Written by Chelsea Petersen
Load shedding is a huge inconvenience to all South Africans, and it won’t be stopping any time soon. Eskom recently announced that load shedding could continue for the next few years. This was met with much outrage as citizens can’t believe that the situation has been allowed to reach such proportions. While annoying, daily power cuts are a reality that we all need to get used to, and start planning for. It’s a necessary evil and the best we can do is brace ourselves until the storm passes. With Eskom trying their level best to avoid sticking to a set schedule and jumping between load shedding stages at all times of the day, it’s a good idea to prepare for unexpected power cuts. While arranging to be as comfortable as possible, it’s also a good idea to think about safety. Follow our guide to surviving the darkness:
Electronics and Appliances-
Unplug all appliances in your house when the power goes out. Otherwise, when it comes back on, the power surge could damage small appliances. This is cheaper than buying special plug adaptors to prevent such damage.
Make sure your cell phone is fully charged whenever there is power, or before a power cut.
While incredibly useful, generators can be very expensive. As an alternative, try a portable solar- powered generator. They may not generate a lot of power, but they are cost effective and can be used to power one appliance at a time.
Invest in battery- powered or solar- charged torches and lanterns. Store them somewhere that is easily accessible in the dark.
Wrap your geyser pipes in newspaper to insulate them. This will give you hot water for a longer period, allowing you to shower or wash dishes during a blackout.
Safety and Security–
Make sure all remote-controlled gates and electric fences have back-up batteries. This is especially important to prevent break-ins, as houses are incredibly vulnerable otherwise.
If you do decide to get a generator, make sure it’s outside, a good distance from the house to avoid the poisonous fumes.
Top up on petrol when you are expecting a power cut, you may find yourself running on fumes when a power cut leaves all nearby petrol stations offline. Be even more diligent about this at night.
If you come home late often, be alert, and keep a torch in your car.
If you live or work in a tall building, never take the elevator just before load shedding is scheduled. You don’t want to end up stuck in the lift. In case this does happen unexpectedly, be sure to save the number of building maintenance or security.
If you use candles, do not leave them burning when you go to sleep
During power cuts, having a braai outside is the way to go.
Gas stoves are also recommended for when braaing isn’t possible.
Prepare food in advance. Consider making foods that can be cooked in a single pot. This can be frozen and easily reheated on a gas stove at a later stage.
Boil water and keep in a thermal flask to make hot drinks during the blackout.
Stock up on none perishable snacks for between meals, or for an easy dish.
Read a book. Old fashion paper is the most reliable, but if you have a Kindle or a tablet, charge it fully before scheduled load shedding. This is a good way to kill time without needing power.
Bring out the board games. This is a fun way to pass the time, especially if you have kids to entertain. Family bonding time is also a plus.
Old battery powered radios can come in handy. When other electronics have died, the radio will keep you entertained and updated on news.