Surviving Off-Grid When Extreme Weather Hits
By Sally Keys
Living off the grid requires being in tune with nature. Solid preparation and an understanding of your environment can go a long way toward ensuring that your off-grid life is a safe one. But unfortunately, the future is uncertain and the only thing we can be sure of is that it will become more uncertain. The San Francisco Department of Public Health warns the Bay Area that instead of our current 10 days a year over 85°F we will soon start to face 90 a year. A few years ago any day over 100°F was considered an exception, but days like these will become increasingly familiar. Wild, unpredictable storms are going to become more frequent events with an 11% increase in monsoon-like storms.
The Primary Off-Grid Survival Requirements
Living off the grid means making many of your own rules and taking more responsibility for your own safety. Unlike those who live in cities and rely upon society as a whole to protect them, we need to have a greater awareness of the risks we face and how to overcome them. First and foremost you need to remember what is important: Shelter, water, food, and warmth. Possessions are just things and things can be replaced but without those four key needs being fulfilled, you will die. Off-grid, it’s vital to ensure your main home is as secure as you can make it, but also that you have a backup plan to ensure you’ll have shelter, water, food, and warmth if the worst happens.
Preparing for Disaster
Where do you go if a hurricane is barreling toward your home? If the local river bursts its banks will your house be high enough to avoid flooding? If your generator breaks down during a deep freeze do you have alternative sources of light, heat, and energy for cooking? Before going any further you need to take a realistic look at your living arrangements and decide how it will stand up to the worst the world can throw at it. If it can’t then the time to prepare is now. Make a list of where you fall short and rectify. No basement? Build a shelter in your yard that can withstand a hurricane. In a flood zone? Can your loft be prepared as an emergency living space? Can you fit a boat in there too?
None of the big things are any good unless the small ones have been taken care of first. Even if you’re already off grid, you need to consider if you’re ready to survive when you are truly cut off. When you are preparing, assume that you’ll be alone for at least two weeks. Prepare survival bags or boxes and make sure they are in the most useful place at all times. If you are worried about floods, move the survival kit higher. If strong winds are a concern, move the kit inside the shelter. You can make all the preparations in the world but if the kit isn’t there when you need it, it won’t help.
What Goes in an Off-Grid Survival Kit?
What do you absolutely need? Shelter, water, food and warmth. Your kit needs to provide this. Every person in the home needs a gallon of water a day. If you are using dried food you will need to increase the volume of water you store. Do you have fuel stored? Will it work in all conditions? Have you got tools to make shelters? Have you remembered emergency foil blankets and layers of clothes? Do not assume your boxes will remain intact or free from moisture. Use zip lock bags to keep everything dry and remember to periodically rotate out old food and batteries.
Preparation also includes knowledge. The more warning you have of a natural disaster coming the more you can do to prepare. If the first you hear of a hurricane is when it picks up your front fence you’ll be stuck with whatever you can grab on your way to the shelter. If you’ve had hours to prepare you’ll be able to gather your possessions, lock them down, board up your windows and move more than just your survival food to the shelter. Using an emergency weather radio is a useful way to receive alerts when you need them – especially a multi-purpose emergency weather radio.
Off-grid living can be extremely rewarding, but it comes new responsibilities. By “unplugging,” you accept that it is not enough to rely on the safety nets of society and it is up to you to ensure that you have prepared in advance for the worst case scenario. Your survival plan is not something you’ll ever want to use, but it is something you’ll be thankful you have should the worst ever hit.
Sally Keys is a professional freelance writer with many years of experience across many different areas. She made the move to freelancing from a stressful corporate job and loves the work-life balance it offers her. When not at work, Sally enjoys reading, hiking, spending time with her family, and traveling as much as possible.