Hayden Horner
3 minute read
14 Mar 2020
6:45 am

How to avoid the load shedding blues

Hayden Horner

Eskom's load shedding doesn't mean you have to live like it's the Dark Ages.

File image.

South Africans love a good laugh. From Helen Zille’s return to politics to former president Jacob Zuma’s sick note, the global coronavirus pandemic and the Eskom power cuts – there’s just no flipping the off-switch on our ability to laugh through serious stuff.

However, there’s nothing funny about coming home to the rancid stench of most of your month’s groceries having gone bad after six or more hours of load shedding.

As frustrating as these outages are, the power utility maintains load shedding is designed to prevent a complete national blackout, which could take one to three weeks to repair.

In essence, it’s a short-term inconvenience to help prevent a long-term national disaster and we are all playing our part by adapting – another awesome quality that South Africans have in common.

So, with Eskom currently implementing its stage 4 phase, Saturday Citizen thought it fitting to share our load shedding survival kit:

Preparation is key

Hang the proposed load shedding times on your fridge so power outages don’t take you by surprise. Some good apps are:

  • Loadshed
  • Gridwatch
  • Loadshedder Alert
  • EskomSePush

Refrigerated and frozen foods

Dr Lucia Anelich, food safety expert, says refrigerated food should be safe as long as the outage is for no more than four hours and the fridge door is kept closed.

  • Ensure your refrigerator is running at 4°C or as close to that as possible.
  • Freeze items you don’t immediately need like milk, leftovers, fresh meat, poultry and fish.
  • Buy smaller quantities of fresh food, rather than bulk.
  • Consider buying long-life products, such as sterile or UHT beverages and canned goods.
  • Keep frozen ice packs to pack around perishable foods during load shedding.

Keep Wi-Fi running

If your home is hit by load shedding and you have a fixed-line broadband connection, you can prevent downtime with a UPS or battery back-up powering your router and CPE.

Most network providers have their own power back-up solutions to keep their broadband products online during load shedding.

That said, you should make sure your computer, laptop, phone or iPad is fully charged so you can browse the internet or stream your favourite shows.

No Wi-Fi, no problem

Simply stock up on candles, torches, books and board games to help yourself and those restless little ones endure the time in the dark. It’s also a good time for storytelling by candlelight.

Avoid power surges

Prevent your electrical appliances getting damaged when the power comes back on by unplugging all appliances during load shedding. It’s advisable to do this even if no load shedding is scheduled, in case the Eskom announces one and you can’t get home in time.

Don’t get locked out

For electric gates, always carry a spare manual override key.

Cash is king

Power outages also mean stores can’t use their card machines. So, if you haven’t prepared snacks ahead of time and need to dash out to your nearest convenience store, it’s best to keep some cash on hand.

Follow these and other tips accessible online and you won’t feel like you’re living in the Dark Ages when the next Eskom power outage hits.


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