Load shedding is an ongoing reality in South Africa, and as a result, our homes and businesses are constantly exposed to potential risks of damage to electronic equipment and compromised security systems. To mitigate these risks, it’s crucial to take proactive measures that can prepare you for any eventuality and inconvenience associated with both scheduled and unplanned electricity outages. Here are twelve tips to help protect your home against potential load shedding risks, without the need for a generator or solar panels.
Know Your Schedule
Keeping track of any scheduled outages in your area is essential to prepare for load shedding. You can download a reputable Eskom load shedding app on your smartphone or ask to be added to a group of friends who can keep each other updated on planned load shedding schedules.
Be Security Savvy
Criminals also study load shedding schedules to identify which areas will be vulnerable at specific times, making it necessary to be extra vigilant about access to your home and securing your perimeter. Tripped and false alarms can create opportunities for opportunistic burglars.
Get Back-up Batteries for Your Alarm and Gate System
Ensure that your alarm system is in good working condition, and the back-up battery is fully functional to provide power to the system during load shedding. Similarly, check that your garage door motor or electronic gate can function without power.
Make Sure You Have Sufficient Back-up Lighting
Keeping a torch or headlamp in your car can be helpful if you arrive home at night during a power outage. Most smartphones have built-in torches or torch apps, which come in handy during unexpected power outages. Always stay charged, ensure your cellphone, laptop, and tablet devices are fully charged ahead of scheduled blackouts. Be sure to charge them again as soon as possible after the power returns. It’s also a good idea to have an emergency phone charger and power bank close by. This comes in handy during extended power outages.
Plan to Stay Connected
Staying connected to the internet is essential to keep in touch with what’s happening and get regular updates, so ensure that your mobile data stays topped up. Remember to use devices sparingly during outages so that you don’t drain the battery completely before the power returns.
Don’t Forget the Benefits of Gas
Invest in a small gas bottle and lamp for cooking and lighting. A gas lamp provides good quality lighting for a large area, and a gas cooker can be a life-saver during electricity cuts. It’s a good idea to keep hot water in a thermal flask so that you can make hot drinks. Prepare meals beforehand if you know there’s going to be a scheduled blackout during meal times.
Stock Up on Bottled Water and Freeze Some
Some households depend on electric pumps for their water supply, especially in rural areas. Frozen bottled water will help keep food cold during a power outage and will also not spoil. Having a few extra bottles handy will ensure you won’t run out during outages.
Keep the Cold In
Leave your freezer and refrigerator doors closed as much as possible to preserve the temperatures inside. A fully stocked freezer should keep food safe for up to two days, and a refrigerator for four to six hours.
Unplug Your Cables as Soon as the Power Goes Out
Consider any electrical connection as live during a power outage as power can return at any time. Unplug any electronic devices or equipment or switch it off at the wall, including fixed telephone cables. This will help prevent damage or injury due to surges that may occur when electricity is restored.
Back Up Your Data
If you save important data on your home computer, consider backing it up over the internet in case of a hard drive crash or unforeseen electrical fault. Online cloud-based backups are very convenient and are mostly automated, which means that you have one less thing to worry about.
Know Your Emergency Contacts
It’s crucial to have emergency contact information saved on your phone, but it’s also essential to keep a printed copy close by. This should include emergency services such as the fire department, police, and medical services. Also, include contact information of friends and family along with your insurance information.
Consider Alternative Power Sources
While generators and solar panels can be expensive, consider investing in small-scale alternatives like power banks, rechargeable batteries, or portable solar panels. These can help keep your essential devices charged and running during a power outage.
Load shedding can be a significant inconvenience and can potentially harm your home’s security and electronic equipment. However, by taking proactive measures like those listed above, you can mitigate the risks associated with load shedding and protect your home and family. Be sure to stay informed, stay charged, and stay prepared for any eventuality.