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Beginner Steps: Off Grid For Weekend

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posted on Sep, 24 2007 @ 10:54 AM
I announced to my family my plan for a short practice run one weekend with absolutely no electricity, heating gas, no water/sewage use.
I got quite an excited reaction to say the least... LOL
I'm looking for some clear goals for that weekend for the entire family.
With work and holiday demands I have set January or February as the month for the practice drill.
Some goals are to be able to start a reliable fire in our wood burning stove downstairs; potty facilities, meal preparation, keeping warm.
For the kids there are goals like some basic first aid drills and the ability to light an oil lamp and ration water.
Rather than scare the kids I chose a natural disaster event and our goal is to survive a weekend without all the things we take for granted.
We have very little experience with camping (I haven't camped or hiked in decades) and we don't have a lot of things set aside yet. This is something I am working on.
What should we be keeping in mind for planning? (Beginner level, ok)

posted on Sep, 24 2007 @ 02:16 PM
It's someting i have been thinking of trying for a little while myself, so i will be watchign this thread with interest.

I see you're planning to do this early next year, do you live in a place that is in the grip of winter in these months. Having been left without heating or electric during a cold snap it can be a pretty miserable experiance. If your family is up for it then fair enough, but you don't want to scare them off by going in too deep.

For starters try to get everyone enthuseastic about the whole scenario ypu don't want to push it too far the first time and put everyone off.

I'm gonna think about this overnight and get back to you with what i think you could try out.

posted on Sep, 24 2007 @ 02:47 PM
In answer to the weather question; yes we have very cold winters here.
Last winter we had what seemed like three months of zero degrees outside. My house has a mostly finished basement with a wood burning stove and there will be four of us plus three pets.
(According to my heating bill, January is the coldest month of the year.)
I chose two days to start; so it's less scary and stressful going through tv and computer withdrawls. I don't know that we'd be ready for a full blown week or two.
At this point I have enough food for a month and enough water for one week. (Keep in mind I am new to this preparation idea). This includes the pets.
It will be my goal for all of us to go at least one week (hot weather) and one week (cold weather) each year without any utilities or amenities as a regularly practiced drill.
I will pick a weather related disaster out of a jar and then we all react according to the situation. After we have several experiences at this I will introduce maybe something more sinister as a scenario to drill.
Two days allows for six meals, water rationing, use of primitive potties, living in close quarters without creature comforts, practice of basic first aid skills (there will be mock wounds such as cuts and scrapes), control of the pets, keeping warm in the winter, and monitor the radios for information.
Keeping warm will be the greatest challenge.
What else should be include for our first drill?
I'm a bit surprised at how nervous and yet excited everyone is. The three year old doesn't understand but the nine year old is thrilled.

posted on Sep, 24 2007 @ 03:14 PM
I'd make it like a game. Keep it as festive as possible. Maybe get a few board games. I keep an assortment of the travel type board games.

Do you sometimes have extended power outages due to weather or ice? Maybe you could welcome that as an unexpected drill and that way you're not the bad guy telling them they can't watch tv or use the bathroom.

Each year in the winter months many people die in house fires or from carbon monoxide poisoning. This is usually because they are trying to do things using unconventional methods. Think things through before you choose your method. I almost carbon monoxided (is that a word?) myself and my family many years ago. It can happen to anyone. My daughters cat woke her up.

I got mad at the power company years ago and told them to get their wires off my house. I built a generator and went off grid for over 3 years. I learned an awful lot of what not to do during that time. I'm preparing to go off grid again permanently when I can get everything in order. Good thread Jules. I'll check back.


posted on Sep, 24 2007 @ 03:44 PM
Sounds like an excellent way to entertain the kids for a weekend too

maybe you could turn it into an adventure game with rewards at the end for solving problems and the like...sort of like a survival D&D?

At a certain point in the day, to simulate an added event you could have a few sets of side-scenarios where a dice has to be rolled such as..."You roll a 4: The generator starts to make a rattling sound then stops dead from a mechanical failure. What do you do?"

A twist of fate from a dice roll would add a fun chance element to adapt to the the unpredictable

posted on Sep, 24 2007 @ 04:01 PM
Exactly! That's the right idea for what I am looking for. I don't want to scare the crud out of the kids, I'd like to make this type of adaption very second nature for all of us. The less traumatic the better for now.
I'd like the kids help pick "What If" tasks for the adults; and vice versa so we all get to practice different things.
On a limited budget we haven't been able to buy camping gear or go places so this will be pretty much indoor camping for us all. Literally we don't have a lot of gear. I can buy a couple of items per month but something snazzy like a generator is quite a ways away.
I'm really curious to see how an average American family can handle a weekend without all the niceties we are accustomed to. Just going without the computer will give us all hives I'm sure.

posted on Sep, 24 2007 @ 04:45 PM
My first generator was one that I built. I had an old piece of a riding lawn mower carcass that I'd bought for almost nothing at a yard sale. The motor still ran good and there was enough of the frame left for there to be something to mount everything to. I also had an old Toyota that my ex-wife had ran out of oil and ruined the engine. I remembered reading somewhere in some magazine that if you took a car alternator and worked out a way to spin it at about 4000 rm it would produce 120 volts DC. I can tell you first hand that that works. It's DC though and not AC. It would run light bulbs and motors with brushes like a drill or a hand mixer but not inductance motors (the kind that need capacitors to run) like well pumps or most comfort system air handlers. It also won't run refrigeration compressors. You do need 12vdc to excite the field windings though or it won't produce any electricity. I always thought that maybe if I removed the diodes and replaced them with either straight wires or resistors I would be able to produce AC power but I never got around to experimenting with that. These days I'm more interested in solar.

posted on Sep, 24 2007 @ 09:56 PM
Two days will be easy. I was an avid camper when I had money (in other words, before I moved out of my parent's house and started having bills to pay). 2 days off the grid is camping, but in a more comfortable shelter.

I don't believe there was ever a single trip I went on where I remembered everything, but me and my friends always did just fine. Most people who fear economic collapse would be amazed at just how easy it is to get by without electricity, running water, and so-on.

As for tips, yeah I have a few. When starting your fire, remember it's difficult to get a log burning so start with paper and kindling. Make sure your house is ventilated properly, fire in an enclosed, unventilated building will poison you with the gases it releases.

If it's going to be COLD when you do this, try limiting the number of rooms in your house that you are using. This will give your wood stove a smaller area to heat, thus conserving wood.

For a good light source that won't burn your house down, consider LED light sources (if batteries aren't off limits). They use less energy than regular bulbs. This isn't a huge deal for a 2 day experiment, but it's a great bit of knowledge for long-term preperation. An idea I read on another forum was to get ahold of a few of those garden lights with solar chargers build into them, they'll last ages and the batteries can be removed once charged and then put into anything you need them for.

If you are planning on ditching batteries and only using that oil lantern, REMEMBER FIRE SAFETY. Keep the smoke alarm on and a fire extinguisher nearby. No sense in losing your home over a practice run!

Consider getting a crank radio. I have one of those all-in-one units that has a radio, flashlight, siren, and cell phone charger as one unit. Good ones will give you an hour or so of light for a minute or less of cranking. Also, the crank ones are quieter and easier to use than the ones you have to shake. Anyways, these are not only good for a long-lasting light source but the radio can give you entertainment for your weekend (not to mention information in a real disaster.)

Board games are also good entertainment, and entertainment is a must if you don't want your kids to murder you in your sleep for all this. I suggest a game called "Love it or Hate It," if spending money on a new game is in your budget. It's freakin hilarious. If you get really bored, try inventing a board game. Maybe you can market it afterwards and end up so rich you'll be part of the NWO instead of enslaved by it.. hehe j/k.

posted on Sep, 24 2007 @ 10:15 PM
thats much better than my dad he was ahrscore survivalist even before 9/11 we used to have drills where we stayed in the house for 72 hours sealed the windows put on gas masks and survived on a 72 hour kit with like pudding and beef jerky and bottled water.....i thought ti was fun at the time

posted on Sep, 25 2007 @ 12:37 AM
Outstanding ideas and views, thankyou so much.

I am making notes and will keep watching for more sugestions.
Definately will get a couple of fire extinguishers, a carbon monoxide detector, and that board game that was mentioned.
My Things Needed list is so lengthy because we don't have that much to begin with, so I'll be working on my Master List every week.

posted on Sep, 25 2007 @ 05:31 AM
reply to post by julesmac8

Just a thought but maybe you could incorporate a storytime for your kids that keeps with the 'survival' theme that you could read to in particular that I'd recommend and that your 9yo would love is The Silver amazing tale of adventure, hardship, and family

posted on Sep, 25 2007 @ 05:49 AM
Those crank flashlight radio combos are a great idea. If you are in a bad situation, you keep turning off the light and radio because you are conserving battery power, the worry of running out can make you miss info or be unhappy in the dark. That is even if you have spares, your mind keeps saying, I might run out.

Crank it up and let it sing. No worries.

I use to do drills like this when I was a starving student, but it was the electrical/phone company's billing department that decided on the timing

[edit on 25-9-2007 by Redge777]

posted on Sep, 25 2007 @ 06:57 AM
I think there is a very good idea. We had a winter here a couple of years back. Might even have been three, where we had the ice storm. Took out a lot of peoples power and they were left trying to get supplies at the local stores. Powere was out for several days .

We were one of the lucky ones this time. Might not be so lucky next time. It's always a good idea to practice so when something does happen it's easier to put into play and as far as getting the kids used to different scenarios, unfortunantly it's the world we live in now and might as well prepare them for their future. I can't see it as being any better.

posted on Sep, 25 2007 @ 07:23 AM
Tremendous idea!
I think this would be a great experience for you and your family.
Always remember to keep the mood light. I think if the kids become accustomed to the game, they wont panic if the pratice becomes real. I have never heard a person say that they have regretted learning skills as a child. This sounds like a good weekend experience. The wheels are already turning in my head as to what I would do.

Please keep a journal of the weekend and perhaps share some of the highlights with us.

have a good time

posted on Sep, 25 2007 @ 08:03 AM
I've done this twice in the last 3 years. Fortunately, I have a small generator thet can run my fridge and freezer, so my food doesn't go bad. I am an avid survivalist and outdoorsman.

The best way to prepare to shelter in place is when you go grocery shopping look for the store brand canned foods. Very cheap, usually something like 5 for a dollar or so. Green beans, corn, and soup are great to keep in the pantry since they won't go bad for years and they're good to have for those hard times, like when my work is slow and I need to concentrate on paying the mortgage. Powdered and condensed milk are also good to have around. For a weekend scenario, flashlights and a good crank radio are also nice.

Just try to make it an adventure for the kids while you concentrate on what you would do in an actual emergency. Having a stocked bugout bag is also a good idea in case you would need to get your family out. Bottled water is a must have item. As long as you take it seriously and your kids enjoy it, this type of thing will become second nature and won't start a panic in the family if it is ever for real.

Good luck!!!!


posted on Sep, 25 2007 @ 09:32 AM

Originally posted by citizen smith
At a certain point in the day, to simulate an added event you could have a few sets of side-scenarios where a dice has to be rolled such as..."You roll a 4: The generator starts to make a rattling sound then stops dead from a mechanical failure. What do you do?"

A twist of fate from a dice roll would add a fun chance element to adapt to the the unpredictable

lmao, that was my plan for real-life.

"The Soda can machine has 16 DP for action (Buy Soda)"
"0mega rolls 5d6.... 4....6...2.....4.....2.. = 18"
"0mega succeeds in buying can of Soda"

posted on Sep, 25 2007 @ 11:20 AM
Hey Jules

Kudo's on your plan and rehearsal being that you have kids I might suggest
games of one kind or another so when they get bored you can comfort them with some board games or whatever (I don't have kids) or possibly a good book to pass the time as a family I think that with activities like this you will even take a few things that you do back to your daily life with power and amenities.

Also please use one piece of technology since it is your first go
A carbon monoxide detector would be a good idea since you will be using a wood burner..

Again Kudo's on your plan my fiance and I have a plan for home for work and pretty much everywhere we both have packs hers stays in the car I work from home so mine is here with me and I take it when we go somewhere far enough away that I can not make it here in a day or less..
we have ham radios, solar panels and so on and so forth.. at any rate you get the point we may be even a little paranoid in our preparation but we feel safe..


posted on Sep, 25 2007 @ 11:41 AM
Citizen Smith I love the idea about books relevant to 'roughing it' and I will definately look for that book. I also have a classic 'Swiss Family Robinson'. I'm thinking Stephen King's 'The Stand' is a bit much for her lol
Redge777 where did you get your crank radio? I've heard of a Baygen Freeplay (sp?) advertised on Coast to Coast am... I think it's a hundred bucks... (better save my nickels for that one)
WarPig I've done a lot to shelter my kids from the realities of the world but lately I have begun to think that's not feasible anymore. I don't want to scare them to death but it's time to be prepared about the realities of the state of the world.
Shadow Watcher great idea about the journal that way I can keep notes for what works and what doesn't.
cw0203 are generators run on gasoline?? What is the rough price range for a generator that would fit the needs of a family for say one week?
Thankyou everyone!!

posted on Sep, 25 2007 @ 11:44 AM
Geo I love the idea about the solar panels...where I live it's definately worth looking into. I had always been told that they were too expensive and that they would take a long time to pay for themselves but maybe they have become more affordable?? A Carbon Monoxide detector is definately on my list.


posted on Sep, 25 2007 @ 12:22 PM
they can run on anything from gasoline to natural gas. The one that I have cost about 600 dollars and runs on gasoline. you can get smaller ones that are less expensive to run, say you're fridge. There are also whole home generators that genaerally run on propane or natural gas, but they're way out of my price range. Mine will run 12 hours at half load and 6 to 8 on a full load. What I put on it usually only takes half load, fridge and freezer.

A decent generator will make your life a whole lot easier in a power outage. I like to keep about 18 gallons of gas on hand in case we need the generator for an extended period of time.

They'll run as long as you have the gas to put in 'em. Remember, have fun with your drill but take it seriously at the same time.

Again, good luck and let us know how it goes.

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