Load shedding. Power cuts. Rolling blackouts. Call them what you will, they’re a reality and Eskom has warned they’re here to stay for quite some time.

But why is this happening you may ask? Load shedding is about Eskom balancing the power scales; it needs to be able to supply enough electricity to meet the country’s demands. When supply matches demand, everything is fine. But when the country needs more power than Eskom can generate, either because of an increase in demand or a drop in supply, then we’re in trouble.

If the country’s demand outstrips the amount of electricity Eskom can supply, power stations start taking some serious strain and the system can be badly damaged. That, in turn, can lead to a national blackout – a truly worst-case scenario.

For both residents and businesses, coping with load shedding will be a huge challenge, especially in these tough economic times.

Handy load shedding tips:

  • Most businesses, including restaurants, remain open during load shedding thanks to gas and generators, but it’s advisable to check beforehand. Don’t just assume that a business is not trading during load shedding; while it may look dark inside, chances are they are still open for business.
  • Put the proposed load shedding times somewhere handy so that your family will have enough time to prepare for the power outage.
  • Install a solar geyser, get solar lamps to put outside in the garden. Get a few high-wattage solar-powered lights for your garden, and a few LED lights for inside. Light is a deterrent to would-be burglars.
  • Gas stoves are becoming a popular choice for people who are building a new home or re-doing their kitchen. There’s also the portable option: you can buy a camping gas stove. This way you can cook food or boil the kettle, even if there’s no electricity.
  • Use empty plastic cool drink bottles, fill them with water and place in your deep freeze. If the power is out for a long time, you can take them out and put them in your fridge to keep food cold until the power comes back on. It will also create extra freezing capacity in the deep freeze to keep your meats from thawing.
  • Use battery operated lights. You can get lanterns, torches and other battery-operated lights to keep around the house when the power goes off. It’s less dangerous than using just candles.
  • Get a head torch or cap. You can strap the head torch around your head or get a cap with a fitted light so that you can walk around the house easily, without trying to make your way in the dark.
  • Get a generator. Often this is the more expensive option, but depending on your needs and your budget, a generator may be a good idea. You can get ones that will keep the entire house powered, or smaller ones to jst keep the fridge running and perhaps just the TV on.
  • Smart plugs are an effective way to help ensure your valuable appliances are not damaged by sudden power surges. Smart plugs can be set to switch off your appliances such as TVs, fridges and microwaves. Smart plugs typically have a companion app allowing you to set preferences, schedules and names for the devices.
  • Invest in surge protection plugs. These red plugs are available at supermarkets and hardware stores.
  • If you need to manually open and close your gates when you get home, try to have someone come and meet you at your entrance or arrange for an escort from your security company.  
  • Alarm systems, garage doors and electric gates generally rely on electricity so make sure that these items all have good back-up batteries.
  • Keep your cellphone charged, or invest in a portable phone charger, so that you can still call for help if you need to.
  • Download these two apps: EskomsePush allows you to receive updates on planned load shedding and schedules. The Namola emergency app can connect you with help – and share your location – in an instant.

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