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Even though most of us are familiar to short-term power outages and would easily make it without electricity for one or two days, most people don’t ever consider the possibilities of going their entire lives without the commodity of electrical power. And why would they? Power is plenty and is available everywhere apparently. But the infrastructure on which it was all built is crumbling, in dire need of modernization. Electricity may well be the first commodity to go! Surviving such rapid turns of events will be trickier than you can imagine. What I’m talking about here is pure survival in the absence the most defining power source of our modern society.
It’s not about managing day by day without entertainment (tv, internet, cell phones etc.), it’s more than that: it’s about preserving and cooking food, it’s about communicating over long distances in cases of emergency, it’s about keeping your house lit at night and your family warm during cold seasons. We’ll need to “downgrade” in lifestyle in order to stay alive, but that’s a small price to pay for the opulence and decadence of this past century. Let’s have a look at what can keep us going during the hard times that lie ahead.
How to preserve food and cook without power
If the power dies and your fridge is full, you got about two days until the contents start spoiling. Don’t panic and don’t throw the food away. 48 hours is plenty of time to act and save most of what you have in the freezer. You’ll need to act quickly on preserving foods like meat, eggs, dairy, fruit and veggies. There are plenty of ways of saving your food and keeping it fresh and edible for long periods of times, be it meat, potatoes or easily pickled vegetables. Also be aware of the fact that many of the produce that people tend to keep in the fridge don’t necessarily belong there in the first place. Stuff like ketchup, sauces, mayonnaise (maybe), jams and spices will be just fine outside as long as they’re not directly exposed to high temperatures (room temperature will do).
If you have your mind set on keeping your food in freezing conditions, there are alternatives that are easy to make and will get the job done. The Zeer pot is natural refrigerator (based on evaporation), excellent when it comes to cooling. You just need to pots, one smaller than the other, so that it can fit right in. Place sand in the bigger pot, so that there’s no free space left when you place the smaller pot in. Make sure the big pot is unglazed. After doing so, pour cool water on the sand so that it’s nice and moist. Place the food in the smaller pot, and cover the top with a wet cloth. Once the water begins to evaporate, it will escape through the unglazed pot, producing a cooling effect which will keep your food 3 times fresher then if it was left out. This method is perfect especially for dairy products, but not only.
Cooking on a normal barbecue grill in this scenario might be valid solution, but not for long. As gas and charcoal will become less and less available, your best option is to build yourself a rocket stove. It’s very fuel-efficient, due to the fact that it can generate a high amount of heat for a minimum amount of fuel. It does so by moving large amounts of air through its body, ensuring that the fuel is completely burned. This keeps the flame burning rapidly and maintains the high temperature constant. And it’s very easy and cheap to put together.
How to heat your home
Once the power failures strike, common heating sources (electric radiators, central heating and even gas stoves) will become obsolete. The best option is installing a fire place or a wood burning stove. Special precautions need to be taken first though: ensure that it’s completely sealed and secured (so that noxious CO2 or fire embers can’t escape). CO2 can be fatal if you’re exposed to it for long periods of time (especially if it starts leaking while you’re sleeping) and burning embers might land on flammable surfaces and cause fires. So install your stove correctly! The chimney doesn’t have to be anything fancy; you can simply run it through a window. Simply remove the pane of glass and run the chimney through the empty space created. After you’re done, just cover the exposed area with plywood.
Alternative power sources
I know what you’re thinking: a gas-powered generator is the best solution for this type of scenario. It is, but for how long do you think gas will be available after the power grid gets shut down? As long as you’re good on gas provisions, these types of generators are more than useful. But once the gas is out and getting it will be dam near impossible, you’ll need to find other ways for generating power. Solar panels or wind generators are the best options available and will provide you and you’re family with at least some energy, in order to ease everyday life as much as possible. Upon purchasing such a system, make sure that your investment will fully accommodate your needs. Alternative energy systems are way more efficient if they come with a battery storage unit, in order to stock power that can be used at any time of the day. So if you invest wisely, you can have more than enough energy throughout the whole day in order to power a mini-fridge, a radio, a laptop or even an energy-friendly air conditioner. It basically comes down to how much you’re willing to spend.
Useful items to have
Here are a few basics items that will be very useful if you find yourself in a no-power scenario:
- Extra candles, matches and a couple of candle lanterns. This can be purchased or improvised
- Get a couple of flashlights. The LED ones are more power-efficient, but crank flash lights are the better option
- Get a solar-powered radio or a crank radio, so you can stay informed at all times
- Manual can openers are easy to use and to procure
- Always keep your car’s gas tank at least at half capacity and store some gas canisters for emergency situations
- Keep ice in the freezer; when the power goes, the ice will prolong the coolness for as much as possible
Just follow these simple rules and you should be ok when the power gets eventually cut off. Based on visible signs, we’re not far away from facing the end of civilization as we know it. Don’t wait for disaster to strike, get ready in advance and hope for the best. As long as you’re prepared, everything should play out just fine.
You should also check out this newly released book: Alive After The Fall.
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