Take a moment to look around your home. How many of the tools and appliances you use every day rely on electricity? And could you manage without them if the power went off? In a crisis you might have to do exactly that.
Many preppers have plans to generate their own electricity in a crisis, whether that’s by using wind turbines or firing up the trusty old generator, but realistically you’re unlikely to be producing as much electricity as we’re all used to using.
In a survival situation electricity will be a luxury, something that can only be used for the essentials. If you don’t want life to become a lot more difficult it’s good to have – and be able to use – alternatives to electrical devices.
Here are some of the electricity-free items every prepper should have.
Cooking is one of the biggest energy consumers in a modern home, and post-SHTF life will be a lot easier if you don’t have to keep your stove supplied with electricity. Luckily there are alternatives.
A propane stove doesn’t rely on power, and you can stockpile extra gas canisters for it, but once you run out of propane there’s no way to make more yourself.
The ultimate prepper stove is a wood burner. Fueled by a renewable resource you can harvest yourself, it’ll keep you cooking for life. If you want a kitchen that doesn’t rely on electricity, this is the way to go.
Wood is a great resource for cooking and heating – but how are you going to cut it without power tools?
A gas-powered chainsaw is a great tool, but if society collapses gas supplies won’t last forever.
A good old-fashioned saw will, though.
Combined with an ax for felling, and some wedges for splitting logs, you’ll be able to turn trees into fuel for as long as you need to.
If your meat is coming from game or your own livestock, the butcher won’t be grinding it from you. If you want to turn your cow into hamburger you’re going to have to do it yourself. A hand-cranked meat grinder is an excellent investment.
Simple to use, sturdy enough to last several lifetimes and pretty versatile, too – with the right attachment you can drop chunks of meat in the top and crank them out straight into sausage casings.
Do you get your water from a well on your property?
That’s great – you’re secure from a disaster that takes out public utilities. Well, you’re secure as long as you can get the water out of the ground, and what will you do when your electric pump stops working?
An electric pump just makes sense. Water is heavy, lifting it out the ground isn’t a lot of fun, and if an electric motor can take care of it for you, why not? It’s good to have an old-fashioned hand pump as a backup, though. That way, if the electricity does go off you can still use your well.
If you’re building or repairing anything the chances are that, pretty soon, you’ll need to drill a hole.
An electric drill is the easiest way to do that – but it’ll stop working as soon as the power goes off, and the battery in a cordless one won’t last long either. An old-fashioned hand drill will keep going forever, though.
In fact they’re a good tool to have anyway, because while they’re slower and take more effort than a power drill they’re also more precise. There are two options – an eggbeater-style drill or a brace and bit.
Our ancestors mostly went to bed early and got up at dawn. That’s because they had to; without proper lighting there isn’t a lot you can really do after the sun goes down. If you want to make the best use of your time in a crisis, you need to light up your home. A few good old-fashioned hurricane lanterns and a drum of kerosene will do that for you.
Look for lanterns that use a round wick – they’re three or four times as bright as ones with a flat wick. The light from a kerosene lantern is nothing like electric lighting, but it will let you get around the house, cook and even read perfectly well.
If you want really efficient non-electric lighting, look at Coleman-style pressure lamps. These burn naphtha or unleaded gasoline; they’re more expensive than hurricane lanterns but produce steady, bright light.
The modern world is built on communications. We talk to people by email or text message. We do our shopping and banking on the internet. You’re even reading this article online.
Now imagine all those communications being shut down because there’s no power anymore.
Well, when the 21st century’s communications go down you can’t replace them – but you can set up a network that will let you talk from your house to the barn, to the house next door, even to other preppers a couple of miles away. All you need is some twin-core wire and old military field telephones – the older, the better.
Modern field telephones are pretty sophisticated instruments, but some older ones are so simple they don’t even need a battery; just talking into them generates enough current to activate the circuit.
If you can get your hands on American TA-1 phones, or the British Telephone, Field, SP, or even the ex-Soviet TP-3, you can set up a simple but reliable and effective phone network that doesn’t need a power source.
And don’t worry if you end up with a mixed bag of military surplus phones; all those old sound-powered models are so simple they can talk to each other just fine.
If the power goes off, our lives are going to change. There’s no way to avoid that; we just use too much electricity, for too many things, to carry on the same way without it. We can survive without it, though – and collecting some of these electricity-free gadgets before the crisis hits will make that a lot easier.
This article first appeared on Ask A Prepper.
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