When severe winter storms, tsunami, earthquakes or other natural catastrophes knock out power supplies, we suddenly realize how unlike our ancestors we’ve become.
For most of the modern world, life has come to depend largely upon the constant availability of electricity. Most of us need it for lighting, heating, water, cooking, entertainment and work.
Having the power go out for even a few hours usually represents a major inconvenience, causing both adults and children to count the seconds before “the lights go on again.”
However, humanity survived without electricity for most of its time on Earth. It is only in the last hundred years that our lives have been so transformed by those high-voltage lines running into our homes.
The Rule of Three
Regardless of whether it will be only a few hours before the power is on, several weeks, or the rest of your life, there are 3 conditions that must be met if survival without electricity is to be guaranteed:
- Shelter – A person can live 3 hours in extreme weather without shelter.
- Water – It will be 3 days before dehydration becomes serious.
- Food – Most people can survive 3 weeks without food.
Shelter must include not only a structure, but also the means to heat it in winter. Wood stoves are probably the best choice, especially if you have a bit of land with standing timber.
Water may present some problems, especially for those who do not live near a water source; in this case, supplies need to be stored.
Unless society ceases to function to such an extent that stores do not exist (not very likely), food should still be available. Alternatively, survival food can also be stored, too.
Making Life as Comfortable as Possible
Going unplugged doesn’t have to mean being primitive. Mainly, it takes a bit of getting used to. As a first step, millions around the world have chosen to join in the World Wildlife Fund’s annual Earth Hour event each Spring. Past participants say they look forward to going unplugged for a Saturday evening in March and even schedule other days out of the year for the experience, too.
Then there are religious groups who eschew electricity all together. While the Amish live more simply than most people today, they still do not live in discomfort, and their homes are comfortable and cheerful.
Electricity is not the only way to provide lighting. Kerosene, oil or gas lamps can provide lighting very similar to electric ones. Gas lights were used extensively before electricity was available. Those who opt for gas lighting can also use the line to power a gas refrigerator.
Before electricity brought entertainment to everyone’s home, people entertained themselves. Board and card games can keep a family happy, and learning to play musical instruments can enliven a home that doesn’t receive a single volt of power.
Cooking can be done using either a wood stove or a propane gas stove. During hot weather, when no one is going to want to fire up a wood stove to heat a kettle of water for tea, use the gas stove, a camp stove or even a solar oven.
If Paleo people lived just fine without electricity, perhaps with a bit of planning we, too, can make going unplugged not only endurable, but also a lifestyle choice. We often forget how resourceful we can be until put to the test.
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