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How To Live Without Electricity: The Ultimate Survival Guide for Power Outages

Power outages can hit when you least expect them, leaving you without access to a huge number of everyday necessities.

That’s why learning how to live without electricity is an extremely helpful skill for anyone who may have to deal with circumstances like extreme weather and unpredictable power grids or for anyone who’s just looking to live more self-sufficiently.

Luckily, we have a step-by-step list of what you’ll need to do to live safely and successfully without power. Keep reading to learn all the important details!

How to live without electricity

Be Prepared

The biggest gift you can give yourself when learning how to live without electricity is preparing in advance. Whether you’re purposely planning to live off the grid or you just find yourself without power in an emergency situation, being prepared will help you significantly.

One way to get prepared is to start building your base of available supplies before you need them. While you don’t need to purchase everything under the sun, having some essentials ready to go is a good idea.

Specifically, make sure to stock up on energy sources like batteries and propane that can keep your most important devices up and running when electricity is no longer available.

Just because you’ll need to figure out how to live without electricity doesn’t mean you’ll have to live without all your electronics!

It’s also smart to stock up on food that you can safely store for a long period of time or to purchase entire shelf-stable meals.

If power outages happen consistently in your area or if you’re taking steps to decrease your electricity usage, consider investing in larger self-sufficient survival devices like a water purification system, a composting toilet or solar panels.

Consider Your Options

Even though you’ve now prepared for the possibility of a power outage, you’ll need to learn how to live without electricity when it becomes a reality.

Once disaster hits, you’ll need to ask yourself a few important questions. Specifically, what kinds of resources do you have? What do you not have but need? These questions will help you determine what your most urgent needs are moving forward.

You can then prioritize tasks accordingly based on what you’re lacking. For example, if you don’t have much drinkable water available, maybe locating a water source will move to the top of your list.

Another relevant step during this process of emergency planning is to delegate tasks among group members. If you’re with other people, it’s a good idea to determine everyone’s strengths and assign tasks accordingly. That way, you can get a greater number of jobs done more efficiently and quickly.

No matter what, stay calm! While it’s understandable that you might be worried about exactly how to live without electricity, stressing out too much will just waste time and energy that you can’t afford to spare.

Utilize What You Have

Because you’ll likely be stuck in place during a power outage, a big part of tackling how to live without electricity is utilizing what’s around you.

If you’ve intentionally prepared to live without electricity, whether you’re camping or planning to live off the grid, you probably have a lot more materials that you’re able to use.

If you’re learning how to live without electricity in an emergency situation, your stockpile may be less extensive. Don’t panic, though! Try to repurpose everyday objects as much as possible, and you’ll be surprised at how much use you can get out of them.

How to live without electricity

Our Every Day Items page has some great articles about survival uses for household products if you’re looking to get your creative juices flowing!

At this point, it’s important to note that while utilizing what you have is a step all on its own, you don’t need to limit it just to the very beginning of your survival process. As you use materials, pay attention to how you can reduce waste or repurpose byproducts after use.

Finally, be strategic during daylight hours and get the most important tasks done while the sun is still out. One of the most crucial aspects of learning how to live without electricity is figuring out how to get things accomplished without the lighting you’re used to, so you’ll need to maximize your efficiency before it gets dark outside.

Locate a Water Source

Finding a source of drinkable water is the next step in mastering how to live with electricity.

Depending on how extensively you’ve prepared, you might already have a few jugs of water in your survival stash.

Since you probably don’t know how long you’ll have to last without power, use these resources sparingly until you can find another renewable water source.

In geographic areas where rain is more common, you may be able to obtain water through rainwater collection in items like a rain barrel, a drum or even a clean trash can.

Obviously, this tactic doesn’t work as effectively if you’re located somewhere where there’s not much rain. In that case, you may have to build your own water system or rely on other natural resources for water.

For example, streams and rivers are your friend, too! You just have to make sure that the water is properly treated before consumption.

On a similar note, any water you collect will have to be filtered if you’re planning on drinking it. You may not have known, but water filtration is an essential step of mastering how to live without electricity.

This is where water purification systems come in. You may be able to do this with the help of natural processes, but this is also where purchasing a water filtration system in advance turns out to be extremely handy. Additionally, you can use water purification tablets as a more convenient, but one-off, filtration method.

For more detailed directions on constructing your own water system, see our post on How to Build an Off Grid Water System.

Eat Shelf-Stable Foods

When the power goes out and you don’t have access to the appliances that help you prepare and store your meals, eating shelf-stable foods is key to survival.

Shelf-stable foods are broadly defined as food products that don’t have to be refrigerated or frozen prior to consumption.

While this isn’t always the case, shelf-stable foods are often canned, dehydrated, or dried to make them last longer without the help of a freezer or fridge.

How to live without electricity

In general, shelf-stable foods are pretty long-lasting, which means that you can keep them in your pantry for a while without having to replace them or use them up. However, it’s a good idea to check the expiration dates every six months or so to make sure that the food you plan to eat won’t make you sick.

If you need some suggestions of food items that would make great additions to your survival stash, check out our post about 15 Foods That Last for 25 Years or More.

Prepare Meals Over a Fire

In addition, if you have propane, you may be able to cook some food over a camp stove or similar heat source. Conserving resources is key when figuring out how to live without electricity, so just be mindful of how much propane you use for one meal so that you don’t run out in the middle of preparing your next meal!

Even if you don’t have propane, it may still be possible to cook your food over a heat source. Specifically, you can also try building a good old-fashioned fire using logs and other natural materials if you’re in an area where objects like twigs, leaves, and branches are somewhat easily accessible.

Food prep and consumption is a great time to think about utilizing what you already have to stretch your materials. Although you might think of most food byproducts as only good to put in the trash or compost, there’s a lot of food waste that you can put to use in other ways.

For example, check out our post on 13 amazing uses for bacon grease to learn how to think creatively about your food waste when working through how to live without electricity.

Keep Yourself Cool and Protected From the Sun

When temperatures get too high, a big part of learning how to live without electricity is learning how to keep yourself cool without electricity.

If you’re indoors without power, then this might be less of a concern. However, it’s still important to stay on top of the temperature of your home, especially during the middle of the day when the sun is at its highest.

In addition, you might not have access to air conditioning via back-up power sources, which makes a big difference.

When it’s especially sunny and temperatures are high, keep your shades and curtains drawn to keep the heat out as much as possible.

If you’re outdoors without a shelter, seek shade under trees and other natural resources as often as you can during the day.

Whenever there’s a breeze and the temperatures feel safe to do so, open windows and doors as you’re able to engage in cross ventilation. When executed correctly, the breeze will produce a cross-current throughout your house and cool things down.

Succeeding in learning how to live without electricity means limiting your time out in the elements as much as possible.

How to live without electricity

However, if you will be outdoors at all, minimize the time that you’ll be out and about during peak heat hours. Also be sure to utilize sunscreen, sunglasses, and other sun protection gear so that you can prevent sunburn.

Seek Warmth When it Gets Cold

On the other hand, if the power goes out in the winter or just in a region where it gets particularly cold at night, you’ll need to determine how to live without electricity and the heating it provides while keeping yourself warm.

To keep your body temperature up, prioritize using thick blankets made out of wool or other heat-trapping materials as much as you can. Depending on where you are, you could also build a fire or employ a camp stove to warm up the space. This is where a propane heater may also come in handy.

Another crucial aspect of figuring out how to live without electricity in cold weather is trapping as much heat within your living space as possible.

To achieve this, place blankets or thick pieces of fabric up against the bottom of doorways and windows. This tactic will prevent heat from escaping out of nooks and crannies and will stop cold air from getting in.

Find at Least One Source of Light

One of the most obvious necessities of learning how to live without electricity is figuring out where exactly you’ll get your light. While capitalizing on daylight hours is ideal, it’s best to have at least one light source that can keep you safe and allow you to see your surroundings at night.

Any light source that is rechargeable or that can last a while without being plugged into a power source is your best bet. Specifically, anything battery-powered is good, but devices that can be recharged through other means, like by a hand-crank, are even better.

Candles, lanterns, and solar lighting are also solid options when it comes to determining how to live without electricity but still lighting up your living space.

Mastering How to Live Without Electricity

While learning how to live without electricity may seem a little intimidating, pretty much anyone can do it with the right tools and some common sense! If you follow this guide, you’ll be on track to strengthen your survival skills and withstand any power outage.

If you found this post helpful and want to continue learning about how to keep yourself safe in all sorts of survival situations, check out our Desert Survival or Cold Climate Survival pages for lots more information.