: in response to your "I think most people are afraid of the quiet- is that why they make so much noise themselves??" I think there's a lot of truth to that. I was really curious about your method of washing in a stream like that, especially during the winter. I've always had a hard time getting clothes clean by hand when the water is cold. What's your trick?
: I did that energy bar thing too. It's great for the short term. For long term, the problems that MREs have pop up. I'd be really interested to hear more about the hammock camp you made up, even though it's technically not about electricity and I might be tempting the topic to veer off to that. Yeah, music is life. Survival isn't life. The means is not the ends. (By the way, congrats on defeating that situation. I've stalked many a post of yours over the years as helpful to me!)
: "Something to consider if talking about a post collapse situation: many would die from different diseases." I agree. You've got a good, realistic perspective on that. At the risk of potentially going slightly off topic (sorry ^^; ) it's true that many people don't currently have habits established that would keep disease from being a greater problem in any kind of collapse situation. How to wash your hands, if the water pumps aren't on, or water is contaminated, for example. Health is a group effort. Just one person coming in to work gets the whole office sick if things aren't sanitized. Just one person in the grocery store not wearing a cough mask makes for a potential flu outbreak.
But before that, is all the otherwise currently healthy people who rely on medications to keep them alive. Like me, for my dead thyroid. Like those O2 users. Then, there's to consider the many people on mood stabilizing medications. Those medications work, are prescribed for a reason. But a short interruption can have a dramatic result.
Most of us don't have access to more than a short term quantity of their meds. When it's time for me to refill mine, I have three days worth left. That seems like a bad idea, even for just normal potential crises, like from bad weather, interrupting services. But it's not a choice up to us, so it makes me wonder what things related to that CAN be up to us. Not taking medication so a person can have a stockpile isn't the kind of thing I mean, since it defeats the purpose by introducing the problem.
(Well, if the pharmacy's computer system is offline due to electricity down, then it is on topic...
: I can't tell you how many of your awesome posts have been of great help to me, personally. Thanks for your encouragement. When I try to share my experience, sometimes it turns into a rambling mess, so I try to avoid talking most of the time, but I'll give it a shot:
I must admit...many of these sorts of experiences I've had, could have been avoided or at least significantly shortened, if I had dealt with them differently from the beginning. Fear, lack of practical knowledge (and just as importantly, experience using it), and hesitation/internal refusals to ask for help- in a lot of these situations, any of those could have taken care of things and got me back to "normal" a lot faster and with significantly less discomfort in many cases. I guess when someone says "living within one's means" it includes what you're willing or able to do for yourself, including what you can do for yourself by way of asking for help from others. (Or not.)
One of the main take-aways I realized was some uncomfortable self-knowledge: When stuff is stressful, I get scared, and when I get scared, I "have" to figure out all the things without help. Like no one else in the world exists except for me, because if I can't fix it, no one can. Apparently. And I can't argue myself out of it with logic even as I know it's happening.
"No, I just have to deal with it; if someone knows I can't, it'll be worse than it is now" is a cognitive issue that I have since noticed other people have in stressful unusual situations, as well. Not just me. Anywhere where someone feels helpless or ignorant, maybe. Fear is powerful and it can't be reasoned with.
I guess that's why the other, bigger, take-away I have from (relatively) short-term life upsets/emergencies I've gone through would be: "you don't know what you ACTUALLY have if you've never used it; you don't know what you actually know if you've never DONE it." The knowledge that fear makes me dig in my heels and be stupid, there's only so much I can do about, except acknowledge it before it takes place... but knowing for sure what's what is something I CAN actually make a difference with anytime, even when things aren't good and "I can't ask for help."
A random example of knowing what you have, I can give right off the top of my head, from during those months in the winter. Knowing what I had wasn't inventory, so much as utility, in this case:
I'd bought a pair of ridiculously thick wool socks. They were too thick to fit inside my normal shoes when I wore them, so I never used them. But I kept them because: "I know wool is warm. Wool is warm even when it's wet! Thick socks are also warm. Therefore, if I keep these socks for emergencies even though I don't use them now, when my feet are exceptionally cold, if I wear them, my feet will be warm."
The logic fail was that I didn't ever test my theory that "the socks" were actually warm. So when I had no heat and I was freezing, the first thing I thought was "I know what people have said. I never tested it myself, but I trust the advice. The advice will be right. Let's put on those thick socks and my feet will be warm so fast." But yeah. No. They were freezing cold. They just could not hold the heat in. Those socks were even worse than thin cotton ones designed for summer use. I still don't even know how it was physically possible for such thick wool socks to be so freezing cold and inept at keeping heat in; it defies all logic. But that's that. I didn't know what I had.
The advice failed me because I didn't test it myself. There were a lot of things like that.
"It's cold inside my home, so that means my refrigerator will work better." Failed.
"If I wear loose clothes in layers, I'll be warmer than wearing something directly against my skin plus layers." Failed.
"Survival blankets will keep me warm. I have one as a backup, so therefore I am coldproof against when it matters! Even if it's zero degrees out." Failed. (facepalm through face)
"This sweater will clearly be warmer than that sweater. So it's useless try the other one if this "good" one turns out not to be warm enough." Failed.
"Cold water cleans as well as warm or hot water, so it's fine if I don't heat it." Failed.
"If I bathe less, I'll be warmer because I have to undress less often. A little dirt will keep me warmer." Failed.
"My cans of soda, seltzer, or beer will be fine even if it's below freezing inside my home and they freeze, because they're in cans." Failed. (By the way, when those explode, they sometimes send sharp bits of can shrapnel across distances lol.)
"This is a good time to get a bunch of stuff done that I didn't have time or concentration for, when things were going well."
"I won't forget that I'm doing (thing I'm doing that can't be forgotten I'm doing, like heating water or burning a candle) and will go back to it before it's a safety hazard; I can just leave it for a moment. My memory is always sharp; cold and stress don't impact that." Failed.
"I should save (x) for when it's really
(cold, bad, dark, take your pick) instead of using it now, when it can help."
There were also a lot of things that were helpful to me, that I had at that time (that I haven't had during some other times.)
For instance, I was working full time and had a vehicle. That meant that during a good chunk of the day, I was at work. I often stayed as late at work as I could, which gave an additional bonus of getting more work done, which my employers appreciated, even more because I was happy to be there. There was a laundromat I could use only about 15 minutes away by car, so I didn't have to wash laundry by hand (which isn't fun and uses a lot of water.)
There was a nearby brook with clear, safe drinking water that I could have refilled my water jug using (I didn't; getting my hands splashed with frigid winter brook water, plus the line of people always waiting for it, convinced me quickly that spending the 50 cents a day on a room temperature gallon of water at the grocery store was a better choice.) And I could shop at the grocery store, as it was directly on the way home, so it didn't cost more gas for transportation.
My stovetop was gas-fueled, so even though the lighter was electric, I could light it manually with my own lighter and use it to boil water for sanitation reasons or for cooking rice/food. I had good drains that worked, that I could pour dirty water/fluids down (if liquids were of sufficient quantity and still suffiently warm, they wouldn't stick and freeze on the way down.) I had rooms I could close up in order to keep one smaller area warmer; the area I spent time in. And I had a lot of junk which I repurposed for the sake of keeping me as warm as I could manage.
A lot of the solutions I came up with I wouldn't do again if I had it to do over. Some of them worked well and I would do it the same way (if a better way wasn't obvious by then.)
Sleeping on the couch was warmer than sleeping on the bed. I wore my winter coat to bed, but having the extra side with fabric was a buffer that kept in more warmth.
If things didn't contain water, they didn't freeze. Things that froze, like laundry detergent, didn't thaw usably. I switched to powdered detergent. Once the weather got frigid, I couldn't safely or practically keep canned goods that contained water (if they contained oils instead, or were dehydrated, it was fine. Beans, rice, pasta, were all fine. Frozen soft fruits became like ice cream; frozen hard fruits became inedible.)
I couldn't make microwave dinners. I had to shop smaller amounts more often. I couldn't keep leftovers the way I could when my fridge and freezer were functioning. Washing dishes was more a metter of mess-prevention and scraping things off well. Fresh/food trash was let freeze or dry before going in the garbage bag.
I used a lot more washcloths (and towels) for everything that normally didn't need them. My few plants, including a huge aloe a friend had given me long ago, froze and then died. (If it had been small, maybe I could have brought it to work or gifted it to another friend...)
I had to keep my plastic-held water pretty close to me during the night, since my body was the heatmaker, and it was better if I could drink something in the morning rather than melt ice. Sometimes I would sleep with a bottle or two inside my bedding- made sure they didn't leak first.
The floor in the kitchen which was laminate, was a death sentence, so I only walked where there was carpet (or where I could put fabric down.)
I got my hands on some cheap foam sheets and plastered/taped/affixed them on all the windows or anywhere there was a draft, so as to keep whatever heat was in, kept in, as much as possible. (Speaking of tape, it doesn't work the same in cold conditions as room temperature conditions. Lots of things are so different when one little environment change happens.)
When I did aerobic style exercise in a small room for a half hour or more, it noticeably increased the temperature. (Maybe not everyone is a radiator like I am, but since I realized that was the effect before things got really cold, I had the motivation to keep it up even when it got real cold and I wanted to hibernate forever. I managed to increase the room temperature by 10 degrees a couple times.)
For hygiene, I had to do bed baths, one segment of body at a time, drying off between segments quickly, so that only small areas of my skin were wet and therefore losing heat from the damp, at a time. That, and so the washcloth wouldn't freeze. To wash hair, I heated water to boiling, then mixed it with the unheated water, to be tolerable (it cooled off real fast even when it started as scalding) and dunked my head in it in a large bowl. Lathered shampoo, rinsed it off using the bowl water. Bed baths need daily cleaning; it's not like showers where you can skip a day. I couldn't use a hair dryer. The tile on the bathroom floor was a heat vampire, so I'd only stand on the rug, and I kept the door closed (as well as all other doors) when I wasn't using it.
My hands were always cold and stiff from cold. I created a muff kind of thing from random fabric/clothes I had around, to bury them in and keep them warmed up in anytime I didn't need to use them for a specific task.
Flashlights (at least the cheap ones) don't work as well when they rely on batteries and it's freezing cold. And as everything was patched up with foam sheets, light even in the morning was indeed low on the totem pole. I don't recall exactly how I dealt with that beyond that I know I had a few decent candlestick holders (the kind you can carry) and I remember having to protect the flames when I would walk from room to room, from the "wind" generated by walking. I also remember that I'd used Shabbot candles I'd had lying around for that, lol. They worked nicely, and no purfume or unpleasant smoke.
I think I used some batery-powered light too. I remember having to warm batteries up by sticking them under my armpit (with an undershirt in the way but still... brr!) before they would work, in some cases. The light would dim as stuff froze back up. I recall that I slept with some things in my pants pockets (like my phone) so that the electronics wouldn't get damaged (though maybe it would have been fine; not sure, but didn't risk it.)
Not having electricity meant a lot of devices I use when things are normal and I have electric, didn't work.
Personal Heater/ AC unit / Electric fans
TV screen / DVD/Blu-ray Player / Satellite/Cable / Xbox/Playstation/Game system (unless you've got a laptop/portable game system that can do it and the battery is functioning and it's during a reasonable operation-temperature period)
Overhead lights / Electric nightlights
Rechargeable battery charger
Oven / Electric range
Electric Garage Door Opener
Running water - any (in many cases)
Toilet (manual flush will work for most models)
Electric razor / electric toothbrush / hair dryer
Electric alarm clock
Rice cooker / pressure cooker / slow cooker / electric griddle / coffee maker / blender / spice grinder / electric can opener / any cooking or kitchen appliance you plug in
Things were... quiet. (Like raptor said. Different sounds. Hearing more of sounds you don't normally hear and none of the usual white sounds blocking those other things out.) It took a while to get used to and be able to sleep without being tensed up.
And I'm sure I'm missing a few other things.
Of course, those are in a person's home. Outside of the home, loss of electricity- like due to a storm- may impact roads (branches; stoplights), stores (lights, electronic cash registers, credit and debit card readers, refrigeration and freezers in grocery stores), banks/ATMs (lights, withdrawals, manual deposits), gas stations (pumps, lights, registers), internet, gas, and other service providers can also be affected.
In individual cases, sometimes it's easier and less "expensive" to adapt to a situation than to fix it. Like if it "costs" more to admit you don't know how to do something and learn how/pay someone else to do it, than to do without it. But... if I'd had a pet relying on me for their safety at that point... there's no way I would have just tried to manage it myself.
Dunno if this huge long ramble is what you were actually asking for, but you got it. Maybe some part will be useful to someone. Or not. ...I might be better at specific questions than the pandora's box of "tell me more"