How Long Can You Survive Without Gasoline And Electricity?

The recent events surrounding Hurricane Sandy have a lot of people wondering how long can we survive without gasoline and electricity? The lines for gas in New Jersey is stark reminder how dependent we are on basic yet crucial utilities like gasoline, running water, heating, cooling, phone lines, and electricity. Sitting on the West Coast, it’s sometimes surreal to see the effects of natural disasters that strike year after year out East. We hope for the best for everyone who has been affected.

Everybody likes to talk about our earthquakes, but we haven’t had a large one in well over 30 years. Eventually, the big one will come and those of us not affected by the storm should begin to question our dependability on power. Backup plans and disaster preparedness kits should be in place when everything goes dark one day.

Natural disasters sometimes make me wonder whether owning any property is worth it. But then, I come to my senses because it’s not good to live our lives in fear. Besides, that is what insurance is for.


When I was a kid, my friends and I would hike up to the mountains and spend the weekends under the stars. We brought our tents, blankets, matches, canned food, and candles to spend time talking story and playing games. There was no such thing as the internet then, let alone a mobile phone! I could have spent weeks out in the wilderness with my buddies without a care in the world.

Nowadays, I fill up my car, Moose, every three weeks for $80. Although his gas mileage is atrocious, I only drive about 6,500 miles a year because I take public transportation everywhere. If I had to ration, I could probably go for at least a month without filling him up.

I’ve got a gallon of gas hidden in a safe place. It’s not much, but it’s enough to fuel a generator for days. The gallon is handy when Moose is running low, and I don’t have time to fill him up because of some meeting.

In my cupboard is cereal, bottled water, dried fruit, a dozen cans of sardines, gatorade, and crackers just in case every single grocery store in a three-mile radius also loses power. There are several fruit trees in my backyard, which depending on the year will provide plums, lemons, apples, and pears.

Based on what I’ve written, I should be able to last for roughly three weeks without gas or electricity before I need to learn how to build my own fire without matches and shoot a bow and arrow. Hopefully, within three weeks, the power will go back on so I do not have to queue in line for gasoline.


There’s a new TV show on NBC called Revolution that I started watching a few weeks ago. It takes place in the future after an unknown event destroys all means of electricity and power sources across the globe. Even though it is a fictional story, one can’t help wonder how close it could be to reality if such a large scale catastrophic event were to occur.

In the show, many people turned to violence over the years as a means to survival. Food and resources dried up, people easily got sick, and the safe places families used to live in became abandoned, decrepit, and dangerous. Without electricity, the infrastructures that used to hold everything together crumbled and so did everything around them.

Fortunately, we haven’t experienced a disaster like in Revolution that affects the entire world and hopefully we never will. But it does make you wonder what would our world be like without any power at all? Would everyone start turning on each other, or would we manage to come together and find ways to ration and stay civilized? I certainly hope it would be the latter!


With electricity coming back to NYC and New Jersey a week after the storm, how unprepared are we if folks felt it necessary to line up for four hours a day for gasoline just days after? Reports of fights started breaking out everywhere as people became tremendously frustrated with waiting.

Can you imagine living in a world without your smartphone or internet? It’s kind of scary how addicted we are to staying connected. As a blogger, I probably will go stir crazy after three days without the internet! And imagine the frustration of not being able to call your family to tell them you were safe because your phone was dead. I’m sure this happened to many people during Sandy given the number of power outages and how short the battery life is on smartphones these days.

Untemplaters, how long can you survive without gas and electricity? Are you prepared for the next blackout? Why do so many people on the East Coast make fun of us on the West Coast for earthquakes? Is it human nature to make people feel bad?



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  1. Lance @ Money Life and More says

    To the earthquakes, it is just to make you realize that every place has the possibility of natural disasters.

    I wouldn’t have a ton of food stocked up but I doubt gas would be a problem. If we had no electricity I doubt I’d be going to work so I shouldn’t have to drive at all. That and we don’t have a generator.

    • Sydney says

      You’re right that every place is susceptible to natural disasters. Fortunately I’m not totally freaked out by earthquakes because I experienced them growing up. I actually get somewhat relieved when we have small ones because it helps release pressure and it’s better to have frequent small ones vs nothing for a long time and then getting a big one.

    • says

      The last major earthquake in SF was literally 30 years ago. Yet people not from SF remind us of this all the time. I’m not even sure if we can categorize earthquakes as a regular occurrence given it is so rare.

  2. Sydney says

    The longest I’ve been without power was about 2 days. I was fine the first day but started to go a bit stir crazy the second. I’m thinking to get a solar powered USB device charger for that reason and also to be able to make calls if I was ever in a disaster. I already have a stocked disaster preparedness kit at my home and office and extra water. I could go many weeks without gas but I would want electricity back after just a couple days.

    • says

      You are prepared Sydney! No power would be tough thanks to our dependence on the internet, and the fact that we are bloggers.

      Good idea on a solar powered USB device charger!!! Can I buy one on Amazon?

      • Sydney says

        Yeah Amazon has ton like the one above for less than $30. There are others that cost over a hundred bucks too, but the ratings on the cheaper ones are pretty good and still get the job done.

  3. says

    I remember being without power for 3 or 4 days when I was living in Michigan in my much younger years. We always had enough food to live, so we just stayed home, read books, and played board games. Nowadays, I’d go nuts if I had to go one day without electricity – it is my lifeblood, especially the computer.

    Even so, I’m prepared to go months without electricity with water and food stored up. I also hope that civilization would not turn violent as I don’t have much in the way of security, however, my wife and I are thinking about taking some gun classes and owning our own firearms. But to me, that really is the lowest civilization could go and I would certainly hope we never go there.

    • Sydney says

      After seeing how crazy people went in SF after the Giants won the World Series, I am nervous what would happen if something bad happened. It blows my mind that people “celebrated” by setting things on fire, vandalizing other people’s property, and even smashing a public bus apart. There are a lot of idiotic people out there, and they’re the ones I’d be scared of if things went dark.

      I personally wouldn’t want to own a firearm, but I can understand your concerns with security and wanting to protect yourself. Maybe I should go buy some pepper spray!

    • says

      Hmmm, big step on the firearms! Maybe start with an air rifle or BB gun?

      I’m impressed you can go for months without electricity or gas. Maybe after 2 weeks, we just all give up and accept that we’re on our own?

  4. Edward Antrobus says

    My inlaws were without power for a week last winter. It wasn’t even a big storm. They just went into town to a local diner to charge up their cell phones and laptop while eating a sticky bun (that place sells some ginormous sticky buns, they are a full meal for two!). My father-in-law still talks about it.

    I used to go camping all the time as a kid. If power was gone for good, I’d have to team up with a hunter for meat, but I can do a fair amount of gardening and preparing food.

    • Sydney says

      Ooo yikes that must have been one cold, long week in the winter for them. The coldest it gets in SF is the 40s, but man the East Coast can get literally freezing (and below freezing) in winter and that would be really, really tough without electricity. I suppose if you had a fireplace that would help, but not everyone has them (they’re not even allowed in new construction here).

      That’s a good call on charging phones and laptops at restaurants or other public places that are up and running.

  5. says

    I can live without lights, but I need heat in the winter. Unfortunately, I need electricity to turn the heat on. The last earthquake taught us that you can live with less food and there are plenty of choices that do not require cooking. Clean drinking water was a premium within 24 hours. It was great that they sent water trucks around to neighborhoods. I

    • Sydney says

      Yes, we can go much longer without food vs water. We’ll probably feel hungry faster than thirst, but our bodies dehydrate very quickly. I have bottled water put aside for emergencies for this very reason. We’d like to think we could just fill up bowls and buckets with water if there was an emergency, but since there’s no guarantee the plumbing could even work, it’s best to have a lot of bottled water on hand.

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