With the exponential rise of technology consuming our lives and the constant need to be available to answer anyone at any time of the day, off the grid living has been appealing to more people. Being off the grid can be very liberating at first thought, but if you’re truly off the grid, what dangers could you be exposed to that modern technology has lessened?
Off the grid living can be dangerous for many people, especially those dependent on technology for so long. People have successfully and safely lived off the grid for centuries, but it isn’t something to jump into, and people should gradually transition into off the grid living if they want to.
While off the grid living can be appealing, even for a day, or a week, people’s dependence on technology and the modern way of living can impede them from safely living off the grid. Knowing how to live off the grid and come to terms with some potential drawbacks is vital for off the grid living to be safe.
Also see: Where Can You Live Off-Grid in Texas? 5 Great Locations
What is Off the Grid Living Exactly?
Many office workers daydream about even a day away from phones always going off and being tethered to a desk, working a monotonous work schedule. Most people think “off the grid” means no longer using cell phones or the internet, but truly living off the grid is living without much more.
Living off the grid requires you not to be dependent on any public utilities. Many people who live off the grid had found ways to adapt and help them have functional lives, similar to when they lived “on the grid.” Some things that you give up when living off the grid are:
- Electricity and natural gas, and without electricity and natural gas, you can lose lights, phones, internet, video games, computer, heating, cooling.
- Water, without clean water, staying hydrated can be dangerous.
- Sanitation, without sanitation, you have nowhere to bring your garbage, using the bathroom can pose a health risk.
Why Off the Grid Living Can be Dangerous
Without many of these public utilities, living off the grid can potentially become dangerous. Most people who live off the grid live in remote homes or communities, away from cities and food sources, as well as hospitals. People who live off the grid need to learn how to survive without public utilities or already know how to.
Living off the grid is the most dangerous when you do not know how to survive without public utilities. Before living off the grid, you should try it out and research how you would like to live off the grid.
Living Without Public Electricity and Natural Gas
Electricity has brought almost the entire world lighting, computers, the internet, phones, and almost everything we use daily. People’s reliance on public electricity is something that many take for granted. As long as you pay your electric bill, you’ll have power in your home.
Living off the grid requires you to ditch public electricity and either go without or create your electricity. This can pose a problem in several different ways:
|Extreme temperatures||Electricity helps heat and cool homes prevent people from getting sick or dying from extreme temperatures.|
|Food storage||Electricity helps preserve and store food in refrigerators and freezers. If you don’t have electricity, food will spoil faster unless adequately preserved, which will increase your chances of food-borne illnesses.|
Living Without Public Water
A major deciding factor for most people who relocate when choosing to live off the grid is how close they are to water. We need water for staying hydrated and cleaning, cooking, bathing, and growing food. When going off the grid, public water is unavailable, and you will have to collect and clean water yourself. Some reasons this can be dangerous are:
|Freshwater isn’t always clean||Runoff from farms and compost systems can contaminate the water with bacteria that can make people sick. Governments have also been known to dump toxic waste into the land and water without it being reported.|
|Saltwater||Saltwater needs to be desalinated to become drinkable and usable. It isn’t a good option for watering plants either.|
|Droughts||Droughts are becoming more common, and even during severe droughts, public water systems struggle to maintain efficiency, causing water rationing.|
Here is an excellent list of toxins that can be found in private wells and natural water. It isn’t just limited to those toxins because scientists and lawyers are discovering more toxins in the water every year.
Living Without Public Sanitation
While most people who live off the grid can successfully live a zero-waste lifestyle, public sanitation’s absence can cause many problems for people who live off the grid and the environment, such as:
|Improper or inadequate garbage disposal||You don’t have anywhere safe to throw out any garbage that you have. This can lead to more pollution unless you go zero waste or bring your trash to a private facility. This can also attract dangerous wildlife if you live in a remote area.|
|Improper sewage disposal||Not knowing how to dispose of human waste can damage crops and contaminate water supplies.|
Psychological and Physical Dangers While Off the Grid
Going off the grid can be liberating; however, some have difficulties adapting and dealing without technology. If someone lives off the grid and doesn’t live in a community, they can have different psychological disorders related to isolation, such as depression and anxiety.
Another potential danger for living off the grid is if something happens to you and you’re also in a remote area, medical help is probably a far cry away and might not get to you in time, especially if you don’t live in a community.
This also goes with if something happens to a family member. If you choose not to have a phone, you might not find out until someone can physically tell you.
Living Without a Supermarket
Living off the grid requires someone to be completely self-sustainable and not reliant on public services, including grocery stores. Growing crops, hunting, and fishing are ideal options for living off the grid, mainly because you control what food you are eating and what goes into your food. There are some dangers to living this way, including:
- Eating sick animals that you didn’t know were sick when you hunted them. Here’s an excellent guide on how to tell if your game is good to eat.
- Eating improperly preserved or spoiled food can give you many food-borne illnesses, including botulism. Here’s an excellent guide on how to properly jar food to preserve it.
Choosing to Live Off the Grid
How someone chooses to live off the grid depends on the reasons they decide to. People choose to live off the grid for many reasons, including:
- Reducing environmental impact and carbon footprint
- Reducing monthly expenses
- Lack of access to public utilities
- Unreliable public utilities
- Survivalists and preppers
Committing to Off the Grid Living
Once you choose to live off the grid, it’s probably best to transition slowly so you can learn how to adapt to living without public utilities. Some methods to transition to living off the grid are:
- Going on an off-the-grid vacation at least once a month for some time to test it out.
- Go step-by-step, reducing your reliance on public utilities while learning how to go off the grid.
If you’ve enjoyed your transition to living off the grid, you’re most likely looking to commit to living off the grid. Once you’ve decided to make this change, you may or may not want to tell at least one trusted family member or friend, mostly for your safety and for someone to check in on you, especially if you choose not to have a phone.
Even if you choose not to live off the grid, you can still reap some of the benefits from being off the grid to take time away and have off the grid vacations.
Off the Grid Adaptations for Safety
Living off the grid doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Many people who live off the grid have found ways to adapt without public utilities and create their energy and sanitation sources. Some things people have done for utilities are:
- Electricity and natural gas: solar panels, hydropower, wind power, burning waste, and natural geothermal energy, generators with diesel fuel.
- Water: catching rainwater, pumping from wells, collecting river water, and testing the water for cleanliness and purity. If it isn’t clean, there are many ways to clean water and make it safe to drink. Many people also choose to use gray water filtration systems to use water efficiently. It’s also suggested to use low-flow plumbing fixtures to make water last longer.
- Sanitation: Using a gray and black water septic tank to store and treat wastewater before sending it back into the ground.
- Phones and communication: satellite phones and internet are available for computers in areas that have service available. Radios are also a great option to know if any storms are coming in.
- Food: learn how to grow and cultivate food, as well as to hunt and fish. You should also learn how to can, dehydrate, and preserve food, especially if food supplies become scarce.
Having most of these adaptations and becoming self-sufficient for your utilities is the most significant way to safely live off the grid. You will also have to learn how to use everything properly or be able to have contact with someone in case something goes wrong with the machinery to help you.
Living Off the Grid in a City or the Suburbs
Living off the grid in a city or the suburbs is not impossible. Many people don’t commit to being entirely off the grid and have strict rules on when they use public utilities or use just one public utility.
Many people who live off the grid in cities and suburbs grow their food, using their yard and rooftops for gardening and raising small livestock, like chickens.
Before deciding to go off the grid in the suburbs or the city, make sure to check with your town that you don’t need special permits, and if you are in a Homeowner’s Association, the adaptations you plan to make to your home are allowed.
While many communities have safely lived off the grid for centuries, there are still many potential dangers to living off the grid, especially if you do not know what you are doing or choose to live alone. Try and learn about off the grid living before committing.