July 6, 2012

Off Grid

Are you ready for when the lights go out?
For two decades my sister has chosen to live off grid in a log cabin in the woods. Although her family has had the benefit of a gas-powered generator, in recent years their main source of power has been the sun.

Tucked into a forested hillside overlooking Kootenay Lake, they are little effected by extreme weather or other nasty events. They are self-sufficient, which isolates them from the vagaries of depending on the regular power grid and other utilities.

Most of us, however, are not as prepared for off-grid living. Around the world people are involuntarily getting a taste of what it is like as extreme weather becomes more commonplace. Recent violent storms in the US that knocked out the power to millions are just one example.

During the last week of June, there was torrential rain and flash floods in the UK, drought in Korea, and heavy rains and flooding in Nigeria. Climate change scientists are predicting increased levels of extreme weather around the world.

In the US, 82 percent of Americans report that they personally experienced one or more types of extreme weather or natural disaster in the past year. But how many have a plan for being off grid and sustaining themselves for a day or two... or more?

55% of Americans report that they have thought, some (38%) or a great deal (17%), about preparing for a natural disaster. However, only 36% have an emergency plan that all members of their family know about, and an emergency supply kit in their home (37%).

It doesn't matter where in the world one lives, preparing for off-grid living can only be of benefit.

First of all, having a plan in place means you are prepared for extreme weather events or natural disasters. You can weather the storm in relative comfort and without panic or fear.

Secondly, any preparation done for emergency self-sufficiency will also prepare us for a future where cheap energy is ancient history, and life has become much simpler and less power intensive.

We should be ready for life without television, toasters, air conditioners, microwave ovens, and other energy drawing gadgets.

My sister has been living without these conveniences for two decades, and like her, we may find that we enjoy life more without them.

Preparing For Emergency Off Grid Living

Some basic things to consider in an emergency plan are: 
  • storage of 4 liters (1 gallon) of water per person per day minimum, and/or purchase water purification system, mechanical or chemical
  • a well stocked pantry (enough to keep your family fed for a minimum of 3 days - a week, but preferably longer)
  • wind up flashlights, lanterns, and radio
  • alternative cooking method
  • alternative heat source if in cold climate
  • first aid kit
  • a small, portable solar panel and power pack
  • a severed water connection means having to plan for human waste disposal 
  • candles (reading by candlelight can be quite enjoyable)


  1. Anonymous7/06/2012

    Timely post! I've been thinking more seriously about preparedness lately. There are thousands without power in my state of Ohio as I write.

    Also, not sure what your parents did to make their children so mindful, but good job!

    1. My parents were rebels, and they raised 5 little rebels. We were also taught that service to others is the highest calling.

      How is your preparedness program going?


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