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Where Should You Go when the SHTF?

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after the SHTF

With the threats of doomsday scenario looming large, it’s high time we began looking for the best and the safest places to move out to. We cannot deny the multiple threats to human survival amid the current disastrous COVID-19 pandemic allegedly unleashed by China, whether accidentally or deliberately doesn’t make any difference really.

In recent months, the world once again stands on the brink of nuclear holocaust reminding us of the cold war era with clear nuclear flashpoints in the South China Sea, Taiwan, Kashmir, Japan, and North Korea. The threat of Islamic terrorism is as real today as on 9/11. The frequent natural disasters in the forms of floods, avalanche, tornadoes, forest fires, and other climate change impacts have made the world more vulnerable than ever before. While global threats impact everyone, America is perhaps more vulnerable than the other parts of the world.

The average middle-class American is perhaps the worst affected among all. Real hard-working Americans can see they have been the worst victims whether it’s a global economic meltdown, or 9/11, or COVID-19. They can see what’s coming and they must prepare.

Let Us Face Facts Loud and Clear

The U.S is the epicenter of the global COVID-19, whether by accident or design doesn’t really matter. The pandemic has raised security concerns and has triggered a realignment of the global powers making Americans more vulnerable and at greater risk from diverse threats including biological and nuclear wars.

In this disaster-prone world with uncertainty looming large each day and each moment, the average middle class American must prepare with backup plans, survival skills, and foresight into the future to come. For many years, we have witnessed climatic weather events and natural disasters increasingly more threatening. The threats from the Middle East have compounded with the emergence of new threats from China. It is no longer safe to adopt an ostrich-like approach with our heads buried in the sand.

It’s no longer safe to think only about career and retirement or about college or wherever we may want to go for our next vacation. It’s time to think of a survival plan and be prepared with a plan to move out before the doomsday predictions materialize.

A Bug Out – Pros and Cons

Bugging out successfully is not an option everyone has for the simple reason that not everyone is cut out for this strategy. Just think of it! How many among us are made for wilderness survival? How many of us can adjust to the hardship of a remote and distant town?

However, bugging out can be an option if you are prepared with the survival instinct to endure the hardship. You may have to consider several factors when choosing a bug out location.

The first thing for you to consider is your accessibility to the location. You must be able to arrive at your bug out location. The next on your list should be the resources there. Your bug-out place should be close to water. There should be enough food resources including cultivable soil and plenty of games.

You may have to consider the factor of vulnerability. How would you defend against a hostile tribe? Are people and the surrounding friendly and appealing? What about the weather? Is it hostile? Does the place experience droughts and flooding? How are you going to put up with diverse and extreme weather conditions? You will have to prepare a bug-out of the plan accordingly taking into account all conceivable scenarios.

Here are some of the best bug-out locations within the US when SHTF.

Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama

These are probably the safest as far south as you can get places. Florida is father still but you will most likely encounter transportation and population issues. The advantage with Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama is that you have plenty of convenient places to hide and yet remain protected with the availability of abundant water, luxuriant game, and forest. You may have to remain prepared for the hot summer though.

The Appalachians

In comparison to the Rockies, this mountain chain has the advantage of more temperate weather. Its only concern is a comparatively more dense population.

The place is bounteous in water, game, and cheap land. It is the place you will have fun with guns and hunting. The land is rich enough to grow a variety of foods.

The only downside is the highways getting clogged down in the event of a panic situation as there are several major cities along the highways but there are back roads you can use.

The Rocky Mountains

This could be your ideal bug out location with tons of hideout places if you are anywhere close to Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado states. The region is sparsely populated with relatively affordable land. Permits to build and construct are easy to obtain here. Guns and hunting are not discouraged and you will find game and water in plentiful. You are most likely safe here from nuclear and other threats. The only downside is the freezing temperature and snowfall.

International Relocation

Americans should also prepare for an advance plan to relocate internationally in the event of a mega-disaster that doesn’t materialize overnight but begins to build on gradually with clear signs of where the events would be leading up to. It means working with insured and licensed movers who can arrange your international relocation efficiently and fast. You will need to have your passports, knowledge of the place you are relocating to, and the things you can move through the ports. The backup plan you have should take into account the cost of living at the new place, your finances, and the goods and provisions you may have to build from scratch at the place of relocation because you will most likely move out just with the bare essentials.

Here are some of the places to consider in case you are planning an international relocation.

French Polynesia

Located in the Pacific Ocean, halfway between California and Australia, French Polynesia consists of a group of about 1700 islands that has the landmass of only about 1000 square miles, while its total area including water is about as big as the European Union.

The best thing about the place is its climate. The average temperature is pretty cool and comfortable at about 85 degrees F despite hot and humid summer months. The place is almost free of crime.

Tourists find the island of Tahiti especially attractive. The other attractive destinations in French Polynesia include Huahine, Moorea, and Bora Bora.

Under the French control since the 19th century, French Polynesia is definitely a place to consider for relocation given its hospitable people, culture, and climate over and above the assured safety from global disasters.

Malta

Malta is highly affordable with its low cost of living and superior employment opportunities. Malta ranks second on the list of personal happiness next to Costa Rica. Malta offers a large number of diverse leisure activities. People of Malta are happy to live in their country and more than half of them planned to spend the rest of their lives there.

Simmers in Malta can get hot and humid much like the southeast part of the US. Malta is relatively safer than many other parts of the world. Cleanliness is an issue in some parts of the country, the only deterrent perhaps.

Spain

Spain is the second most welcoming nation to foreigners next to Taiwan. We could have included Taiwan in our list if it was located somewhere far from Communist China. There are a number of reasons to relocate to Spain including its wonderful climate and miles and miles of sandy beaches. The nation maintains a low political profile which is a plus.

You can plan your relocation to Spain based on factors like education, safety, and employment opportunities. Basque country ranks the highest in education and also in safety, while Ceuta ranks the lowest in both of these. Skilled foreign workers are in demand in the skilled trade, language teaching, and engineering.

New Zealand

New Zealand is among the safest of places to live if you ignore the destructive earthquakes in Christchurch in recent years, but its only drawback is its remote location from anywhere in the world. If the flights are stopped you could get stranded.

New Zealand is known for its breathtaking scenery. However, the sparse population of the nation along with its limited public transportation and limited job opportunities may leave you wanting more.

Canada

Canada is a beautiful country with lots of benefits to citizens. It offers free education and universal health coverage but the tax rate can be high especially for those earning more than the average. The cost of living can be especially high in cities like Calgary, Quebec, and Toronto. The real estate prices have been spiraling upwards across Canada.

The winter in Canada is harsh and endless. You may consider relocating to the shoreline if you abhor cold winters. Places like Newfoundland and Vancouver will offer you the respite from the harsh winter. The depressed real estate scenario in Newfoundland could mean affordable housing but this part of Canada faces the scarcity of jobs.

No matter what you choose – bug in or bug out – there are endless choices. All you need is an advance plan that takes care of most of your concerns, if not all.

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11 Things to Do Immediately Following a Blackout

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The average person thinks about their career, daily routine, personal relationships, and even their vehicle, but how many of us contemplate the implications of a blackout? In some parts of the world, it is not uncommon to hear about blackouts. In fact, they occur regularly in the summer in parts of New Zealand and Australia. A blackout can happen any time. What causes a blackout?

During periods of high power use, the demand for electricity increases more than what’s available. This may cause power failures. Also called load shedding, energy providers may switch off the power for a short duration to cope. Sometimes blackouts happen due to natural disasters like bushfires, flash flooding, earthquakes, etc. 

If you live in an area that is prone to frequent environmental fluctuations, it helps to prep for a blackout.. Unfortunately, most people fail to follow this safety measure. Nevertheless, if you ever find yourself in a blackout situation, here are some things you should do immediately:

1. Evaluate your surroundings.

The power can go out for many reasons, but the best place to start is in your own home. Check to see if a defective appliance or a blown out light bulb is behind the fault. Then look outside your home into your surrounding area. If the neighbors’ homes are still receiving power, then perhaps the safety switch in your house has tripped. 

If all the neighbors’ homes are also cloaked in darkness, then check to see if the cause of the outage is visible within your area only. A power line or tree might be the culprit. If so, report it immediately to your electricity supplier. Try to stay put indoors.

2. Look for sources of lighting.

You need to be able to move around your home and property in a safe manner with another source of light. What would you use? Candles are a good and affordable option. They cast a nice glow. If you plan on using candles, beware of fire hazards. Avoid placing the candles near flammable materials. Torches with LED lights are an excellent choice because this won’t drain the batteries. Both candles and torches offer excellent nighttime visibility. Avoid using the phone torch as it may use up too much of the battery power. Since you don’t know how long the power will be gone, it’s best to save your phone battery power. Fuel-based lamps are useful during camping excursions and in blackout situations as well. If you’re facing one, now’s the best time to pull these out.

3. Practice food safety.

Many food items can quickly spoil if they’re not cooled sufficiently During the blackout, try to make sure the frozen or refrigerated food is kept cool. As a rule, if the food item is cold, then eat it. If some foods can be shifted to the freezer, then it will stay colder for a longer time. Try to keep the fridge door shut for as long as you can. This minimizes the cool air from escaping. You might consider following the 2 to 4-hour rule established by the Australian Institute of Food Safety. It recommends the following:

  • If the blackout lasts less than 2 hours, then it is safe to refrigerate and or eat the food item.
  • If the blackout lasts between 2 and 4 hours, you may still eat the food but avoid placing it back into the refrigerator.
  • If the blackout lasts for more than four hours, then throw away the food item.

In case you have doubts about eating or storing certain foods when the power is restored, then it’s best to throw the item out. Eating the food item can make your sick. Check your refrigerator’s settings to ensure that the temperature is set to low. This helps ensure the food will stay fresh for some time. In addition, there are some medications that require refrigeration. Check with your pharmacy if it is safe to take medications that aren’t refrigerated for some time.

4. Turn off all appliances.

In the event of a complete power outage, walk around your home and turn off all the appliances switches. The power may come back unexpectedly. A sudden power surge can cause significant damage to the hardware in your television, computer, laptop, etc. 

5. Use your phone cautiously.

Turn on your cell phone’s data connection to receive updates from your power supplier. Visit the supplier’s website for updates. Local news channels will likely provide information about the blackout as well. To ensure your phone battery lasts for a long time, switch it to a low battery setting. Minimize the brightness and turn off the Bluetooth and WiFi. It helps to have a portable charge at the ready and charged at all times.

6. Help your neighbors.

Check to see if your neighbors are home and okay? In case they’re an elderly couple or people with special needs, try to visit their home. It is a polite gesture to offer your help. Check to make sure they have portable sources of power. Don’t forget to check in with them in periodically in case the blackout extends for some time.

7. Find ways to pass the time.

The blackout may last a few hours, so you will have to find ways to keep your mind occupied. One of the best activities is talking. Talk to your family members. If you live alone, step outside onto your porch and have a conversation with your neighbors.

Another excellent pass time is star gazing. If you live in a bustling city or densely populated suburban locale, then outside. This is perhaps the only time you might get to see a clear sky without light pollution. Try spotting the constellations! 

8. Keep medical supplies ready.

If you don’t have information about how long the blackout will last, it is extremely beneficial to keep your first aid kit ready and accessible. In case you’re taking regular medications, i.e. for diabetes or blood pressure, ensure you have enough on hand. It also helps to have certain over-the-counter medications on hand as well such as ibuprofen/acetamenophen, cough syrup, pain balm, bandages, etc.

9. Check your windows and doors.

If the blackout hits you at night, perform a routine check of all your windows and doors to make sure they are secure. Ensure nothing is kept open. Unfortunately, theft and robberies can occur at anytime! 

10. Check your pets.

If you have house pets, make sure you know where they are at all times. If they sleep in a different room from yours, it helps to keep them close during a blackout. Ensure they’re fed and hydrated well. 

11. Evaluate your food supply.

If the blackout looks like it may go on for some time, check your food supply. If it’s safe to do so, visit your nearest store. Stock up on non-perishable food items such as the following:

  • Canned vegetables and fruit
  • Dry pasta
  • Nuts 
  • Cereals
  • Bread
  • Snacks
  • fresh fruit
  • Juice boxes
  • Dry milk powder or HTC milk
  • Water bottles
  • Pet food
  • Infant formula

Some other essential items to stock up on are:

  • toilet paper
  • bathing soap or shampoo
  • laundry detergent
  • batteries
  • hand sanitizer
  • matches
  • candles
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Excellent Ideas from an Experienced Survivalist to Homestead in an Apartment

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After watching the 1999 romantic comedy, ‘Blast from the Past,’ I had always wondered about the genius of Dr. Calvin Webber who managed 35 years in an underground shelter. His wife gave birth to an only child Adam, who ventured out into the outside world for the first time in his 35th year. The point is the film convinced its viewers very realistically that it is possible to live isolated for at least 35 years if we make meticulous plans. 

History is overloaded with numerous examples of self-sufficient lifestyles. Many communes had developed their norms to survive and maintain law and order within their secluded lands. There are many anecdotes about people living their lives without interacting with the external world. The “Lena and Ole” compilations are based on Norwegians who chose the upper lands of the Midwest as their foster homes. Here is a one-liner, 

“Ole painted the barn in July and had put on two jackets because the user manual of the paint said- Put on two coats!”

This is an inadvertent simple joke that has no ill intentions. Will Rogers once said, “Everything is funny as long as it’s happening to someone else.” Homesteading is no easy task. At the same time, it is a style that has no substitute once you get used to it. 

The Age of Information

Our generation is blessed with information at our fingertips, I mean, literally. Today a shepherd boy living in a remote African village has more information on his smartphone than was available only to the President of the United States at a certain age. My point is that the film ‘Blast from the past’ could not be conceived today nor would Ole put on two jackets to paint the barn. Homesteading is fine for people who live on “land,” but what about the inhabitants of apartments? 

The Homesteading Lifestyle

What happens in a homestead that is independent of the outside society? The inhabitants have the necessities within the confines of their boundaries for a decent existence. Let us have a look at the methods used by homesteaders to live. First we need to define the term in simple language.

An individual, a family, or a whole society can live within the set geographical limits of a designated area. We are talking about homesteading in an apartment, so let us focus on an individual or a small family. 

Definition of Homesteading in an Apartment

A single-family existing within the household compound of an apartment building to live, work, and earn can be defined as homesteading. 

This layman’s definition will give rise to a lot of questions which we shall be attempting in the content that follows. 

OK, let us now get on with living our dream life homesteading in our apartments.

A Farm Inside the Apartment

I will begin by growing my food and advance on to sophisticated produce along the way. Start small by growing your salad bowl.

i. Get hold of enough grow bags or containers. Search the net for required sizes and DIY ideas.

ii. Prepare the soil by using proper potting mix.

iii. Tomato is a good option- cherry tomato would be my suggestion. 

iv. Other plants for our salad bowl should be lettuce and basil plants. 

v. Take care of the plants with good nursing practices. Place them on the balcony where there is enough sun.

vi. Carrots can be grown inside car battery covers in the interior of the apartment.

vii. You can make organic fertilizer at home. 

You are now the proud owner of an organic farm. 

Tip: Grow lights can substitute for the sun.

Other Items I Can Grow

Once you get the hang of interior farming, we can move on to other crops. 

Strawberries: They can be grown in containers or grow bags, but need a hydroponic watering system. We will discuss that later. 

Herbs: Mints, lavender, and rosemary are good choices. They will come in handy to prepare a good cup of hot tea. They can also be used to make soaps and oils. Herbs will add flavor to many dishes. 

Micro Greens: With some quality seeds you can begin. The first harvest will provide seeds for the next. 

Sprouts: With a jar and some cheesecloth or mess top we can grow our sprouts for a stir fry or sandwich. 

A Hydroponic System

Even if you are growing food using containers and potting soil, a hydroponic system will let you increase the quantity. It avoids a lot of mess as it advocates a system of soilless farming. They come in compact designs or vertical configurations. 

They can be bought or constructed by learning the numerous DIY strategies available online. 

Manufacture Manure at Home

Organic fertilizer can be made at home by the clever utilization of food waste. Get a container with a good lid. Put some gravel and soil at the bottom. Introduce worms for worm composting. Empty all bio-degradable garbage into the container. You will get enough environment-friendly fertilizer for the farm. This method frees you from the chore of taking out the garbage. 

Tip: Do not expose the manure cans to sunlight. It can cook worms. 

Grow Mushrooms

Did you know mushrooms are grown only indoors for industrial farming? Get an edible mushroom kit to begin your first batch in a dark corner of your apartment. 

Meat On The Table

Did you wonder for a moment what crazy idea I was going to put forth? Quails!

They are very silent birds that need only very little space. They give a lot of eggs and quail meat is way above chicken, beef, and pork in its health advantages. Quails being small birds, need only a little feed, and kitchen scraps go well with them. 

Mini Solar Power House

Did you know solar panels don’t require direct sunlight? They need good lighting and it is advised to install the panels at a good spot on the patio or balcony. 

Depending upon the capacity of the panels, you can increase the number of appliances that run on solar power. They can be used for grow lights and also for pumps used in the hydroponic system. 

A Self-Reliant Life

Once we have become self-sufficient in food matters, we can think about cutting out other purchases. This will also involve income creation. Do your homework to get as many DIY ideas as possible. We can begin the process by gaining ideas by:

i. Visiting other homesteaders or communes.

ii. Joining a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) venture.

iii. Visiting farmer’s markets.

We can enrich our homesteading experience within the confines of an apartment by progressing on to a more autonomous lifestyle by integrating the following activities:

i. Do own baking for bread and other items.

ii. Learn and engage in carpentry.

iii. Do your own electric and plumbing jobs.

iv. Learn to stitch to make your garments (trust me, it is far easier than you believed.)

Before Going Shopping

Whenever the need to buy something comes up, take a few moments to ponder whether it is something you can create using your potential. Not only will you be learning a new skill, but also it may help you earn. Remember, the Wright brothers had never flown an airplane till they became the first humans to become airborne on a machine. 

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14 Top Off-Grid Projects for Survival

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Whether you’re planning to move to the Alaskan frontiers or want to live in a cabin the Vermont mountains, these off-grid living conditions will disconnect you from water and power sources.

To live off the grid, you need to know how to generate your power, collect and filter water, and even live without a sewer or septic system.

The following off-grid projects are necessary for survival in the great outdoors:

1. Collect Rainwater

Collecting drinkable water is a vital survival skill. When living off the grid, this is one skill you must master very quickly. There are a few rainwater collection projects you can set up to gather drinking water. For instance, your collection system may include roof gutters, a large capacity stacked system, a rain barrel, or a large water tank that’s buried or above ground. The amount of rainwater you can collect will depend on the amount of rainfall in your area and the size of your roof.

2. Greywater Treatment System

A greywater treatment system can route wastewater to your yard and irrigate non-food plants. What are some sources of greywater? Greywater refers to any wastewater collected from washing machines, showers, tubs, and kitchen sinks. Most of this water will contain grease, food particles, dirt, some cleaning products, and hair. You can set up a grey water treatment in your yard to ‘treat’ these contaminants. There are several types of grey water systems. Generally, gravity-based systems that don’t require filters or pumps are easy to maintain and last the longest. In case you produce excess waste water than what is required for irrigation, set up an artificial wetlands on your property. This will absorb and filter the water naturally.

3. Root Cellar and Low-tech Fridge

A root cellar is an ancient way of conserving vegetables and fruits throughout the year. The earth has a stable temperature underneath the frost line which provides ‘natural refrigeration’. This temperature keeps items like onions, potatoes, and apples, fresh throughout the year. When you move off the grid, you can set up your own root cellar using reclaimed and recycled materials. Simply bury a trash can or chest freezer into the ground.

If you prefer to be without a fridge system altogether, consider zeer pots. These are also called pot-in-pot fridges. To build one, you need two basic terracotta pots, some water and sand. One pot must be smaller in size than the other. Contents placed inside a zeer pot are cooled by a damp sandy layer between two terracotta pots. As the moisture from the sand evaporates, the inner pot is cooled. You have to keep this sand moist at all times to keep the contents of the inner pot cool. This system can keep vegetables fresh for nearly a month. It’s also effective at deterring insects. You may also store cool water in a zeer pot.

4. Mini Wind Turbine

This off grid project may seem out of reach, but it’s actually not! A mini wind turbine is an effective solution when you want to supplement your solar power. With a mini wind turbine kit you can generate up to 250 watts of energy.

5. Solar & Outdoor wood-fired oven

In the summer, temperatures can soar when you’re living off the grid. It’s too hot and humid to cook indoors, so the best way to prevent extra heat build-up in your home by cooking outdoors. Although grills are superb, a solar cooker or a wood-fired oven will allow you to bake your favourite treats as well.

You can build your own solar cooker with a windshield sun reflector or some aluminium foil and a cardboard box. With a dash of sunlight, you can prepare your food. Cob ovens are another good outdoor cooking solution. These are built using straw and mud. They get very hot and are capable of churning out pizzas in three minutes.

6. Composting Toilets

Each day, billions of litres of drinkable water is flushed down the toilet. If properly maintained, a composting toilet can transform human waste water into healthy soil. Composting toilets are easier to care for that what you expect. When you move off the grid, you can easily purchase a commercial composting toilet. If you prefer to build one yourself, you need a bucket, some carbon-dense composting materials such as shredded oak leaves, cedar chips, and sawdust, and a toilet seat. This is emptied out into a special outdoor compost bin that’s separate from a regular compost bin which produces compost for your herb and vegetable gardens.

7. Solar-powered Gadgets and Appliances

There are several opportunities to separate from the grid. You may build your own solar charger or hand-cranked gadgets like blenders and gadget chargers. You can also build your mason jar solar lights, a solar food dryer, a parabolic hot water heater, and even a solar-powered Altoid tin.

8. Greenhouse

If you’re planning to live in a colder region where the winters can be long and harsh, it would help to have a greenhouse. This will provide you with food throughout the year. A greenhouse is a superb off-grid project because it can also generate power for your home. You can use this energy to power your drip irrigation unit or even heat your home.

9. Washing Machine

Washing clothes by hand is a tough job. There’s a lot of scrubbing, wringing, and soaking involved. If you plan to live off the grid, you’re going to have to build a washing machine to facilitate this task. You can easily build a washer with a net bag, a container, and a lever-driven shaft that’s held in position with a wooden frame. The net bag is the key component because it will squeeze, agitate, and hold the clothes. A DIY washing machine requires zero electricity and relies solely on hand-cranking. After your clothes are washed, simply wring them out and hang to dry.

10. Solar Power Charger

While living off the grid, you may face a situation where your home loses complete power. In such cases, it would help to have a solar power charger. You can easily build one using a solar panel and a rechargeable battery.

11. Portable Solar Generator

A moveable solar generator is a handy tool to have when you live off the grid. Not only is this a back source of energy, but you can use it anywhere on your property, i.e. the shed, garden, backyard, etc. To build a small scale portable solar generator, you need two, 8-watt panels, an inverter, and a marine deep cycle battery. The power generated by this simple system is enough to operate a television set, a few power tools, and even a laptop.

12. DIY Humidifier

When you’re living off the grid in a cool climate region, you can expect your home to feel dry. Over time, dry air will cause sore throats, coughs, and even the flu. You can also develop dry skin, teary eyes, and allergic reactions. This generally happens in the winter when temperatures drop below zero and you turn on the heat. Once the heat goes up, the moisture dries up.

To prevent this dryness, you need to introduce humidity. A humidifier is the best solution to add moisture. To do this, place numerous house plants in your home. You can also take a large car sponge and soak it. Put it in a large ziplock bag with holes. You can place this ziplock bag in any room. The sponge will release moisture into the room. You may also opt for a fish tank. The open fish tank will release humidity into the room and generate a cool atmosphere. In addition, you get a beautiful view not to mention adds character in your home.

13. Rooftop Garden

If you don’t have room to set up a garden on your lawn, consider a rooftop garden. The concept has been around for centuries, but it was popularized just a few decades ago in Germany. A rooftop garden is basically a living plant surface on a roof structure. In this garden, there is less than 1 foot of soil is applied to your roof along with some support structures. This will enable you to grow a variety of herbs, fruits, and vegetables on top of your garage, shed, or house.

14. Passive Window Solar Heater

This simple solar heater is an excellent source of heat during the cold winters. All you need to build this off-grid project is a few pieces of Styrofoam, a can of black spray paint, and some aluminum foil. You may cut the Styrofoam to fit the window or a bit smaller so that some light will still get through. The former option will give you more heat.

When the sun is shining, the black painted portion will absorb much of the sun’s heat. Hot air has a tendency of expanding and rising. Once the hot air rises, it will leave from the top vent of your heater. This prompts a vacuum action and pulls cold air into the bottom vent of the heater. The cooler air is warmed and continues to do so until sunset.

With these 14 off grid projects for survival, you can live comfortably in your new surroundings.

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