sight. We still have and use two smaller 20 lbs tanks attached to the camper which will last us about 6-8 weekends during the coldest weekends with the heat on at 72 all weekend and set at 50 during the week. The large tank is mainly our back up as we fill up the 20 lbs as needed right now. We also have 4 20 lb tanks at home we can bring with us when bugging out. We have 50 gallons of gasoline in a metal drum with a hand pump at the house we use (rotate out) for lawn mower, power washers etc we can bring to camp as well for the generator. We would also bring the second generator we have to power the house during power outages as a back up. We have a trailer hitch lift that allow us to move a full drum up to the truck bed. So we can also move our rain barrels from home to camp when ever needed.
    Right now we have no well on the property but our neighbors at the camp do and that is where we go to get our water (in 55 gal drums) that we put into our camper tank for now. They have a back up generator and hand pump as a power loss back up. We also have a small battery pump and hand pumps to get water out ot the drums into the camper.
    For food although the frig and freezer are small in the camper we can keep enough there for at least 2 months of weekend meals at a time. I keep only needed items cold in the frig. I keep eggs oiled and out on the counter. I use shelf stable milk for drinking and powdered milk for cooking. We do bring in fresh bread and such that in a Bug out scenario would have to be replaced with the bread maker from home. We have a list of small appliances that are either manual or can run off the 12 volt outlets: toaster oven, Foreman grill, coffee maker, etc, I did get my first Thrive box of vegetables this past week so I took it down and we did try the broccoli, peas and carrots with our Friday and Saturday dinners. The broccoli parts where very small and took quite a while to get to the right tenderness even with cooking. The peas and carrots did much better. The peas plumped up the fastest and had a great texture. The carrots were also small to our liking but worked well in the meal. In a long term Bug out scenario we would switch to other means of cooking. We have a number of grills, cook boxes, dutch ovens, a brick fire pit with cooking grate, etc. at camp. I just got us a battery recharger that is suppose to charge regular batteries, we will see. We already had 3 chargers for re-chargable batteries we use for all of our flash lights, hunting trail cameras and other battery devices. We have a number of solar power outside lights that are on motion sensors for workable light and many of the little $ store stake lights we have set out as markers for a little extra light needed around the camp. Our digital weather station is on a solar panel and we have a set of solar panels on top of the camper that the cords run inside so that we can charge our laptop, tablets and phones during the day while at camp or we can just use the inside outlets to use the larger battery bank. At home we have a number of oil lamps, plenty of battery lights and a generator to take care of the main house needs for heat (during the winter with an ice storm) and keeping the refrigerators and freezers running (all four of them) for at least a full week with our gas reserves. Cooking we would move to the outside propane grills and burners with the 80 lbs of propane. Water would be from the 220 gallons of rain barrels and other fresh water storage.

  16. GREAT article! We have been without electricity many times for days or even weeks in both winter and summer due to either ice storms or tornadoes.

    One thing that I like are the solar lights outside in my garden. They work just fine in the house when needed and will recharge each day to work for about 8 hours each night.

    As for bathing, getting a camp shower works well. Just put the water in it and set it in the sun to have hot water for a quick shower. My brother and I were talking about this a couple of days ago and he mentioned that at boy scout camp when he was growing up, they had a 400 or 500 gallon old propane tank that was painted black which was used for the hot water. (you can find decommissioned propane tanks around Amish communities for sale) He said it was nice and hot unless there were a couple of days with no sun. I found this summer that our cold water input hose for the camper which is white, allowed the water to get so hot that even if it was just cold water, it was too hot to shower in the afternoons in the camper! Oye! Never ran out of hot water though! :)

    When we had 48 inches of snow while living in upstate NY in our 5th wheel and lost power for 3 days, we immediately turned all of the heat down to 50 in the br and 55 in the coach saving propane and battery power. We were able to cook on the stove which was propane. We have a stack of books which were used and piled all of our blankets on our bed along with the dogs and slept so well!!!! Our batteries lasted well this way, but we could have hooked up the truck to recharge the batteries. We didn’t have a generator.

    In houses that we have had, we had wood burning fireplaces. When the electricity went out due to ice storms, we aired up our air mattresses and lived in the room where the fireplace was located–usually with friends and neighbors who didn’t have heat. I cooked in my cast iron cookware on the fireplace which worked just fine. The fireplace also had enough heat that it kept the pipes from freezing.

    In the summer, after an EF-5 tornado in April but it was in the mid 90 degree range, I ran first thing to the store across the road and grabbed bags of ice which I placed in my mother-in-law’s freezer and a styro cooler for items that didn’t fit in the freezer.

    In our house I always had 2-liter water bottles in the freezer to keep the freezer full so it was more efficient and to have water if they thawed. I always have deep freezes because the cold stays in those better than upright freezers. We cooked and ate everything in the fridge first, then the freezer in the fridge then started on the deep freeze. If it was getting to the point where it was thawing and I would lose the food, I had a big bar b que and fed the neighbors! I would rather do that than waste it. That happened in the big flood. We were fine but the town was surrounded by water and couldn’t get in or out. Lots of good outdoor cookin!

    I always have waterless hand sanitizer by each sink in the house in case of water problems and there have been several over the years! I also have the 5 gallon jugs of water which I just get out and upend into a ceramic holder made for those that I used when living in the desert.

    Since it was hot, we used a little trick that I read about from the 1930’s during the dust bowl when it was so hot and dry. They moved their beds outside and then took their sheet and soaked it and then wrung it out and put over them and ran a fan if there was electric–if not, sleeping outside or where there is a breeze works too. It really is quite comfortable! For little ones, just put the sheet on the railings of the bed and run the fan so it hits the sheet. We had several tornadoes which caused outages and usually around July 4th when it was in the mid to upper 90’s and humid. The wet sheets worked just fine. You could also put the wet sheet under and cover with a dry one.

    Just a few hints from times when we have had to “learn by fire”. :) Luckily, I grew up camping in tents and such as our family was not wealthy so I learned a LOT from my dad who was an Explorer Scout leader and hunted and trapped.

  17. The fact that living without electricity caused stress is significant. In the prover ial SHTF situation, we’ll all have to get used to how much extra time and energy it takes to accomplish ordinary daily tasks.
    As for the Sun Oven, why not put the food in so it heats as the oven heats?

  18. 2003 we had two wildfires converge nearby. My house was saved by wonderful firefighters but the water pipes to our tank melted and the elec was out for about 2 weeks. We did have a small gas generator to help out with parts of things like TV for news and my modem and computer for more info. Cooking was good because I have propane appliances.
    I learned much. A landline phone works often when nothing else does. I was there to tell my evac-ed neighbors that their houses were still standing.
    Since then I have gotten a whole house gas generator and enough fuel for running for at least 100 hours. I have purchased and used 2 sun ovens, a Royal Berkey water filter, 2 large Kelly Kettles, etc. I have 3 hand crank grain grinders and a hand crank blender and a small hand crank food processor. And have added much more to my emergency equipment in general.
    It is actually pretty fun!

  19. This past year, we had a winter storm that knocked out our power for 5 days! Thankfully, it was so cold we didn’t have a problem with food storage(but your idea with the freezer is great!). However, we don’t have fireplaces or gas heaters, so heating posed an issue the first day. We have a large porch with a roof that overhangs the ground on 1 end(so we can back up & unload the car in the rain), so we wrapped the whole thing in sheets of plastic & tarps & built an impromtu fire pit, we didn’t even need jackets! Also, we just cooked on top of the fire pit, no special anything needed, but do make sure you wrap any of the rubbery handles of your pans with aluminum foil to keep them from burning off, trust me, I learned that the hard way! Also, we have a large pot(for tamales), so we boiled water, dumped it in the tub, added some cold, and had baths with no problem! We also washed a few clothes this way, since the lights went out the day before laundry day!

  20. Good article and excellent insights. During an ice storm, when we lived up north, we were without power for nearly two weeks. Being country folk, we were prepared and got along quite nicely dipping water from our old hand-dug well. It was then that we realized the wisdom of purchasing a gasoline powered generator and/or solar panels to recharge 12v batteries. Speaking of generators. Just a friendly point of clarification.

    You use the phrase, “The small generator we have now is battery powered.” A generator creates or ‘generates’ electricity, a battery stores electricity. Batteries are not generators and generators are not batteries. If a battery ‘generated’ electricity it would never need to be recharged or replaced. Maybe it should be called ‘power source’?

  21. Oh wow, good for you for doing this. Very nice list of things you’ll need to improve. I’m going to go through your checklist and double check that we’re okay on most of them. I definitely need a solar battery charger, though, that I know for certain.

  22. I’ve found some decent, in-expensive flashlights that are great for kids or general all around use at Lowe’s in a 12 pack which include batteries for about $12.

    Also, I’ve found pure beeswax candles are a great way for lighting that does not bother people with allergies or breathing problems.

    I got all 3 of my boys their own individual buckets of K’nex toys and this is one of those “treat” toys – great for days like this and it works on fine motor skills!


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