What to do when loadshedding hits
South Africa is reeling from loadshedding, and though there are mechanisms which could make those hours of darkness slightly better – most South African citizens just don’t have the money for generators, petrol, solar panels, inverters, batteries etc. So I’m just going to exclude those from my suggestion list, and keep it as real and affordable as I can.
What you can do before loadshedding hits your home
- Get things like your cellphone, laptop and power-bank fully charged. If there is one thing that we can depend on in South Africa, it’s that ESKOM sticks to it’s loadshedding schedule. So we can prepare.
- Make sure you have candles on hand, and that the batteries in torches and lamps are working.
- Try and always have a little cash on hand, in case you need to make a purchase and the card machines are off-line.
- Invest in a gas tank and gas stove. Even when the power is on – it is much more cost –effective to cook on gas these days.
- Dish out food into smaller pots, so that they are easier and quicker to warm on the gas stove.
- Boil water before –hand and keep them in flasks.
- Fill some bottles and containers with water and freeze them. When the power goes out, these will act as ice-bricks to keep the food in your freezer from defrosting and going off.
- If you have a baby, sterilize their bottles before the power goes off.
- Invest in thermal covers like Wonderbags, to keep your food warm.
- If you have them, put off your automatic garage- door mechanisms and security gates, so that you can manually open and close the door. We forgot to do this once and couldn’t get out of the garage. We ended up having to Uber to where we needed to be, because the car was stuck in the garage. Another cost I can attribute to ESKOM!
- Make sure that at least one person in the house has enough data, so that the others can hotspot off them, if need be.
- Children are writing exams and need to study – make sure to print what they need, ahead of loadshedding
Regularly save your work on your computer. It can be a real train smash to lose what you have been working on if the power goes out in the middle of a project
- Just before loadshedding hits – switch off your plugs to appliances. Flip the switch at the wall, and then wait until the power is fully restored again before you turn the power to appliances back on. Loadshedding can damage appliances, which cost a small fortune to replace, or even just repair.
- If you have to walk home from taking public transport and it is already dark, having the streetlights off, can make things even more dangerous. Make plans for someone to either collect you, or walk you home.
- Homes are vulnerable to break-ins because alarm systems are often disrupted with load shedding. It’s better to be safe than sorry, and ensure that your alarm and armed response unit is still activated during power-outages
- Check with your insurance to find out which of your items are covered in case of damage during loadshedding, so that there is no dispute afterwards.
- Know your loadshedding schedule, and inform your family of it – so that everyone can make the required adjustments and arrangements.
Contrary to promises made by politicians before elections, loadshedding is still going to be around for a while. It is going to negatively affect our lives, and cost us money. The most realistic thing we can do, is plan and budget for it.
If you are able to save some money, then do so and invest in an inverter system, solar panels or a generator. Add more gas and data to your monthly household budget. Buy powerbanks, torches and lights.
I could end this article by writing about how we must make the most of loadshedding, by gazing at the stars and having dinners by candlelight. I don’t want to do that. For that takes away from how terrible loadshedding really is. Just because we have to live with it, does not mean that we ever have to be OK with it.