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How To Survive Without Electricity

Updated on June 13, 2011

Situations Where There May Be No Electricity

It's interesting to read that electricity has only been a common household item in the last 50 or so years. Before that, people have survived for ages - so a lack of electricity for any duration of time is something that can be overcome. As human beings, we have had the experience and now have the added help of technological advances to survive without electricity.

In the short term, many of us experience power outages in our homes during the winter seasons where storms take out some local power lines. This might mean we are without power for the best part of a day. In the event of hurricanes, electricity may be cut for a more extended period of time (1-2 weeks). Generally speaking, short term survival can be overcome (with relatively little difficulty, just inconvenience - see below).

But what if some major crisis occurred and left entire countries without electricity for months or even years? Granted, odds are slim, but just what if it happened? Our grandparents and maybe our parents might have some ideas, having possible experienced this during their childhood. The majority of us wouldn't have a clue.

The aim of this hub is to set the scene for a situation where this is no electricity and look at options on how to survive in the short term and long term. Some photos of antique items are also presented, from my grandparents time, with a description of life during a time with no or little electricity. If we lost all electricity forever tomorrow, people now living in third world countries would be the best prepared for survival - they live through this scenario on a daily basis.

Power Outage

Image Credit:
Image Credit:

No Electricity = No More of These Things:

  • TV
  • Playstation / Xbox / Wii
  • Fridge
  • Freezer
  • Microwave / Oven
  • Washing Machines
  • Computers
  • Internet
  • DVD Players
  • Airconditioners/Fans/Heaters
  • Electric Guitars
  • Lifts / Escalators
  • EFTPOS, credit cards or ATMs (yikes!)
  • Phones

Most of the youth of today would be bored out of their brains in an instant without these items! Well, I guess they would be ok until their batteries ran out.

Emergency Lighting

It wasn't too long ago that people were active during the day and simply went to sleep when the sun went down. Candlelight dinners were the norm. With electricity came discos and cities that never sleep. Now, it's hard to imagine life without a simple bedroom light.

So candles or oil lamps and matches are one option, however they are limited in that if you don't have candles or fuel for the lamp, you don't have light.

Another way to ensure emergency lighting is to purchase a couple of solar or mechanically powered torches. You can use one while the other charges. Having said that though, both can be charged at the same time during the day as you wouldn't need them then.

Drinking Water

Even if you have a rainwater tank, no electricity means that pumps would not work to bring the water to your tap. Sure, having a generator would be handy for a few days, or as long as you have fuel.

Third world countries have community water pumps that are operated mechanically (by hand). Going one step further, condensation from leaves can be collected for drinking. Alternatively you can find a fresh water stream out bush.

Great "Electricity Free" Items

Hand Crank Self Powered Silver Dynamo 5 LED Flashlight
Hand Crank Self Powered Silver Dynamo 5 LED Flashlight

A flashlight that can generate power by just the twist of your wrist.


Cooking Without Electricity

You could quite easily cook a meal using a little portable gas stove - either a barbeque style apparatus, or something as small as a bunsen burner. But you'd obviously need gas. Some people used to do a lot of their cooking outside in wood-fired ovens. Some communities would make their own dough and then carry it over to the local oven where they may give the owner a fee of two pieces of bread in exchange for baking their buns.

Food Storage Without Electricity

Not having electricity brings the added difficulty of food storage. Most foods would have to be non-perishable, pantry items. For meats you could salt and dry them. Pickling vegetables is another preservation technique. If you live on a farm or have a bit of land, you could plant some fruit trees and grow your own vegetables (& herbs).


It would be very hard to maintain the speed and efficiency of communication between a large number of people simultaneously without electricity. Communication relates to our phones, cell phones, televisions and the internet. Radios would be the primary source of communication, as they were before television. There are some radios (seen on the above right) that you can buy which rely on solar or mechanically generated power to operate.


Without a complicated water and sewerage pipe system and pumps to have showers, people used to take baths. Water was boiled over an open fire and mixed with some water at room temperature to get warm water for their bath. Consequently, baths were quick and people would get out before the water turned cold. Nowadays, having a warm shower is a luxury that is taken for granted.

Before electricity

An old style coal iron - place hot coals inside it
An old style coal iron - place hot coals inside it
A woman washing her clothes by hand
A woman washing her clothes by hand
An old manual sewing machine
An old manual sewing machine

Washing & Ironing Clothes

Without a washing machine, people in third world countries wash all of their clothes by hand and without a dryer, they hang them up outside to dry. To iron their clothes, coal irons were used. Hot coals were placed inside the iron to generate the heat in the absence of heating elements and electricity.

Entertaining Yourself - Electricity Free Activities

What would you do without the Wii or the TV??

Some suggestions include taking up the acoustic guitar, tamborine, drums or wind instruments. Sing! Take up sports again (the physical kind, not the electronic games). Table tennis. Hopscotch. Marbles. Yo-yo's. Jump rope. Read books. Gardening. Farming. I suspect that without electricity, trades that involved craftsmanship would re-emerge and people will begin to value those who are skilled with their hands and take pride in their work. Woodworkers. Artists. People who can sew, knit etc. Chefs. If you put your mind to it, you would come up with many more hobbies that do not rely upon electricity. Sure, electricity makes things easier but we should be able to survive without it.


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    • profile image

      raylnn1 3 years ago

      Can you live in North Carolina with out Fayetteville, our Hope Mills

    • AuniceReed profile image

      Aunice Yvonne Reed 4 years ago from Southern California

      Great article. It really makes you think about how we take electricity for granted and rely on it for everything. I enjoy taking on challenges every once in awhile. Maybe I'll try living without electricity for a day or two just to see. My kids would get a kick out of it...or maybe not.

    • profile image

      Emil Berlendy 5 years ago

      I think Gods is about to give it all a rest,there,s going to be a lot strange things happening in the next few years or maybe less only he knows like T.Edison said mans god given ingenuity has run away with his equal god given humanity the two dynamo,s must be put in balance,man must learn this then we need not be afraid of tommorow and man can move forward to more light.

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      sagar 5 years ago

      a very well article and nice to read i really really liked it

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      Old Country Girl 5 years ago

      If electricity went out in the US, people would die by the thousands. You may be able to get some water and you may stay warm, but where would you get food. The stores would be enmity in the matter of days. If you live in the country you may have a chance. Most people don't know how to grow there own food and if they do it takes time.

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      Darkalex 5 years ago

      Stumbled on this blog because of being in the dark, nice article though :(

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      J. Overman 6 years ago

      I could survive with eletricity. I already heat and cook on a wood stove. I also use solar products. Get ready folks, it's going to happen sooner or later. Be prepared or be dead. Period!

    • profile image

      lilmonster123 6 years ago

      Having eletricity is like not having candy!! :)

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      deb 6 years ago

      I have 2 solar showers abou $6 at Walmart. They work in the summer. I put up 2 shower curtains for privacy and set up my shampoo, ect. And took long showers. About 3-4 showers per bag. In the cooler months, I heated the water and poured it in the bag. Hung the bags over what use to be my showerhead. Worked for me!

      I have been without running water for 3 years. I catch water in 55 gal drums; I have three full in the house and two that catch the water.

    • profile image

      VIMAL 6 years ago


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      meduh 6 years ago

      hi this is a nice blog lol

    • tiannasea profile image

      tiannasea 6 years ago

      *Suggestion* with regards to hygeine. There is a solution to showering without electricity that is inexpensive, easy and effective. Solar showers. They are gravity based technology and based on the principle that dark colors attract heat. It usually costs about $14 to $25 cdn. During the warm seasons it can be placed outside in direct sunlight for a few hours, in colder weather or regions it should be as effective to set it in greenhouses( please noteI have not tested this myself and would appreciate any feedback from others who have.)

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      Multiman 6 years ago

      Good article hope I never have to use some of the information in it though!

    • 2besure profile image

      Pamela Lipscomb 6 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

      This hub gives you a lot to think about. We lived without electricity for about 5 days. Thank God I had a fireplace. We used it for heat and to prepare meals. I felt like little house on the prairie! Voted up

    • profile image

      Cabo Jim 7 years ago

      Maybe the Amish have it right.

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      Shaun 7 years ago

      Thanks this really helped me write my science assesment :-)

    • profile image

      Lyn 7 years ago

      excellent article

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      Jim 7 years ago

      Why dont u go for a perpetual driven machine

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      lmhtf 7 years ago

      ilove having power outages i hope we have more this year then all the other years

    • marcofratelli profile image

      marcofratelli 8 years ago from Australia

      Hey Cindy! Yes, I like having no electricity for a time as well - but as long as I still get to go online and play my keyboard! Solar chargers? I might look into that actually. When there's no electricity and it's dark outside all we usually do is gather in one room and I bring out the acoustic guitar and rattle off some tunes or write my own based on the situation or recent events. :)

    • cindyvine profile image

      Cindy Vine 8 years ago from Cape Town

      I love having no electricity for a time, but then how do you charge your digital camera? I've just bought solar chargers to do just that!

    • marcofratelli profile image

      marcofratelli 8 years ago from Australia

      Cheers JPSO138! Thanks for dropping by - and make sure you're prepared (just in case LOL)

    • JPSO138 profile image

      JPSO138 8 years ago from Cebu, Philippines, International

      I never thought of these things. Well, it has really made me appreciate of the the things that we take for granted. Great hub!

    • marcofratelli profile image

      marcofratelli 8 years ago from Australia

      Thanks for visiting MITB! LOL. I thought we were all going to die during slight turbulence on a plane! Living without electricity in the short term during a blackout is one thing, but it's worse when you're going through a hurricane as well, plus the outage is long term!

    • MITB profile image

      MITB 8 years ago

      I remember losing electricity when a Hurricane breezed by our island. I thought it was the end of the world...I was 8 years old :)

    • hnyaji profile image

      hnyaji 8 years ago

      I can't live without electricity!

    • Princessa profile image

      Wendy Iturrizaga 8 years ago from France

      Isn't it amazing how we just take for granted all those things. Only when we do not have them we realize how lost we are. We used to have lots of electricity cuts in Peru during the 80s and we somehow learnt to live with it. Not long ago we had an electricity cut in France during a storm and it reminded me how dependant I've become in all the appliances I use in a daily basis.

      Thumbs ups for a great hub!