Load shedding is here to stay and it's annoying… but you can make it bearable by being prepared.
A brief look at Eskom’s load shedding calendar reveals that South Africans can expect to endure shedding almost every day for the next few months. What will happen in winter – traditionally a period of high energy usage in South Africa - remains to be seen.
During a recent particularly long bout of load shedding, my thoughts strayed to ‘Doomsday Preppers’ – a National Geographic show which explores the lives of a number of Americans who are preparing for the end of the world. Bizarre and extreme as some of their initiatives seemed to me in the past, it occurred to me that none of them would be caught sitting in the dark in South Africa.
With this in mind I decided to look into ways in which I could be better prepared for the rolling blackouts which look set to characterise our lives for the foreseeable future.
Although not always reliable, Eskom’s load shedding schedules are arguably the best way of preparing for upcoming blackouts. Keep an eye on http://loadshedding.eskom.co.za and your municipality’s schedules. Unfortunately, during particularly constrained periods there may be no warning. Simply assume the worst and prepare accordingly with the following load shedding solutions...
Invest in a UPS:
Generally speaking, electrical equipment is not geared to handle power surges. Protect your computers and other electrical equipment with an Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS) or two. This is particularly important in a business context. Even if your insurance policy covers damage stemming from power surges, sudden shutdowns can result in significant loss/ corruption of data as well as difficulties in re-booting.
Buy a generator:
If you can afford it, you may want to consider purchasing a generator. As is the case with most things, it’s wise to shop around and do your homework before buying one first. Keep in mind that if you live in a sectional title complex you may be barred from installing one for health and safety reasons. Check with your body corporate first and remember that there are other alternatives to generators available, many of which can now be purchased on financing plans.
Your taps may run dry:
A not-so-obvious side effect of extensive blackouts is loss of water pressure at municipal water supplies due to a lack of power to run electrical pumps. If a blackout lasts long enough your taps could run dry altogether. In other words, consider filling up a couple of jugs and buckets when the power goes out.
Keep your car topped up:
You don’t want to roll into a petrol station on an empty tank only to find the pumps are out of action or that Eskom has bought all the diesel.
Check flight times:
Airports may experience refuelling issues which may in turn cause significant delays. Check the flight schedules to ensure your flight is leaving on time.
Lastly, make the best of it:
Buy a few board games. Way back before everyone had computers and tablets at home and numerous TV channels to choose from, families and friends used to spend time playing board games with each other. Load shedding provides the perfect excuse to tap back into this tradition
Purchase a small gas stove to whip up some load shedding friendly meals. Or better still, pre-cook food that can be easily heated on a gas stove while you still have electricity. Think soup, chicken breasts and stir-fried veggies
Fill a thermos with boiling water so that you can at least have a cup of hot tea during a blackout
Be adventurous and hold a potjie competition with your neighbours or just have a conversation with your family over a candlelit meal. You never know, you might actually forge closer bonds with the people in your life