Updated: 18 March 2019.
Failing Eskom and its resulting power outages have been called a “national crisis”. How soon our power supply will become stable again we don’t know, but at least we know we should brace ourselves and get prepared, right?
In case you like checklists or you forgot your Scouts training, here we present some tips to lessen the blow of load-shedding for your family.
1. Preparing for an unexpected power outage:
- Ensure that your cell phone is always fully charged when power is available, and get a power bank as back-up (remember to keep it charged). If you need to get some work done, charge your laptop battery too.
- Try to keep some fuel in the car’s tank since during power outages, petrol stations cannot pump fuel.
- Ensure that you have adequate cash as auto tellers cannot operate without electricity.
- Keep temporary lighting, such as candles and electric torches, readily available.
- Keep a torch (with fresh batteries) by your bedside at all times, since your cellphone battery may run flat.
- Obtain a small LP gas lamp, as they provide good quality lighting for a large area.
- An LED battery-operated night light will provide a warm, comforting glow in your child’s room.
- Obtain a stand-by bottled LP gas heating ring for essential cooking and to boil water for hot beverages.
- Get some sterilising liquid or tablets or have a gas stove and pot to hand so you can sterilise your baby’s bottles.
- Keep adequate stocks of essential foodstuffs and snacks that do not need to be refrigerated.
- Place plastic containers with water in your freezer or freezer compartment. This frozen water will act like ice bricks to help keep food cold during a power outage. It also helps your fridge to save electricity otherwise. When you fill the bottles or tubs with water, leave some space so the water can expand.
- Most medication requiring refrigeration can be kept in a closed fridge for several hours without spoiling. To be sure about this, check with your doctor or pharmacist.
- Regularly check your alarm system’s battery. During outages, the battery may die and it won’t be active in the dark.
2. Just before scheduled load-shedding:
- Release automatic electric garage door mechanisms to allow you to gain access to your property during a power outage.
- Release electric security gates and switch to manual operation to avoid either being locked out or locked into your home.
- Boil water and keep in hot water flasks for hot drinks.
- Use a thermal cover on tea pots and other pots and pans to keep hot drinks, soup and other hot meals warm.
- Prepare meals beforehand so your kids won’t have to eat peanut butter sandwiches for dinner (again).
- Homework by candlelight can be potentially hazardous, so make sure you have a bright gas or LED lamp ready.
- Buy glow-in-the-dark stickers and allow your children to decorate their rooms. Little stars or planets on the ceiling will brighten their night!
- Teach your children about fire safety! Keep candles in safe containers out of reach, and don’t leave them on overnight.
- Always ensure there are no gas leaks (ask an expert to install your gas if you’re not 100% confident) and switch all gas appliances off the moment you’re done with them.
- Remind your neighbours of the same.
- Have a fire extinguisher on hand.
3. During a power outage:
- Switch it off! If the power goes off, it is safer to turn off or disconnect any electrical appliances that you were using, since a power surge may occur when the electricity is restored.
- It is always useful to keep one light switched ‘on’ to alert you when the power returns.
- Keep refrigerator doors closed. This will keep your food colder for longer. A power outage of up to 4 hours should not cause food spoilage, and a freezer should keep frozen food safe for at least a day.
- Do not burn refuse, unwanted furniture, copper wire or any other materials to cook or for heat. This emits toxic fumes.
- If you arrive home in the dark, and you have armed response service, check if they will wait for you at your house and accompany you into your home.
- Have old-fashioned fun with the kids with games, or listen to a podcast or audio book that you downloaded before.
- Go outside in the dark and gaze at the stars.
Sources: http://www.capetown.gov.za, PowerAlert