We are a generation that was born on innovation and in a short period of time we became addicted to all the electronic devices that are part of our daily lives. The Internet, the cell phones and our personal computer are all devices that control us and we can’t function properly without them. All these devices rely on a common denominator – electricity. When the flow of electricity suddenly stops, our normal existence will stop as well and we will have to adapt to a new world, a world without electricity.
In the previous article titled “How to Live without electricity – part I”, we’ve looked at the main threats that can plunge our world into darkness, but we also listed the primary needs that we need to fulfill once there is no more electricity.
Although the following areas are important to survival they are not as critical as the first primary needs. Some may argue that these needs are equally important, but survival and especially long-term survival is different from case to case. If you are a doctor, self-healing shouldn’t be a problem for you, but securing your home and fending off looters might be. If you are the handyman type you will probably be able to become self-sufficient, but you also know that you will require help at some point. Long term survival is different from one person to another, but regardless of whom you are, having the right knowledge and the ability to make the environment work in your favor will significantly increase your chances of survival in world without electricity.
The following needs: sanitation, medicine, security, entertainment, social interaction and self-development should be addressed and it’s better to have a clear idea of what you should expect in a world without electricity. All these needs will affect your life at some point and they are important for long-term survival.
Sanitation in a world without electricity
When the flow of electricity stops, the world will not only get darker, but it will get filthier as well. Waste management will become one of your main problems and especially human waste. Your living environment plays an important role on how you should handle this. If you have the space you can dig a latrine, but make sure you do it in a location away from your home. Dig a shallow trench about 4 feet long, 6 inches deep and 6 inches wide. Set aside a pile of loose topsoil to cover the waste. If this is not an option for you, try to improvise a toilet bucket if you have enough heavy duty plastic bags to spare. You will have to discard the bags and you will have to do this at night if you want to keep a low profile. Try to bury them if you can and if not, deposit them in various locations. You should avoid discarding the bags in one place because it will give away your position in a long-term survival scenario. If your living area allows it, you should install a compost toilet; you will have less trouble to worry about.
In a world without electricity, trash will pile up and it will bring pests and diseases. If you’ve traveled to countries that are less developed, you know what I’m talking about. When it comes to handling trash in a world without electricity, recycling plays an important role. You might not be into recycling right now, but you will have no other choice than to reuse what you consume in a changing world. Your garbage disposal won’t work and you will need to find better ways of using your organic trash. Building a biogas generator is a perfect solution for getting rid of organic waste and it will provide you with fuel that you can use during emergencies. Another method of using organic waste is composting and it involves recycling decomposing organic materials into a rich soil that you can use for your garden. Anything else that you use can be recycled as well; if it’s made of wood or metal you can find a use for it and all you need is imagination. You can make traps from your metal cans or you can improvise an alarm system. Here’s just a quick tip: get a used metal can and remove the lid completely, clean it with sand or ash (if you want to save water), nail it to a long wood pole and use it to pick fruits from nearby trees. Anything from your household can be used for survival if you put your mind into it, and you will have a lot of time to do that.
Staying clean in a world without electricity is another aspect you should rethink. You will probably never be truly clean again and you will have to say goodbye to those long hot showers. However, there are still solutions to keep a good hygiene. For general bathing, a camp shower will work just great and it’s better to have one, regardless if you go camping or if you are trapped in a world without electricity. The basic solution would be to rely on sponge baths to stay clean, but it’s less efficient than using a camp shower. Regardless of what methods you opt for, make sure you have a system in place for collecting the runoff water and later reuse it for your garden. Some people are stockpiling wet sanitary napkins and other such items, but that’s only a short-term solution. They will run out eventually and you will have to find other ways of staying clean. You can also improvise a rain catching system using five gallon water bottles. Get a few of these bottles and attach them to the outside of your home, cut a hole in the bottom of the bottles and connect them to your rain gutters. Use a water hose to connect the bottles with the interior of your home and that’s pretty much it. Make sure to paint the water bottles the same color as the exterior of your house.
Taking care of your teeth is vitally important so you should do everything you can to stock up on the necessary items. However, just like all the other supplies at some point, you will have to make do without the common toothbrush and toothpaste. You can make your own toothpaste and a simple recipe involves using one part of salt and two parts of baking soda. It won’t taste great, but it will do the trick of keeping your teeth and gums clean. You can also make your own mouthwash and all you need is hydrogen peroxide and water. Mix equal quantities and you will be OK as long as you do not swallow the mixture. Keeping a good oral hygiene in a world without electricity shouldn’t be a problem and you need to learn how to make your own toothpaste and mouthwash.
Related reading: How to survive without electricity Part 1
Another aspect of sanitation that people seem to forget about or just ignore is taking care of the dead ones. No I’m not talking about zombies here, I’m talking about the delicate situation of handling corpses. Any long-term disaster will create causalities and even if we like it or not, we will have to deal with this. In a world without electricity, time will take a toll on human lives and everyone should take care of the dead bodies that will pile up. This will become a reality and something will need to be done with corpses. Chances are the local funeral homes won’t be able to help you. Leaving dead bodies scattered around is a health hazard and it’s also a big hit on morale. If you have to dispose of a body and you want to give a proper burial, you will have to bury the body 3 feet under to prevent disease transmission. You don’t have to build a coffin as it will require for you to dig a bigger hole and it can be a backbreaking labor. You can wrap the body in cloth before burial, it won’t matter in the long run. Another option is cremation, but this will require a lot of wood and it will also attract unwanted attention.
Medicine in a world without electricity
In a world without electricity you would see the complete collapse of modern medical capability. We are used to summon an ambulance with a simple phone call and the evaporation of health care is terrifying for most of us. Every injury you suffer is potentially fatal if not treated immediately and properly. An important aspect of emergency preparedness is stockpiling medicine, but self-healing is more than having the right medicine and right tools. Self-healing is about knowing how to use what you have and knowing how to make do with what you can find. I won’t go into details about what you should have in your medical kit as you can find a lot of information online. However, I have to stress the idea about having a good stock of specific medication that you will need and about knowing alternatives cures for your specific illness. Stockpiled medications aren’t going to last forever and you need to learn about natural remedies. Get field guides to medical plants and herbs native to your environment, organize trips to see if and what you can forage and how easy you can do it. Natural healing is so complex and amazing that’s impossible not to find a solution for your medical conditions. Books on self-care and natural healing are a must for every SHTF library.
Grab some Survival Books and Be Prepared
Birth control is something that should be taken into account because procreation is one of the strongest compulsions of humans. People will turn to sexual activity as a form of entertainment, to alleviate stress and anxiety. It’s already a way to pass the time when the power’s out, imagine when the power will be out for good. You will need to stockpile on birth control methods such as condoms if you don’t want to worry about childbirth and neonatal care.
At some point, childbirth will become an issue and without the modern medical intervention, it will once again become a dangerous time for both mother and child. In a world without electricity, when medical aid is not available, it will become almost impossible to resolve the serious complications that may occur during birth. You will need to learn about childbirth and about what medical supplies can be scavenged in the aftermath. When it comes to serious medical interventions, you will need a doctor that can help you. I’ve read about some preppers that plan to “hijack” their local doctors in case SHTF, meaning that they will offer food and shelter in return for their services. This might work if you really know the doctor and if you’re discussing this with him prior to the event.
Security in a world without electricity
Maybe you’re the type of person that is against guns and you think we will be better off without them. Although I do respect your opinion, I bet you will change your mind rather quickly when you will be forced to live in world without electricity, a world in which the laws do not apply anymore. When you’re in the dark and you hear looters outside your house, a gun can provide you with a sense of security that nothing else can. Not to mention that it will become a pretty good deterrent for the criminal elements of society. Having a firearm for protection is something you should really consider and getting the proper training on how to use it is vital. There are many debates on what guns you should own and how much ammo you should store, but in the end, it is all up to you. Keeping your loved ones safe will become a constant duty for you, especially if you managed to survive the first wave of casualties. Unfortunately, a gun is not the only thing you need and there is more to home defense than just owning a gun. Ken, an experienced prepper and respected contributor wrote about home defense in a previous article. There are some good tips that anyone can implement for their home.
Related reading: Protecting your home, it’s a Family Affair
Making your home bulletproof and being able to stay under the radar are skills that will be tested if you will end up living in a world without electricity. You have to understand that every time you make noise or every time you use a light source you could give away your position and people will be drawn to your location. You should avoid using a power generator that makes noise and you should avoid using a light source at night if you can’t prevent light from escaping your home. Any light in the dark will become a beacon for the unprepared and they will be drawn to your house like moths to the moon.
Having the element of surprise on your side is always good if the laws do not apply anymore. Being able to set up traps (remember those cans you’ve used, they will come in handy now) and be alerted on time of possible intruders will help you keep your cool and deal with the situation. You should always be one step ahead and it shouldn’t be hard considering that you are on your own turf.
There is safety in numbers and human history has proved it over and over again. You can’t be a lone wolf forever and you should have someone to turn to when things get really rough. Having a survival group is crucial for long-term survival and you should be part of one if you want to survive for more than a year or two. A survival group provides many advantages: chores are divided between its members, security is improved and collective knowledge can build kingdoms.
You might be a pacifist right now, but that will change very quickly when SHTF. Make sure you can provide security and comfort for your family if you want to live in a new world.
Entertainment in a world without electricity
In a world that is crumbling you may think that there is no room for entertainment. That may be true for the first months after the aftermath, but once things start to settle, you will have to find ways to entertain yourself and your loved ones. You will need to find a way to past the time and improve your morale. It will become a bigger need if you have children and you will need to keep them busy. There will be so many things to be done that the last thing you need is to deal with some moody kids that demand everything from you. You will need to stack some board games and you will need to know how to make toys from what you can find (scavenge). There are many DIY articles online on how to make various toys for the kids. Everything from puppets to complex wooden toys can be made if you follow the instructions. While these rudimentary toys might work for the small ones, you will need something else for the teenagers. Many preppers have in their EMP protection bags an iPad full with games or ebooks that will come in handy during harsh times.
Another form of entertainment is to get everyone involved and take part in completing the daily chores. If you have small kids, they will see it as a game and they will be eager to help. Kids will not hesitate to help their parents if they are asked to do so. They will build up confidence, they will learn how to handle various tasks and it will create a special bond that will bring them closer to their parents.
There will be those who will rely on tobacco and alcohol as a form of relaxation or entertainment, but this approach is not recommended during a time of crisis. If you’ve stockpiled these items, you will be better off if you use them as barter.
You will need to find ways to entertain yourself and your family members if you want to keep your calm and think things through. You can’t always be on the edge and you need to unwind from time to time.
Social interaction in a world without electricity
Isolation over long periods of times will drastically affect the human mind and you will end up going crazy. There are many studies about human isolation and the damaging effects of long periods of isolation from society and current needs, combined with the sensory deprivation. People become depressed and manifest signs of schizophrenia, they tend to lose self-consciousness and over time, they start to see and hear things that do not exist. Here is how Dr. Alexander Kumar describes his 11 month experience on the Concordia science station in Antarctica: “I had terrible nightmares. Dreams can tangle your life. It is easy to become disoriented. Time amalgamates and the concepts of the past, present and future can become confusing”. Another good example of what isolation can do and how it can affect our time perception is the case of the French speleologist Michael Siffre. He lived under an alpine glacier, in darkness for 2 months and when he came out it took him 5 minutes to count what he believed were 120 seconds.
In a world without electricity, you will need to interact with other humans and the reasons may vary from person to person. You can’t be a lone wolf forever and sooner or later you will need to seek other people. You will need to interact with other survivors if you need help for various problems, like treating a nasty wound or fixing a generator. You will need to interact with people if you want to barter. Or maybe you will seek other people because you just need a companion for when things get rough.
Regardless how high and mighty some people think they are, the path of the lone wolf is a hard one and you can’t eliminate social interaction. No matter how much you will struggle, you will never be able to accomplish what a group can and sooner or later you will need some help. You will need the company of others and it’s better to know in advance who can you trust (maybe you have some good neighbors that are trustworthy people or maybe you have friends you can depend on).
Social interaction can be developed and exploited if you are part of a survival group. Statistically, you have better chances of surviving if you are part of a group. Humans made it so far because we are social beings and we often depend on networks of people to get things done.
Self-Development in a world without electricity
In a world without electricity you won’t have the internet to help you figure out how to do things or how to handle certain situations. You will have to rely on experience and self-help in order to improve your skills. You will need to document what you are doing and you will have to learn from your mistakes, otherwise life will get harder and harder. I’ve discussed in a previous article about the need to have a SHTF Library, and what that library should contain. Self-development will become mandatory and this is another reason why you should be part of a group. Collective memory will hopefully help us build things like they once were and living among people from which you have something to learn, will help you improve your knowledge and pass it on to your kids. It might sound childish for some but keeping a journal and documenting events, keeping track of seasonal changes, monitoring the activity of your neighbors or just simply keeping track of your supplies, will become an important activity. It will help you to improve your life in a changed world and it will be a useful teaching for the next generations. For example, when it comes to agriculture most of what has been learned about companion planting has been learned not by scientists, but by gardeners and farmers who documented everything.
You will be forced to adapt to a world without electricity because things might not get back to normal so soon. The areas of interest described in this article should be considered by everyone and you don’t have to be a prepper, a survivalist or an off-gridder to want to live if disaster like an EMP attack would happen tomorrow. I hope we never have to find out how we would live in a world without electricity and that all this knowledge will not be tested. Make sure you read the first part of this article if you feel that something is missing.